Courtesy Reuters

The Future of French Indo-China

ON APRIL 13, 1942, Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles made a very important declaration in a letter to the French Ambassador, Gaston Henry Haye, to the effect that the United States "recognizes the sovereign jurisdiction of the people of France over the territories of France and over French possessions overseas" and "fervently hopes that it may see the reëstablishment of the independence of France and of the integrity of French territory." The meaning of this statement is crystal clear. It applies without ambiguity to French Indo-China, which both technically and in practice was, and is, considered a French possession.

But the people of Indo-China will certainly not be satisfied with a mere return to the old established forms of colonial government. How will France reestablish her jurisdiction once the Japanese are expelled from the country and Admiral Decoux's puppet government has been ousted? And in what way will she give the native people a fair chance to prepare themselves for self-government? These questions must be carefully examined.


French Indo-China, it is interesting to note, is unique among the colonies of southeast Asia in that it has remained under the administration of its prewar government even though the substance of power has passed to the Japanese invaders. The French community is largely anti-Vichy and anti-Japanese, as are most of the officials and certainly all the petty officials. We can therefore justifiably expect that the reconquest of this territory will be facilitated by the attitude and the actions of the French community and of the French officials and that they will be eager to collaborate with the forces of the United Nations.

It is generally said that Indo-China yielded readily to the Japanese in 1940-41, or even that the French handed over the colony to enable the Japanese to use it as a base of operations for their subsequent moves south. The facts are very far from corroborating such a supposition.

As a result of the increased tension in southeast Asia, a

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