French Conquest, The Expulsion of the French
Battle of Dien Bien Phu, Nguyen dynasty, guerrilla movement, Vietnamese people, Chinese border
The Franco-Viet Minh conflict (now often called the First Indochina War) lasted nearly eight years. The Viet Minh set up their headquarters in the mountainous area between the Red River valley and the Chinese border and built up their forces for a major counter-offensive. After failing to capture Ho Chi Minh and destroy the guerrilla movement, the French formed a rival Vietnamese government under Bao Dai, the last emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. In August 1945 Bao Dai had abdicated the throne in favor of Ho Chi Minh’s republic, which was formally declared in September. Viet Minh forces lacked the strength to defeat the French, but the movement had earned sufficient popularity among the Vietnamese people to prevent French victory. In 1950 the United States—increasingly concerned about Communist advances in Asia—recognized Bao Dai’s government and began to provide military and economic aid to the French. In turn, the Viet Minh (still dominated by Ho Chi Minh’s ICP) sought assistance from the new Communist government in China.
The war was a virtual stalemate for three years. In France, however, the public grew weary of the war in Indochina. In March 1954 Viet Minh forces attacked Dien Bien Phu, the French military outpost in the isolated town of Dien Bien. The dispirited government in France agreed to hold negotiations on a peace agreement at Geneva, Switzerland. The French outpost fell to a Viet Minh assault on May 7, the night before negotiations began at Geneva (Battle of Dien Bien Phu).
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