Western Exploration and Exploitation of Indo China (Vietnam) – 1


Vietnam is the odd man out amongst the states of mainland South-East Asia, unlike its neighbours to the war, Vietnam followed the China’s cultural influence.  Vietnam was also remarkable in being the only country in South-East Asia (apart from the Philippines) to have acquired a sizeable Christian community amounts her population.  Conquest, rebellion and civil war have cratered the course of Vietnamese history, in which he dominant themes have been the struggle for emancipation from china, the push southwards and the subsequent conflict between its northern and southern poles.  Confucian conservatism and the problem of the Christian converts were the two principal items which led Vietnam into its disastrous confrontation with France in the nineteenth century.


Before the French came to Indochina, Vietnam, the Khmer empire (Cambodia), and the Laotian kingdom (Laos) were independent countries Vietnam had been ruled by neighbouring china for hundreds of years, but after centuries of resistance the Vietnamese people overthrew their Chinese rulers and became independent.  The tradition of armed struggle against foreign occupation had a long and noble history in Indochina as the French as well as U.S later learned to their regret.

In the three centuries preceding the French arrival, the Vietnamese were ruled by a series of emperors whose nominal rule included collecting revenue.  But, the taxes were modest and the emperor had relatively little real power over the Vietnamese. “The edicts of the emperor,” according to an old Vietnamese saying, “stop at the edge of the village”. The men who ruled hundreds of small villages and hamlets in which the vast majority lived were chosen locally based on their education, wisdom and family’s status.  The lives of the people in these villages were seldom affected by outside events. They knew little of what was happening beyond the circle of the huts in which they lived, and fields on which they tilled their crops.