Class 10 History

Nationaism in Indo China: Religion and Anti-colonialism in Vietnam

The religious beliefs in Vietnam were a mixture of Buddhism, Confucianism and local practices. Christianity was introduced by French missionaries. They were intolerant of easygoing attitude of the Vietnamese. From the eighteenth century, many religious movements turned hostile to the Western presence. Scholars Revolt of 1969 was one of the early movements against the spread of Christianity.

Huynh Phu So

Hoa Hao was another such movements. It began in 1939 and gained great popularity in the fertile Mekong delta area. It drew on religious ideas popular in anti-French uprisings of the nineteenth century. The founder of Hoa Hao was a man called Huynh Phu So. He performed miracles and helped the poor. His criticism against useless expenditure had a wide appeal. He also opposed the sale of child brides, gambling and the use of alcohol and opium.

The French tried to suppress the movement inspired by Huynh Phu So. They declared him mad, called him the Mad Bonze, and put him in a mental asylum. But the doctor, who had to prove him mad, became his follower. Finally, he was exiled to Laos and many of his followers were sent to concentration camps.

Phan Boi Chau (1867-1940)

He was a nationalist who was educated in the Confucian tradition. He formed the Revolutionary Society (Duy Tan Hoi) in 1903; with Prince Cuong De as the head. Phan Boi Chau met the Chinese reformer Liang Qichao (1873-1929) in Yokohama in 1905. ‘The History of the Loss of Vietnam’ was the most influential book written by Phan. It was written under the strong influence and advice of Qichao. The book focuses mainly on two issues, viz. the loss of sovereignty and severing of ties with China. Phan became one of the leading figures of the anti-colonial movement in Vietnam.

Phan Chu Trinh (1871-1926)

He strongly differed with Phan Boi Chau. He was hostile to the monarchy and opposed the idea of resisting French with the help of court. He was highly influenced by the democratic ideals of the west. He accepted the French ideals of liberty. He wanted the French to set up legal and educational institutions, and develop agriculture and industries.

Influence of Japan and China

In the first decade of the twentieth century, many Vietnamese students went to Japan for getting modern education. The primary motive for going to Japan was to drive out the French from Vietnam, overthrow the puppet emperor and re-establish the Nguyen dynasty. They appealed to the Japanese as fellow Asians.

Japan had become a modern country and had successfully resisted the colonization by the west. Its victory over Russia in 1907 proved its military capabilities. After 1908, the Japanese Ministry of Interior clamped down on revolutionary activities of Vietnamese students. Many revolutionaries were deported and forced to seek exile in China and Thailand. Phan Boi Chau was also among them.

Developments in China also inspired Vietnamese nationalists. In 1911, a popular movement under Sun Yat Sen had overthrown the long established monarchy and a Republic was set up. The Vietnamese students were inspired by this development. They formed the Association for the Restoration of Vietnam (Viet-Nam Quan Phuc Hoi). The objective of the anti-French independence movement was now to set up a democratic republic.