Class 10 History

Nationalism in Indo China: Early History and French Domination

Early History

Indo-China comprises the modern countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Its early history shows many different groups of people living in this area under the shadow of the powerful empire of China.

Even when an independent country was established in what is now northern and central Vietnam, its rulers continued to maintain the Chinese system of government as well as Chinese culture.

Vietnam was also linked to the maritime silk route that brought in goods, people and ideas. Other networks of trade connected it to the hinterlands where non-Vietnamese people such as the Khmer Cambodians lived.

The French Domination

Colonial Domination: French troops landed in Vietnam in 1858 and by the mid-1880s they had established a firm grip over the northern region. After the Franco-Chinese war the French assumed control of Tonkin and Anaam and, in 1887, French Indo-China was formed.

Need of Colony for French

For many European powers, colonies were considered essential to supply natural resources and other essential goods. Moreover, the colonizers thought it was the mission of the ‘advanced’ European nations to civilize the backward people.

For increasing cultivation, the French began to build canals to irrigate the land in the Mekong delta. This helped in increasing rice production. The area under rice cultivation went up from 274,000 hectares in 1873 to 1.1 million hectares in 1900 and 2.2 million in 1930. Vietnam exported two-thirds of its rice production and by 1931 had become the third largest exporter of rice in the world.

After that, the French began to work on infrastructure projects. This was necessary for transportation of goods for trade and also for moving military garrisons in the entire region. Construction of a trans-Indo-China rail network began in this period and the final link with Yunnan in China was completed by 1910. The second line was built to link Vietnam to Siam (early name of Thailand).

Should Colonies be Developed

Paul Bernard was an eminent French thinker. He believed in developing infrastructure in Vietnam so that people could become more prosperous. A prosperous public would mean a better market for the French business. He also advocated for land reforms so that farm output could be improved.

The colonial economy in Vietnam was mainly based on rice cultivation and rubber plantation. Rail and port facilities were set up to service this sector. Little effort was made by the French to industrialise the economy.