THE DIFFICULT PATH TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE: POLITICAL SITUATION IN VIETNAM IN THE YEARS 1945–1946
The World War II and the new political situation at its end offered to Vietnam real chances for independence. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and some of his advisers, supported Vietnamese aspirations, being deeply convinced that Indochina should no longer belong to France. Although these ideas were never included into the official documents, and his successor, president Harry Truman, did not promote them, they undoubtedly facilitated negotiations between France and Viet Minh leaded by Ho Chi Minh, and changed entire French policy towards Indochina. Such American statements strengthened Ho Chi Minh’s position in his struggle for independence.
The Vietnamese leaders adopted a strategy of fait accompli: they initiated to build an independent state. On September 2nd, 1945 the Proclamation of the Independence was announced. It was followed by the decree on the parliamentary elections (September 8th, 1945), the elections themselves (January 6th, 1946), the establishment of the government (March 2nd, 1946), and the adoption of the Constitution (November 8th, 1946). They served as the proofs of the strength and stability of the new authorities.
Under such conditions they initiated a diplomatic struggle for an international recognition, first of all by France. Ho Chi Minh himself sent numerous notes and letters to the governments of the USA, the USSR and Great Britain with requests for their support. However, immediately after the war the great powers, for various reasons, did not intend to initiate confrontation with France nor promote the anticolonial movements. The USSR and the USA adopted a policy of “neutrality” in this respect. Even China was interested first of all in strengthening of her own international position and in gaining some economic privileges from France. When the Guomindang forces (under General Lu Han) occupied Vietnam (in 1945–1946) they were perceived by the Vietnamese leaders rather as a threat to independence than an ally.
On February 28th, 1946, an agreement was signed by two sides: France and Ho Chi Minh. It faced, however, highly critical reactions on the Vietnamese side, since it opened to France the way of return to Indochina. Ho Chi Minh himself also signed the agreement, and on this basis the French forces entered Haiphong on the March 6th, 1946, and Hanoi on March 9th. Further talks between Ho Chi Minh and the French authorities failed to produce a political agreement. Eventually on March 10th, 1946, the occupation of Indochina by all allied forces (introduced there to disarm the Japanese troops) ended, and the French army started to control all the major cities. Since this period Ho Chi Minh became the symbol of freedom and independence of Vietnam.