Historical and practical value of the 1946 Preliminary Agreement between Vietnam and France


President Ho Chi Minh signing the Preliminary Agreement with French Representative Sainteny on March 6th, 1946 (file photo)
The success of the August Revolution led to the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; however, that State had not been worldwide recognized yet. Meanwhile, the Potsdam Conference decided to deploy allied troops to Indochina to disarm Japanese troops. Accordingly, the North (from the 16th parallel upward) was handed to Jiang Jieshi troops and the South (from 16th parallel southwards) to British troops.
On September 23rd 1945, with the support of British troops, French colonialist opened fire in Saigon, then invading the South Vietnam, the Southern Central region, and a large part of Cambodia. At the same time, they controlled a large rural area of Laos, gradually bringing into play their wicked intention of invading the Indochina for the second time. To avoid conflict with Chinese troops, the French signed the Chongqing Agreement with the Government of the Republic of China (February 28th 1946).
Accordingly, the French succeeded in replacing Jiang Jieshi troops peacefully regardless of Indochina people’s interests. However, while occupying the North Vietnam, the French faced up to the Ho Chi Minh Government backed by the masses. Thus, it was forced to negotiate with the revolutionary government.
At that time, if engaging the French, Ho Chi Minh’s government would also have had to deal with 20,000 Jiang Jieshi troops and their lackeys in the North while its position and strength were benign. Recognizing that both these adversaries would cooperate with his government for an acceptable solution, President Ho Chi Minh, with his sharpness in political view and adaptability to the situation, timely signed the Preliminary Agreement of March 6th. Its terms were the most beneficial to Vietnam. According to the Agreement, France had to recognize Vietnam as an independent country having its own government, its own parliament, its own army and its own finances, forming part of the Indochinese Federation and of the French Union, pledging to recognize the result of a referendum on reunifying the three Annamite regions (Cochinchina, Annam, Tonkin). In return, Vietnam agreed to let 15,000 French troops present in the North (to relieve Jiang Jieshi troops), but these troop had to totally withdraw in 5 years. That was a sound and creative decision of our Party and President Ho Chi Minh. The Preliminary Agreement left us valuable historical and practical lessons.
Historically, the Preliminary Agreement was the first international legal document signed between the Government of Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the French Government. The Agreement thus proved that Vietnam was an independent, equal nation to France, no longer its colony or under its protectorate.
After being put aside of the Chongqing Agreement, now the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam became a decisive party in implementing its  troops replacement’s term, legally ending the role of Jiang Jieshi troops in Vietnam. That was a solution that killed two birds with one stone, helping Vietnam both avoid facing French troops and expel 20,000 Jiang Jieshi troops out of its territory.
Taking advantage of that opportunity, we established a governmental system from the central to locals nationwide, shaping an independent economy and a financial system, especially building a national Army up to 80,000 active troops plus 1 million guerrillas in mid-1946 to fully prepare for the enduring resistance war against French invaders.
It could be said that the Preliminary Agreement was a necessary step toward, in which we sacrificed space for time, made time be material forces to comprehensively reinforce our strength for coping with the French colonialist when they had no more direct support from the Allied forces.
Practically, the Preliminary Agreement demonstrated our Party’s clear-sighted guideline of being unchanged in strategic principles but flexible in policy, which has been effectively applied into the cause of Homeland construction and protection by the Party.  Notably, at this moment, under the guideline of “proactive and active international integration”, our Party clarifies the strategic principle of firmly maintaining national independence and socialism. In a world of changes, the Party has proactively made adjustments in its strategic policy to meet objectives and requirements of integration; thoroughly grasping the two sides of the coin ‘cooperation and struggle’ in international relations, seizing opportunities, strengthening cooperation and flexibly struggling to defend national interests and avoid confrontation and isolation; firmly protecting national independence, maintaining self-reliance, diversifying and multilateralizing external relations. It has also focused on regional cooperation, extending relations with all countries, particularly the neighbours, major powers and regional countries; proactively participating in multilateral organizations, making contributions to improving the status of Vietnam in the international arena. That is a practical application of lessons learned from the Preliminary Agreement 70 years ago
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All comments [ 10 ]

Gentle Moon 6/5/16 09:20

Human beings have experienced so many wars that one can say that war is an inevitable part of human history. But there is another fact that people always aspire to peace.

Jane smartnic 6/5/16 09:21

For countries like Vietnam, which has had to fight foreign invaders for freedom and independence since the early days of its foundation, peace has been more valuable and indeed become the nation’s principle and people’s philosophy of life.

Love Peace 6/5/16 09:22

In the 1945-46 period, when relations between Vietnam and France were very strained, President Ho decided to sign the Preliminary Agreement on March 6th, 1946 and the Temporary Treaty on September 14th, 1946.

Pack Cassiopian 6/5/16 09:23

Head of the French negotiating delegation Jean Sainteny admitted that Ho Chi Minh was smart while making fewer requests and claims, in order to reach the final target – national freedom and independence.

John Smith 6/5/16 09:24

Although the Vietnamese Army and people completely defeated the French Army in the Dien Bien Phu Campaign in May 1954, the Vietnamese Government under the leadership of President Ho Chi Minh, once again, gave the French side some compromises to sign the Geneva Accords to restore peace and end the war with the French.

LawrenceSamuels 6/5/16 09:27

Unlike others from the newly-born Vietnamese government, Ho Chi Minh well understood that a complete independence for the nation could not be immediately achieved so he temporarily accepted a limited independence for the nation, he recalled.

yobro yobro 6/5/16 09:29

From December 1946 to March 1947, in spite of the breakout of the war between the Vietnamese people and French colonists, Ho Chi Minh still sent 8 letters to the French Government, Parliament and President to ask them to restore peace in Vietnam.

MaskOf Zero 6/5/16 09:31

Ho Chi Minh’s desire for peace also rests on his permanent willingness to make friendship with other countries, including adversary ones, and his permanent readiness for negotiations.

Only Solidar 6/5/16 09:35

President Ho Chi Minh announced, “We do not want to kick the French out of Vietnam… Vietnam needs France. France needs Vietnam, too. But only mutual trust and equal and sincere cooperation could lead the two countries to successful friendship.”

Deck Hero14 6/5/16 09:36

Ho Chi Minh’s view on the approach to peace and friendship among nations has, indeed, guided us to the major principles in dealing with affairs in international relations.

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