Created: 2/10/1950

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moro than three years, an Intensehas been In progress in Indochina, where Indigenous nationalistic forces under the leadership of the Moscow-trainedBo Chi Minh, have opposed the reof French authority. Within Vietnam, by far the most Important of the three Indo-Chineserecarious military balance exists between the French and theirfollowers on tbe one band and Ho's forces on the other. Thus far, Frenchtoward both political and militaryhas been substantially less than Isto eliminate the threat to French tenure posed by the Resistance.

Thc French position and Bao Dai'shave rcccnUy been further weakened: politically by Chinese Communist and Soviet recognition of Ho Chi Minh, and militarily by the ability of thc Chinese Communist forces to make military supplies available to Bo's forces. Unless the French and Bao Daisubstantial outside assistance, thispolitical and military pressure maya French withdrawal from all or most of Indochina which, previous to the Chinese Communist and Sovietof Ho, had been estimated as probablywithin two years. Moreover, In tbe unlikely event that the Chinese Communist government commits major military units against the French In Indochina, the French might have lo withdraw earlier and faster.

The fighting In Indochina constitutes adrain on French military resources

which Is weakening Franceartner In tbe Western alliance. If France ls driven from Indochina, the resulting emergence of anCommunist regime In Vietnam, In combination with pressures which will beby the new government of China and the Soviet Union, can be expected to causeThailand and Burma to yield to this Communist advance. Under these conditions Malaya and Indonesia would also become highly vulnerable

The French are trying to halt the present unfavorable trend by according certainof sovereignty to Emperor Bao Dal and by an accelerated military campaign designed to deny productive areas to tbe Resistance and to reinforce the most vulnerable segment of the Sir. '. .border adjacent to thc coast The French political aim ls to attract non-Communist nationalists from thcof Ho Chi Minh to that of Bao Dai.

Meanwhile, Soviet and Chinese Communist recognition of Ho's regime haa made It dear lhat the Kremlin ls now prepared to exert greater pressure to achieve Its objective ofa Communist regime In Indochina. France alone is Incapable of preventingevelopment and can turn only to tbe US for assistance ln thwarting this Communist strategy. Having already publicly proclaimed support of Bao Dal, the US Is now faced with the choice of bolstering bis weak andposition or of abandoning him andthe far-reaching consequences ofcontrol of Indochina.

Note: The intelligence organizations or the Departments or State. Army. Navy, and the Air Force have concurred In this report. It contains tuformaUort available to CIA as or



more than three years, an Intensehas been In progress In Indochina In which nationalistic Vietnamese forces under the leadership of the Moscow-trainedHo Chi Minh, have opposed the reof French authority. At present, the Vietnamese Resistance controls majorof the three regions which constitute Vietnam, while the French,evere cost In manpower and military resources, hold the major citiesumber of militaryand control the states of Cambodia and Laos.

Withinrecarious state ofexists between the French and their Vietnamese followers on the one hand and Ho's resistance forces on the other. In their attempts to swing this balance decisively In their favor, the French are depending onIn both the political and military field. The French hope to extend military control over the agricultural regions of the coast, thereby confining the resistance forces to the relatively Impoverished hinterland. In the political realm, the French hope thatietnamesewithin the French Union under theEmperor of Annam, Bancause thc resistance forces lo lose thc greater part of their nationalistic following.

Thus far, French progress toward bothand military objectives has beenless than ls necessary to eliminate the threat posed by the vigorous resistance forces. The military campaignrogressive drain on French military resources which Is weakening Franceartner In thc Western alliance. Continuing internalLs largely denying the benefits ofresources not only to France but to the deficit areas of the Far East as well. Theitself is easily Interpretable inpropaganda as an example ofsuppression of Far Eastern nationalistic aspirations. These factors alone are of suffi-

cient gravity to make the solutionatter of concern to the West.

* New factors now threaten to upset the precarious balance In Indochina entirely, thus making the solution of Indochina'satter of immediate serious concern. The French position and Bao Dai's prospects have recently been further weakened: pcilUcally by Chinese Comrnunist and Soviet recognition of Ho Chi Mlnh, and militarily by the ability of the Chinese Communist forces to makesupplies available to Ho's forces. Theof Chinese Communist military assistance to Ho's resistance forces will probably be felt within six months. Unless the French and Bao Dai receive substantial outside assistance, this combined political and military pressure mayrench withdrawal from all or most of Indochina which, previous to the Chinese Communist and Soviet recognition of Ho, had been estimated as probably occurring within two years, Moreover, In the unlikely event that the Chinese Communistcommits major military units against the French in Indochina, thc French might have to withdraw earlier and faster.

The emergence of an indigenousregime In Indochinaesult of these developments. In combination with the pressures which will be exerted by the Communist regime In China, can be expected to cause adjacent Thailand and Burma to yield to this Communist advance. Under these conditions Malaya and Indonesia would also become highly vulnerable.

Dining the time remaining before theof Chinese Communist aid to theforces in Indochina is felt, tlie French will probably attempt to halt the presenttrend by developing andtheir present political and militaryThe French Intend to complete already initiated political plans designed to accord the Bao Dal regime certain aspects of


sovereignty and will be under constantto negotiate the progressiveof certain other controls. The present period of uneasy balance Is probably too short, however, to permit an effective politicalto such gradual actions unless the grants of power to the Bao Dal regime are considerably broader, than Is now anticipated.

The French plan toajorin North Vietnam designed to secure Arm control of the Red River delta area and the most vulnerable segment of the Slno-Vletnamcse border adjacent to the coast. Nevertheless, although French military circles continue to be optimistic regarding the speedy conclusion of this campaign, the additional burden on military resources In NorthImposed by the presence of Chinesetroops along the frontier will probably be aggravated by virtue of the fact that the French controlmall fraction of the Slno-Vletnamcsc border and therefore cannot prevent extensive contact between theCommunists and the Vietnamese

A variety of other expedients for theof the present unfavorable trend lnare believed to have been examined and rejected by tlic French. The concept of direct French negotiation with the Communist leaders of the Vietnamese Resistance, while given some support by the left wing In France, apparently has been rejected as mvolving risks too grave to allow serious consideration. The concepts of conciliation, mediation, orof the Vietnamese problem by the UN or some specially appointed international body, appears to be equally unacceptable to the French, largely because of considerations ot prestige. In any event, such International

mediation probably would be precludedonsideration of tbe limited time available for action. The concept of an Immediate grant of full power to tbe Bao Dal regime which, by Its fulfillment of Vietnamese nationalisticmight offer some prospect for the successuture French 'partnership" In Indochina, appears to be unacceptable In view of tbe very strong probability that Bao Dai's regime of Itself would be unable to prevent the eventual ascendancy of the present resistance movement and thus thero-Communist regime.

In view of the un acceptability to tbe French of such alternative expedients, they most probably will continue generally along thelr prescnt course of action, while at the same time actively soliciting political, economic, and military support from the other nations of the West. It win soon be necessary for the French to concede to the Bao Dai regime at least the fullest measure of autonomy possible within the restricting structure of the French Union. Simultaneously, Bao Dal would have to receive substantial political, economic, and military assistance.

Meanwhile, Soviet and Chinese Communist recognition of Ho's regime has mode It clear that the Kremlin is now prepared to exert greater pressure to achieve its objective ofa Communist regime In Indochina. France alone Is incapable of preventingevelopment and can turn only to the US for assistance in thwarting this Communist strategy. Having already publicly proclaimed support of Bao Dai, the US Is now faced with the choice of bolstering his weak andposition or of abandoning him andthe far-reaching consequences ofcontrol of Indochina.




major underlying motives andof tne French In refusing the demands (from both the Resistance and Bao Dal) tofull sovereignty are, ln orderesire to perpetuateish to protect localesire to assist ln containingln Asia;elief that the Vietnamese are not yet ready to governFrance, however, will probably soon ratify the limited concessions contained Inarch Agreements.

Tbe French have attempted to suppress Vietnamese nationalist Resistance through two courses of action. The first of these,military conquest, has not yet achieved any notable success. Although most all ofegular0avy,ir) under French command in Indochina are committed to thecampaign,elatively small area of Vietnam Is undor French control. Thismajor cities, strategic positions in the delta areas of the Red and Mekong rivers, and posts along the China frontier.

Whilemall measure ofsuccess Ln the Hanoi area in recent months, the French position has become worse in the combat areas of North Vietnam, and it appears that some outlying posts may beortion of thc reinforcements intended for defense of the Sino-Vietnamesc border regions, moreover, may have to beto Central Vietnam In order to make present lines tenable. In the south, the French have met with some success in recent operations southwest of Saigon, buteavy cost to the long-run economic well-being of the area.

The second of the two French lines ofon the resistance movement, politicalhas accomplished little. Thc Bao Dai experiment, now officially over ten months old

and actually more than two years In thehas thus far failed in Its expected object of luring significant non-Communist groups away from Ho Chi Mirth's camp. FrenchIn Implementing the agreements reached last Marchransfer of even partialof sovereignty to Bao Dai's regime has undermined the ex-Emperor's prestige.The suspicion within Vietnamese ranks that the French have no Intention of granting genuine Independence ls presently being paralleled ln the cool reception which other Asiatic powers are giving Bao Dai's attempts to achieve de facto recognition as chiefsovereign" stale within thc French Union. Locally,Bao Dal personally has recently laid stress on cooperation between France and Vietnam, Uie native press and even thepro-Bao Dal radio have becomeshrill, ultranationalistlc, and impatient in tone.

In summary. If present trends continue. It can be concluded: (I) with the military forces now available, the reserves which can beand with foreseeable outsideFrance can do no more thanemporary stalemate with thet Is unlikely that Bao Dai will be able to win the political support of any appreciable fraction of the resistance

Up to the present, the Vietnamesemovement has countered Frenchmoves primarily through the techniques of guerrilla warfare. In the past months, however, lhc resistance spokesmen claim that the pouit is being approached where offensive action can be taken against the French, awhich has been increasedesult of the extension of Chinese Communistto the borders of Tonkin and the coast and Islands of South China Meanwhile, the Resistance has continued Its harassing at-

tacks upon French lines of ccmmunlceUon and upon North Vietnam outposts, withfair success. Even In relatively quiet areas of Central Vietnam, terrorism continues and causes convoy losses, while the sabotage of small rubber plantations continues In the couth.

The Resistance has been largely successfulpparent facade of genuine nationalism; whether willingly or not, four-fifths of the population of Vietnam professto Ho Chi Mlnh. CommunistId China have been hailed by Resistance spokesmen and the Soviet press and radio have continued to champion Ho. -, -

A number of developments during the past six months suggest that the Resistance,tiffening attitude, ls now determined tofor nothing less than total andindependence. This position, involving explicit repudiation of the French Union, has been plainly stated by the Resistance radio, The delegation which the Ho Government had maintained in Paris for more than three years was withdrawnugust. Tbe left wing was strengthened at the top level of thehierarchy, through the elevation of


Communist Pham Van Dong to the positions of Vice-President (previously unfilled) and Chairman of the Supreme Council of NaUonal Defense (previously filled byo'sof Foreign Affairs, moreover, has given notice that support of Bao Dal by foreignwill be regarded as an "unfriendly gesture toward Uie people of Vietnam and the government which represents them" and has declared Itself willing to enter Into relations, based upon equality and mutual respect, with any country. The government of theRepublic of Vietnam" has formallythe People's Republic of China and its request for recognition was accepted onanuary by the Chinese Communists. Onanuary Ho's government was recognized by Uie Soviet Union.

In summary. If present trends continue, It can be concluded that: (a) Vietnamese mill-tary capabilities will remain undiminished in Uie Immediate future and may be expected to Increase greaUy, and (b) Uie great mass of active and inactive supporters of Ho Chi Mlnh will continue to be effectively persuaded through propaganda and coercion IntoUie Resistance.




area generally known asolitical entity constituted by the artificial fusion of economically and culturally unrelated areasesult of the Frenchofh century. The two western kingdoms of Cambodia and Laos havean Indie culture while the three east coastf Vietnam,onkin, Ann am, and Cochlnchlna, have been stronglyand unified for centuries by Chinese culture. When the French assumed control of the whole region In the latter half ofh century, they established five arbitrary adinjnlstratlve units under the control of thc Governor General of the Indochlnese Union. Cochlnchlna, the wealthiest of the Vietnameseas governedolony while the other four zones were protectorates, with French control paramount throughout tbe area. These arrangements, while docilelyby the racially distinct Cambodians and Laotians, ran counter to the nationalof thc Vietnamese Inhabitants of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochlnchlna.opposition to French rule, alternately latent and active during the past eighty years, lies at the base of the present conflict.

Inhe Japanese, who had been the self-invited "guests" of thc Frencheized complete control from the Vichy French government ofcrushed or drove from the country the remnants of the French Army, andovernment for Vietnam under theof Emperor Bao Dal of the Japanese to win the sympathy of Vietnamese nationalists, however, showed only meager results, and the wartime Bao Dai

"Ky"ietnamese term referring to each Of Uie three regions of Vietnamttchinchlna) and to these regions only.

government fell with its sponsor In

The Viet Mlnhlandestinewhich had for some time followed an antl-VIchy, anti-Japanese program under the direction of the veteran Communist-trained revolutionist, Ho Chi Mlnh, quickly moved into thc political vacuum brought on by the collapse of Japan and. In mid-August,tlie Democratic Republic of Vietnam5 Vietnam declared Itsfrom France, Although at that time (and today) the new government was backed by and Included many non-Communist Vietnamese, It has unquestionably been led by Communists and Corcmunlst-trained

After Japan's capitulation, tbe Alliesoccupation duties In Indochina ath parallel and assigned the northern half to thc Chinese and the southern to the Allied Southeast Asia Command during the period of Japanese troop disarmament. The forcible seizure of power In Saigon by French troops In5 precipitated armed clashes between Anglo-French occupation forces and the Vietnamese In Cochin china British forces stayed only long enough to await the local re-establishment of French control and withdrew Inn the cummerhe Chinese also withdrew from the Korth, after the conclusion of the Sine-French Treaty of6 which offeredpolitical and economic concessions to the Chinese.

In6 the French concluded aconvention" with Ho Chi Mlnh.the Republic of Vietnamfree state" wltltin the French Union, enjoying Its own government, parliament, army, and finances. The question of Cochinchlna'swith Vietnam was to be deterTnined by referendum. The French, however, in ef-


denied Vietnam sovereignty over Cochin-china, and Instablished angovernment In the southern ay. Despite the continuation of sporadic fighting In Cochlncbina, nominal peace obtainedFrance and the Republic of Vietnam. During the summerelegates from tbe two countries met In Paris to confer In an atmosphere made heavy by tbe news of recent French military advances beyond the borders of Cochin chin a. The Franco-Vietnamese modus-uwcTuH, which was signed oneptember, did not attempt to resolve tbe thorny Cochin china question. Its principal object was to provideilitary cease-fire and stand-fast acreement, to elaborate on the structure of the proposed Indochlneseand to define French rights andln Vietnam. The status of Cochlncbina remained dependent upon the referendum provided for In6 agreement. However, procrastination ln holding tbeand continuing French police action, involving suppression ot pro-Ho Chi Minh sentiment In tones under French control,the Vietnamese. It became obvious that the Frenchrench-dominated Indochlnese Federation composed ofochin china. Cambodia, and Laos, all four with separate governments. The French wished to "divide andut therefused to cooperate. When the French forcibly seized control of thc Haiphonginocal clashes look place. Full-scale guerrilla warfare, beginning In Hanoi onecameand has continued to date.

In the past three years, the French,heavily on their available rnilitaryin France and Africa, have built up armed forces numbering. They have driven tbe Ho Chi Minh Government Into northern Tonkin, occupied the major cities ot the "threeuieted unrest In Cambodia and Laos, and recently recognized these stales' rights to "independence within the Frenchespite their major military commitment, however, the French have been under such constant and destruc-

Tonkin and Annam only, according to the French view.

live attack on their lines of communication that their position ln Tonkin Is stillThe rural areas of Tonkin, Annam, and even Cochlncbina remain almost completely under the control of Vietnamese guerrillas.

Together with thetr military efforts, the French have attempted toolitical solution of the problems of Indochina, Earlyhey proclaimed Cochinfree state" within the Indochlnese Federation and the French Union, and subsequently they"administrative committees" Inurban areas of Tonkin and Annam.French representatives began aof conversations with Bao Dal (former Emperor of Annam) who, after working first with thc Japanese and then with Ho Col Minh, bad abdicated and withdrawn to Hong Kong lnhe French wanted Bao Dal to return andovernment of the "threeao Dal was willing to listen to tbe French proposals but demanded that liberal concessions be made to any government with which he might become associated. The give and take between French representatives and Bao Dai's entourage culminatednrench cruiser ln Bale d'Along near Haiphong, when French High Commissioner Bollaert, General Nguyen-van-Xuan, until then President of tbe autonomous Cochlnchlna Republic, and Bao Dal signed an agreement France recognized theof Vietnam within the French Union, while Vietnam fin the person of Bao Dai)itself to respect the rights andof French nationals, to "assumerespect" for democratic principles, and to give priority to French advisers for the needs of the Vietnamese domesticand economy.

Irnmedlalely after the signing of the Bale d'Along Agreement, the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam was established, withts President. Detailed negotiations were to follow with French representatives during which arrangements would be made for cultural, diplomatic, military, economic, financial, and technical agreements. By all these political means the French hoped tothe non-Communist partisans of Ho Chi


government and to rally popularfor the Provisional Government.

During the next few months, the French National Assembly continuedostpone ratification of the Bale d'Along Agreement, and those few Vietnamese leaders who had at first been enthusiastic over French promises began to lose faith. The French militaryIn Tonkin, furthermore, deteriorated progressively. In an attempt to revitalize the Bao Dal experiment, the French Government once more entered conversations with the ex-Emperor In France during the falls the price of his return to Indochina, Bao Daltreaty" setting forth inthe specific powers which the French would transfer to his proposed government, Insisting that his mission would fall If hc could not offer hisubstantial degree ofBao Dal also demanded that the necessary legal steps be taken to pave the way for unification of Cochlnchlna withand Annam. These new conversations were Instituted by Leon Plgnon, whoBollaert as High Commissionernd were terminated9 by an exchange of letters betweenAurlol and Bao Dai. including anagreement, completing and defining the Joint declaration signed at Bale d'Along. In general, the accord provided for Internal political autonomy within Vietnam (with only limited Vietnamese diplomaticative-controlled courts (with extraterritorialfor French citizens and foreignfavored byative army advised by the French (with military bases available to the French Army and French right tobetween suchietnamese(linked to thc franc) and safeguards for French economic interests. French approval of the principle of the unification of Cochin-china with the other two Vietnamese "kys" was also included.

Onhe French Nationalapproved thc provision for the change in Cochbichina's status,freely elected" Territorial Assembly was soon organized in Cochlnchlna. This body voted for unification of the "three kys" onpril. One week later, Bao Dai returned to Indochina. The

French Assembly approved the unification of Cochlnchlna with Tonkin and Annam9 but postponed final approval ofarch Agreements. Onune, after an exchange of letters between Commissioner Plgnon and Bao Dal In Saigon, the lattertook over the direction of Vietnam with the provisional title of Emperor. By the late summerrench-Vietnamesefor the Implementation ofarch Agreements began Its attempts to reachconventions to the accord, but up tonly minor agreements had been reached. Onecember, however. It was announced that last-minutehad resulted In conventionsransfer of administrative authority In some thirty fields. Economic discussions await an Interstate (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and France) conference now scheduled for late January or early February. Secrecydetails of the9 conventions and thc fact that the most vital economic and military Issues have beenhas given rise to suspicion as to whether this "transfer of power" Is genuine. Tbeannounced cabinet under Premier Nguyen Phau Long (Bao Dal remains as Chief of State) does not indicate any acquisition of popular support by Bao Dal.

The approval of the basic agreements with three Indochinesc states by the Frenchwas accomplishedpproval of theccords as well as further negotiation in Indochina and approval by aVietnamese body must now follow. Meanwhile, efforts to obtain international recognition of Bao Dal have includedsponsorship of Vietnam's admission to tbe Economic Commission for Asia and the Far Eastnd the transmittal tocountries, the US, UK, and Vatican of letters announcing thc existence of the new state. Tlie US and the UK, now that the French Assembly has ratified the Indochinese Agreements, plan shortly to accordto Bao Dal. On thc other hand, Ho'swas recognized by the Chineseonanuary and by the USSR onanuary.


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