Britain’s involvement in Vietnam 1945

From 1943 onwards, long before the outcome of Britain’s war against Japan in Asia was certain, British colonial administrators pondered about what to do with French Indochina (occupied by Japan in 1941), once the Japanese were defeated. They knew comparatively little about the colony and believed it would be best to return it to the French at the end of the Unknownwar. This decision was not taken in order to help the French or as an act of charity towards them, it was designed to counter a deadly threat to the British Empire. The British were concerned that if Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) became independent through its own efforts, it would set a dangerous precedent for Britain’s colonies in Malaya, Singapore, Burma and India. It was for this reason that Britain chose to occupy South Vietnam or Cochin China, while the Chinese Nationalist Kuomintang Army occupied the north. The British misjudged the nationalist mood of the Vietminh fighters who had resisted the Japanese throughout the war and they enabled French colonists to seize power, ignoring the newly established Vietnamese Republic. The resultant bloodshed was just the start of three decades of war across Indochina that ended with the unification of Vietnam in 1975. For more on Britain in Vietnam listen to the podcast here

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