In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we are making LIVE CLASSES and VIDEO CLASSES completely FREE to prevent interruption in studies
History > The Nationalist Movement in Indo China > Emerging from the Shadows of China
The Nationalist Movement in Indo China

Emerging from the Shadows of China

Did you know that like the British, the French to were colonisers? The French had an iron grip on the Indo-China region. They colonised Vietnam from 1858 to 1880. This helped Vietnam escape Chinese influence and eventually gain independence. Let us study their history.

Suggested Videos

What is Civilisation?
Introduction to Heritage
Historians and Dates


Vietnam Emerging from the Shadows of China


When we read history, we come across different terms that mix names of countries and regions. Some examples are ‘South- East Asia’, ‘South Asia’, ‘Tibeto- Burman’, etc. Similarly, ‘Indo- China’ was a collective term for Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia together. How do you think each of these countries carved out a separate identity for themselves?

We shall see how Vietnam was emerging from the shadows of China. This was mainly led by the French colonial rule. However, anti-colonial feelings helped strengthen nationalism in later phases.

As mentioned earlier, Vietnam was just a surrounding area of China, that followed the same governance system and cultures. It was also a part of the rich silk trade route that exchanged people, goods and ideas. This started to change after they became a colony of the French.

European Conquests

Vietnam emerging from the shadows of china

In medieval ages, Europeans embarked upon a quest to make colonies out of Asian countries. The reason they gave for this was the infamous ‘white man’s burden’ theory. It stated that Europeans were the most civilised and thus had a ‘duty’ to civilise the rest of the world.

But in reality, Europeans wanted a place where they could buy cheap raw material from and a market to sell goods. This system was extremely exploitative and created the division between the ‘developed’ and ‘underdeveloped’ countries.

Vietnam as a Colony

Vietnam emerging from the shadows of china

Like the British did in 1757 in India, the French too established their colony in Vietnam from 1858- 1880. After the Franco- China war, the French gained control of Tonkin and Anaam. Thereafter, they created a firm grip over the country, creating dissatisfaction among the masses, that led to the rise of nationalism.

At first, the French aimed at giving agriculture a boost. They made many canal networks and also reclaimed marshy lands for cultivation. The area of rice cultivation rose from 2,74,000 hectares to 2.2 million hectares in 1930. By 1931, Vietnam had become the third largest producer of rice in the world.  Two- thirds of this were exported and all the profits were reaped by the French.

Even infrastructure was added to help build the mass production in Vietnam. Railway networks were laid for the easy transportation of good and people. Railways linked the north and south of Vietnam to Yunan in China as well as Siam (Thailand).

Vietnamese people worked as bonded labour to build these infrastructures. They suffered wide human rights violation and were badly exploited for the sake of profits.

Why did the French try to develop Vietnam?

You may think, why did the French spend money and effort in a place where they had no interest? Building the economy of Vietnam would make the people richer and thus, they could buy more goods from the French. This would ultimately benefit the French. The huge population, lack of land resources, etc., as problems in developing Vietnam economically.

This article gives the backdrop to the rise of nationalism in Vietnam (Indo- China). We have seen how Vietnam was a country that was just emerging from the shadows of China. It then became a colony for the French and that set the stage for the rise of nationalism. All the exploitative policies of the French thus united the Vietnamese with a spirit of nationalism.

Solved Question for You

Q: What is the ‘white man’s burden’?

Answer: It was a theory that was used to justify colonialism by the Europeans. It stated that Europeans were the most civilised and thus had a ‘duty’ to civilise the rest of the world. They would do this by colonising the other ‘barbaric’ countries of Asia, America and Africa.

Share with friends

Customize your course in 30 seconds

Which class are you in?
Get ready for all-new Live Classes!
Now learn Live with India's best teachers. Join courses with the best schedule and enjoy fun and interactive classes.
Ashhar Firdausi
IIT Roorkee
Dr. Nazma Shaik
Gaurav Tiwari
Get Started


The Nationalist Movement in Indo China
  • Emerging from the Shadows of China

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Deep Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

But how did Vietnam emerge from the shadows of China?


The Nationalist Movement in Indo China
  • Emerging from the Shadows of China

Stuck with a

Question Mark?

Have a doubt at 3 am? Our experts are available 24x7. Connect with a tutor instantly and get your concepts cleared in less than 3 steps.

Get Question Papers of Last 10 Years

Which class are you in?
No thanks.