History of Southeast Asia

History of Southeast Asia

Episode 65: The First Indochina War, Part 2

April 16, 2019

In this episode we begin covering the events of the First Indochina War, waged between the French and the Vietnamese communists, then called the Viet Minh. Here we go from 1946 to 1950. For most of this time the struggle was a stalemate, with the French controlling all cities in Vietnam, while the Viet Minh roamed the countryside. Then in 1950 the Viet Minh won a key battle in the area northeast of Hanoi; this is now considered the turning point of the war.

Indochina in 1947.

Here is a map of the First Indochina War, not long after it started, in 1947. The French controlled the violet areas, while the Viet Minh controlled the areas colored reddish-orange. For nearly three years after this -- in 1948, 1949 and early 1950 -- the front lines between the two sides barely moved at all. For that reason, one of the names given for this conflict is "the Quicksand War."

Indochina in 1950.

Here is another map of the First Indochina War, showing the situation at the end of 1950. As with the 1947 map, the French control the violet areas, and the Communists (mostly Viet Minh) control the reddish-orange areas. The biggest change from last time is that the Viet Minh have captured northeast Vietnam, and are now putting the squeeze on the Red River delta.

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