Britain’s War in Vietnam

THE BRITISH VIETNAM WAR The modern nations of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos occupy the former imperial realm of Indochine. The French had first taken an interest in the bulbous peninsula that lies wrapped around the Siamese border east of India and southeast of China when the British had begun squeezing them out of India at the end of the eighteenth century. French Catholic missionaries were the vanguard of conquest and from the mid-nineteenth century Gallic colonisers chipped away at the local kingdoms under the pretext of protecting its missionary expeditions. Saigon, the main city of Cochin China (Southern Vietnam), was captured early in 1859 and, with British connivance, the French carved out an eastern empire. Following war with China in the 1880s French Indochina was formally established in October 1887 from Annam, Tonkin, Cochin China, which occupied the territory of modern Vietnam, and the Kingdom of Cambodia. Laos was added after a war with Siam. The building of ‘Indochine’ was a very nasty business. According to Governor-General Albert Sarraut, ‘Indochina is from all points of view, the most important, the most developed and the most prosperous of our colonies…’ Although the French maintained a façade of Annamite sovereignty by coercing […]
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