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TRẦN QUANG VINH (TRẦN ĐẠI BIÊN, TRƯƠNG VỊNH THANH, 1897–1975)

One of the prime movers of the Cao Dai religious movement, born in Long Xuyen province in southern Vietnam. He began working in the colonial offices of Phnom Penh as a secretary in Cambodian Arts. He joined the Cao Dai movement in 1930 and served as head of the movement’s mission in Cambodia until 1941. In September 1941, the French took him into custody but he walked free thanks to Japanese protection. At this time, he also joined the Vietnamese Restoration Society (Viet Nam Phuc Quoc Hoi) and, with the overthrow of the French in March 1945, helped create the first Cao Dai combat force with Japanese backing. Following the Japanese defeat, Viet Minh forces arrested him briefly. On 9 May 1946, French security forces then arrested him and succeeded in winning over his support in the war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the south. Tran Quang Vinh brought over his troops to the French side and recognized the legitimacy of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Cochinchina created by the French on 1 June 1946. The French named him commander-in-chief of the Cao Dai Armed Forces and helped him arm, train, and reorganize his troops. On 23 May 1948, he became under-secretary in the National Defense of the provisional government of South Vietnam. Between May 1950 and March 1951, Tran Quang Vinh served as minister of the Armed Forces in Tran Van Huu’s first government. In August 1951, he returned to the “Holy See” of the Cao Dai in Tay Ninh province. A rival, Trinh Minh The, held him prisoner until May 1954.