Vietnam entered the Twentieth Century under a billow of French smoke, choking its people of their rights, freedoms and sovereignty. This exploitative French regime greatly oppressed the Vietnamese, causing in them swelling emotions of anger and discontent and so united them in a common struggle for independence. Furthermore, under the inspiring and influential leadership of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese militarism was developed with the creation of the Viet Minh, which in turn, enabled Ho to inscribe in his people a sense of pride and nationalism; the binding belief that a people should be able to rule themselves and have this right recognised.
The French imperialist conquest of Vietnam began in 1802, when a Vietnamese Prince, Nguyen Anh, requested French help in regaining his throne. It was a fatal error as the French willingly agreed and gained a military presence in Vietnam, and just over 90 years later they had gained the whole of Indochina through imperialist expansion.
The French regime of oppression exploited the Vietnamese in three main ways: through military, social, and economic control.
The French used advanced militaristic technology to enforce their control and to suppress any small uprisings. The severity of the French militaristic oppression on the localised revolts pointed out the need for a united Vietnam against the French. Also enforced by militarism, was the maintenance of strict social control, whereby, under the moral reasoning of the 'civilising mission', French became the official language and other forms of French culture were also extended. Ultimately however, the primary interest of the French in Vietnam, was economic gain; to open up markets for French manufactured goods. The economic transformation of Vietnam meant that a labour conscription was introduced and many Vietnamese were forced off their land without compensation. Together these three types of control caused ruthless exploitation of...