Historical Dictionary



Following negotiations with the Republic of China, in August 1948 the French agreed to rename the congrégations (bangs) they had used since the late 19th century to regroup and administer the five different Chinese groups living in Indochina under a new name: Administrative Chinese Regional Groupings (Groupe-ments administratifs chinois régionaux). The French allowed Chinese consulates in Indochina to have a say in the election of local Chinese headmen to lead the five different groupings – Guangzhou (Canton), Fujian, Chaozhou, Hainan and the Hakka. As for the Associated States of Indochina, their national control over the Chinese populations living within their emerging national states remained limited. In 1951, the Associated State of Vietnam gained some increased control over the nomination of the Chinese headmen directing the regional groupings. However, real power remained in French colonial hands when it came to deciding prickly questions concerning Chinese immigration, expulsions, and legal jurisdiction. The divisive question of the “naturalization” or “Vietnamisation” of the overseas Chinese and the end of their separate legal status was put on hold until the French were forced to let go of Indochina in mid-1954. When Ngo Dinh Diem took charge of the Republic of Vietnam in 1955, he put an end to the congregations and required the oveseas Chinese to either become Vietnamese nationals or choose between one of the two Chinas, the Peoples Republic of China on the mainland or the Republic of China now based in Taiwan. The majority chose to become Vietnamese. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam, however, did not obligate Chinese to become Vietnamese, at least not at the outset. Internationalism, not nationalism, theoretically guided their notion of nationality, at least until relations soured between the two in the 1970s. See also MINORITY ETHNIC GROUPS; OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE IN FRANCE; OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE IN THAILAND.