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French Policies towards the Chinese in Vietnam

A Study of Migration and Colonial Responses1
Les politiques françaises envers les Chinois du Viêt Nam : études des migrations et des réponses du colonisateur
Ramses Amer
p. 57-80

Résumés

Cette étude examine les modèles de la migration chinoise à destination et en provenance du Viêt Nam de même que les changements démographiques concernant les Chinois résidant dans le pays. Elle précise également les réponses des autorités françaises à l’arrivée des Chinois et le traitement qui leur était réservé. Elle traite tout spécialement la période du contrôle français sur le Viêt Nam de 1883 à 1954. Car les autorités françaises ont porté un intérêt considérable à la migration des Chinois au Viêt Nam. La politique française consistait à surveiller de près les Chinois. Pour l’administration des communautés chinoises les Français ont choisi de conserver le système de contrôle indirect mis en place par les empereurs vietnamiens. La population chinoise connut une croissance considérable pendant la période française. La migration vers et depuis le Viêt Nam était influencée par l’évolution politique de la Chine et par les répercussions des développements économiques internationaux. Même si les Français ont pu influencer les migrants à leur arrivée ou à leur départ, leurs décisions de partir étaient surtout dues à d’autres facteurs.

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Introduction

  • 1 One major study on the Chinese in Vietnam under the French has been published in the English langua (...)

1The purpose of this study is twofold. First, to examine the patterns of Chinese migration to and from Vietnam as well as the demographic changes relating to the Chinese residing in the country. Second, to outline how the French authorities responded to the arrival of the Chinese and how they treated them.

2The major focus will be on the period of French control over the whole of Vietnam from 1883 to 1954. Since Chinese migration to Vietnam is a historical phenomenon the period of direct Chinese rule over Vietnam as well as of independent Vietnam up to the arrival of the French, 111 BC to AD 1883 will be briefly analysed.

The Chinese in Vietnam up to the arrival of the French

The period of direct Chinese rule over Vietnam

  • 2 Although Vietnam was a part of the Chinese empire, the name Vietnam will be used while referring to (...)

3The first part of the pre-colonial history of Vietnam was the more than one thousand years of direct Chinese rule, from 111 BC to AD 939, when Vietnam gained independence (Buttinger 1972 : 37 ; Nguyen K. 1987 : 30). The migrants or settlers from China to Vietnam2 during this period comprised two categories ; a) those who came to colonise Vietnam – administrators, farmers and landlords – and b) those who sought refuge from political upheavals in other parts of the Chinese Empire.

4The Chinese migration that aimed at colonising Vietnam had an impact not only on the Vietnamese but on the Chinese settlers as well. Intermarriage and incorporation of the Chinese eventually led to the emergence of a new Sino-Vietnamese ruling class and of the social and economic decolonisation of Vietnam. This led to efforts aiming at establishing political independence from the Chinese Empire. From the first century to the 6th century AD, periods of dependence and semi-independence alternated with the latter gradually becoming more predominant (Holmgren 1980 : 171-173). Several rebellions against China were launched by the Sino-Vietnamese upper class under the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907). However, all these rebellions failed due to the strength of the Chinese Empire. It was not until the fall of the Tang dynasty, in AD 907, that Vietnam was capable of regaining complete independence in AD 939 (Buttinger 1972 : 36-37).

5As noted above, Vietnam also served as a destination for Chinese people who fled political upheavals in other parts of the Chinese Empire. One wave of refugees came in the turmoil preceding and following the fall of the Han dynasty in AD 220 (Buttinger 1972 : 35). Another wave came in AD 877, when Guangdong was attacked by pirates (Purcell 1965 : 181).

The period of Vietnamese independence

6Vietnam continued to play the role of a safe haven for people fleeing political upheavals in China even after independence in AD 939. One wave of immigrants came in the 13th century after the fall of the Song dynasty, when the Mongols occupied China. Another wave came in connection with the demise of the Ming dynasty, during the 17th century, when this dynasty was ousted by the Manchus (Chan 1966 : 1-10 ; Les Chinois en Annam 1883 : 285, 298 ; Luong 1963 : 3, 36 ; Purcell 1965 : 181-182 ; Tsai 1968 : 23).

7From the 18th century a more steady process of Chinese immigration started, which, at the outset, was not directly connected with political events in China.

  • 3 Luong’s (1963 : 36-50) analysis of the reasons for the imbalance in the number of Chinese settling (...)

8The Ming refugees during the 17th century and the Chinese migrants arriving from the 18th century onwards settled mainly in Cochinchina. In regard to the Ming refugees the Vietnamese Emperor decided that they should settle there. The later migrants came by sea directly to the southern part of Vietnam. Therefore, the major part of the Chinese residents in Vietnam came to live in Cochinchina. Only a minor group seems to have settled in the North. At this time Cochinchina was less populated than the other parts of Vietnam, which made it more interesting from the viewpoint of the immigrants (Luong 1963 : 36-40, 41, 44-50 ; Tsai 1968 : 23).3

9The Chinese were active in the commercial and agricultural sectors of the Vietnamese society and Chinese settlers played an important role in expanding Vietnamese control over the Mekong delta region during the 17th and 18th centuries. This region was earlier a part of Cambodia. The Chinese settlers also contributed greatly to the development of this region (Aubaret 1863 : 1-38 ; Bouchot 1926 : 17-18 ; Boudet 1942 : 115-132 ; Luong 1963 : 37-40 ; Purcell 1965 : 182-184 ; Tsai 1968 : 23-29 ; Willmott 1966 : 25-27).

  • 4 Corresponding to the dialects Cantonese, Teochiou, Hainanese (from the region of Haikéou on the isl (...)
  • 5 It should be noted that Tsai uses the French word congrégation as synonymous to bang.

10The Vietnamese Emperors opted to control the Chinese settlers by indirect as well as direct methods. The indirect approach was to allow the Chinese to administer their own affairs through communities called “bangs”, which were based on dialect and/or their province of origin in China. Officers, called “bang truong”, were chosen by the members of the bang, but had to be approved by the Vietnamese authorities. The bang truong were responsible to the Vietnamese authorities for the good behaviour of the members of their bang and for the payment of taxes. This system was created as early as 1787 and four bang were set up : “Kouangtchéou, Foukien, Tch’aotchéou et Hainan” (in Pinyin : Guangzhou, Fujian, Chaozhou and Hainan).4 The system of indirect administration of the Chinese settlers was reorganised in 1814 under the reign of Emperor Gia Long. The reorganisation led to the setting up of seven bang : “Tchangtchéou, Tsuantchéou, Tch’aotchéou, Kouangtchéou, Weitchéou, K’iongtchéou, et Houeitchéou” (in Pinyin : Guangzhou, Chaozhou, Qiongzhou, Fuzhou, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Huizhou) (Tsai 1968 : 29-31).5

  • 6 The three documents are referred to as pièce by Verdeille, and were numbered as follows : No 170 fr (...)

11The direct approach to controlling the Chinese came as a response to the influx of Chinese migrants, which prompted the Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mang to introduce legislation aiming at regulating the migration to Cochinchina, as well as at incorporating the migrants into the system of bang. This was done in three decisions from 1829, 1832 and 1838, respectively (Purcell 1965 : 189 ; Verdeille 1933 : 1-25).6

  • 7 Vietnamese is here used as analog to Annamite.

12The increasing number of Chinese also led to a growing number of children of mixed marriages between the Chinese and the Vietnamese.7 These children were referred to as Minh-Huong (Tsai 1968 : 32). Until 1829 they were considered to be Chinese ; thereafter they were regarded as Vietnamese and they were granted political rights. Moreover, through the decree of Ta Duc in 1849, they were allowed to participate in civil service examinations and thus, they were entitled to hold office in government service. As foreign citizens the Chinese could not work as government officials (Luong 1963 : 184-185 ; Purcell 1965 : 182).

13There are no specific population figures available pertaining to the Chinese in Vietnam, prior to the arrival of the French. However, it can be assumed that there must have been several tens of thousand of Chinese in the country. This assumption is based on the fact that Emperor Minh Mang had to regulate the influx of Chinese migrants, a measure that would not have been necessary if few Chinese were arriving in Vietnam.

  • 8 Tsai notes that this was the only massacre of Chinese during the history of Chinese migration to Vi (...)

14One of the few more precise figures is from 1782 and refers to an estimated 10,000-11,000 Chinese who were executed by the Taysons’ when the latter captured the city of Cholon during their rebellion against the Vietnamese Emperor. The Chinese had opted to side with the Vietnamese Emperor in the conflict (Luong 1963 : 39 ; Purcell 1965 : 184 ; Tsai 1968 : 28).8

The Chinese in Vietnam during the period of french colonial rule

The Chinese population in Vietnam

15There are several estimates pertaining to the number of Chinese in Vietnam as well as official censuses over the whole population in French-Indochina ranging from the early 1900s to the early 1950s. Table 1 is an overview of some of the figures over the number of Chinese from 1908 to 1953 and it displays that, overall, there was a sharp increase in the number of Chinese in Vietnam during the French colonial time. Nevertheless, some fluctuations can be observed. After a period of continuous growth there is a marked decrease during between 1928 and 1936, renewed growth between 1937 and 1951, and again a decline from 1951 to 1953. These developments relate to the whole of Vietnam and do not take into account possible differences pertaining to different parts of Vietnam.

  • 9 The figures for the following years are official ones or based on official sources : 1889, 1921, 19 (...)

Table 1 : Number of Chinese in the whole of Vietnam, 1908 to 19539

Year

Total number of Chinese

1908

138,284

1910

142,000

1913

189,000

1921

195,000

1922

214,760

1928

325,248

1931

267,000

1936

216,850

1937

217,000

1943

466,000

1949

668.301

1951

732,459

1952

613,576

1953

607,045

Sources : See tables 3 and 4.

16Since Cochinchina came under French control before the rest of Vietnam, population figures for the second half of the 19th century relating to that region merit some attention. Table 2 is an overview over the number of Chinese in Cochinchina from 1879 to 1889.

17The figures in table 2 display the difficulties in correctly assessing the number of Chinese residing in Cochinchina. The figures provided by Dubreuil, Tsai, Lemire and Luong indicate that there was indeed a continuous increase from 1879 and 1889. The figures provided by Bouinais and Paulus do not fit into this trend. A plausible explanation for the differences is that different methods were used to assess the number of Chinese. Bouinais and Paulus have based their estimates on tax payment for the calendar year 1880, thus their figure for 1880 refers to 1 January 1880 and the figure for 1881 refers to 1 January 1881. None of the other sources indicate the basis for their figures. However, Lemire refers to the population that was “fixe” in 1881. Dubreuil, Luong and Lemire refer only to the Chinese population in Cochinchina. Tsai refers to secondary sources for 1879 and 1886 and to the Annuaire de l’Indochine française pour l’année 1889 for the 1889 figure. None of the studies consulted covering the period from the late 19th into the early 20th century indicate that the Chinese population in Cochinchina diminished during the 1880s (Dubreuil 1910 ; Lafargue 1909 ; Tsai 1968). Therefore, the figures provided by Dubreuil, Tsai, Lemire, and Luong and reflected in table 2 will be regarded as more reliable.

18Table 2 : Number of Chinese in Cochinchina during the late 19th century

  • 10 Cornu (1879 : 21) puts the figure at 44,453 in 1879 in reference to the Annuaire of 1879. Thus, he (...)
  • 11 Luong (1963 : 41) refers to a figure of 56,528 Chinese.

Year

Total number of Chinese

1879

44,00010

1880

63,088

1881(a)

69,475

1881(b)

52,418

1886

56,000

1889

57,00011

Sources : 1879 Dubreuil (1910 : 101) ; 1879, 1886 & 1889 Tsai (1968 : 38) ; 1880 & 1881(a) Bouinais & Paulus (1885 : 277) ; 1881(b) Lemire (1884 : 22) ; 1889 Luong (1963 : 41).

19From the early 20th century figures over the number of Chinese are available from the three parts of Vietnam – Cochinchina, Annam, and Tonkin – and the situation in each of these three regions can be studied for the period up to 1937. During the period 1943-1953 Vietnam was divided into four parts – South Vietnam, Highlands, Central Vietnam and North Vietnam.

20Table 3 shows that as the majority of the Chinese settled down in Cochinchina, the trend for this region is reflected in the trend for the country taken as a whole, i.e. a period of continuous growth up to 1928 followed by a decrease thereafter. Annam displays a different pattern with the number of Chinese slowly but consistently increasing over the period. The number of Chinese in Tonkin went up and down with a sharp increase between 1910 and 1913, then a decrease between 1913 and 1921, yet another increase between 1921 and 1931, and finally a decrease between 1931 and 1936-1937 (see table 3).

  • 12 The figures given for the years 1949 to 1953 correspond to the number of Chinese as of 31st Decembe (...)

21The trends in table 4 display similarities with the trends during to the period 1879-1937. The trend for South Vietnam is almost identical to the trend for the country taken as a whole, i.e. growth from 1943 to 1951, and a decrease between 1951 and 1953.12 The Highlands display a different pattern with the number of Chinese slowly but consistently increasing over the period. The number of Chinese in Central Vietnam went up and down with a sharp decrease between 1943 and 1950, a sharp increase between 1950 and 1951, and with only minor changes from 1951 to 1953. The number of Chinese in North Vietnam also went up and down with a decrease between 1943 and 1949, followed by an increase between 1949 and 1950, and finally a decrease from 1950 to 1953 (see table 4).

  • 13 Marsot (1993 :90-100) provides a wealth of different figures in particular for the period from 1908 (...)

Table 3 : Number of Chinese in Vietnam 1879 to 1937 by regions13

  • 14 This figure is cited from Lafargue (1909 : 279). Hückel has provided more precise figures for parts (...)
  • 15 Figure from Lafargue (1909 : 287-288). No figure provided by Hückel.
  • 16 The figure does not include 2,435 persons listed as métis by Hückel (1908a : 302). Lafargue (1909 : (...)
  • 17 Inclusive of approximately 40,000 Minh-Huong (Dubreuil 1910 : 101).
  • 18 Inclusive of 2,000 métis (Dubreuil 1910 : 106).
  • 19 This figure does not include 60,600 Minh-Huong (De Tessan 1922 : 396).
  • 20 This figure does not include 62,000 Minh-Huong (Levasseur 1938 : 39, n. 2).
  • 21 This figure does not include 11,000 Minh-Huong (Levasseur 1938 : 39, n. 2).

Cochinchina

Annam

Tonkin

Total

1879

44,000

-

-

44,000

1889

57,000

-

-

57,000

1908

90,00014

5,00015

22,02916

138,284

1910

115,00017

5,000

22,00018

142,000

1913

141,100

6,100

41,800

189,000

1921

156,000

7,000

32,000

195,000

1922

174,76019

-

40,000

214,760

1928

271,117

7,948

46,183

325,248

1931

205,000

10,000

52,000

267,000

1936

170,70020

10,650

35,50021

216,850

1937

171,000

11,000

35,000

217,000

Sources : 1879 & 1910 Dubreuil (1910 : 101-107) ; 1879, 1889, 1921 & 1931 Tsai (1968 : 38-41) ; 1889, 1921 & 1931 Luong (1963 : 41-42) ; 1908 Hückel (1908a : 302, 1908b : 580) ; 1908 Lafargue (1909 : 278-288) ; 1913 Archimbauld (1927 : 643) ; 1921, 1931 & 1937 Purcell (1965 : 173-175) ; 1922 De Tessan (1922 : 396-397) ; 1928 Brechot & Coulet (1929 : 460-461) ; 1936 Levasseur (1938 : 6, 39) ; 1937 Ng (1974 : 48).

Table 4 : Chinese population in Vietnam 1943 to 1953 by regions

South Vietnam

Highlands

Central Vietnam

North Vietnam

Total

1943

397,300

900

15,000

53,000

466,000

1949

621,286

1,019

-

45,996

668,301

1950

658,000

1,490

3,700

60,000

723,190

1951

657,300

1,499

13,712

59,948

732,459

1952

542,004

1,698

11,457

58,417

613,576

1953

541,718

-

12,865

52,462

607,045

Sources : 1943, 1949 & 1950 Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (1951 : 23, 30-31). 1951 Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (1952 : 28). 1952 Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (1953 : 27). 1953 Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (1955 : 27).

22How can the pattern of changes in the number of Chinese in the whole country be explained ? There are two aspects to discuss.

  • The first assumes that the changes in the number of Chinese are mainly due to the flows of Chinese migration to and from Vietnam.

  • The second relates to the reliability of the figures and to different principles of classification. Persons of mixed Chinese-Vietnamese origin could have been classified as Vietnamese or Chinese or as Minh-Huong/métis and different classifications would give different figures for the number of Chinese.

  • 22 The figures are listed in Appendix A.

23There are three sources providing statistics concerning the arrivals and departures of Chinese during specific years. The first source – Tsai – provides figures over the number of arriving and departing Chinese migrants through the port of Saigon annually for the period 1925 to 1953. According to these figures there was a surplus of arrivals almost continuously from 1925 to 1939 with the exceptions of 1931 and 1932 when there was a surplus of departures. During the period 1940 to 1946 the number of departures was greater, except in 1945. In 1947 and 1948 only arrivals were registered. No figures are given for 1949 and finally the number of departures exceeded the arrivals from 1950 to 1953. The combined inbound and outbound flows were much smaller during the periods 1940-1946 and 1950-1953 than during 1925-1939 and 1947-1948 (Tsai 1968 : 40). (See Appendix A).22

  • 23 Luong (1963 : 55) also provides figures for 1947 when the surplus of arrivals was 9,961 and for 195 (...)
  • 24 Luong (1963 : 56-57) also notes that illegal infiltration of Chinese into Vietnam had always been c (...)

24The second source – Luong – compares the arrivals and departures of Chinese migrants to the whole of Vietnam for the years 1923 to 1942.23 According to these statistics there was a surplus of arrivals 1923 to 1930 and from 1934 to 1939 as well as in 1942. There was a surplus of Chinese departing from Vietnam from 1931 to 1933 and in 1940 and 1941 (Luong 1963 : 55). (See Appendix B).24

25The third source is the Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (Statistical Yearbook of Vietnam) of which the first volume was published in 1950. The precise figures over the number of Chinese arriving in and departing from Vietnam annually from 1950 to 1953 can be obtained from the Statistical Yearbooks for 1950-1951, 1951-1952 and for 1952-1953. These figures are presented in table 5.

Table 5 : Migration of Chinese to and from Vietnam 1950 to 1953

South Vietnam

Highlands

Central Vietnam

North Vietnam

Total

1950 (Arr.)

3,674

106

2

2,889

6,671

1950 (Dep.)

5,010

26

8

2,968

8,012

1950 (Difference)

- 1336

+ 80

- 6

- 79

- 1,341

1951 (Arr.)

2,153

52

2

2,037

4,244

1951 (Dep.)

2,946

9

3

2,067

5,025

1951(Difference)

- 793

+ 43

- 1

- 30

- 781

1952 (Arr.)

2,208

2

37

1,923

4,170

1952 (Dep.)

3,084

8

46

1,838

4,976

1952 (Difference)

- 876

- 6

- 9

+ 85

- 806

1953 (Arr.)

1,494

-

22

1,328

2,844

1953 (Dep.)

1,716

2

15

1,328

3,061

1953 (Difference)

- 222

- 2

+ 7

0

- 217

Sources : 1950 & 1951 Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (1952 : 39-40), 1952 Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (1953 : 38) ; 1953 Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam (1955 : 38).

26The Statistical Yearbooks show that there was indeed a small surplus of departures during each of the four years but the figures do not indicate any dramatic exodus of Chinese from Vietnam. The number of people arriving and departing decreased each of the four years. The figures do not provide an explanation to the sizeable decline in the number of Chinese in South Vietnam from 1951 to 1952. The decline may be explained by two factors. First, a change in nationality which would mean that a number of Chinese which were classified as Vietnamese citizens in 1952, and second that persons of mixed Chinese and Vietnamese origin were classified as Chinese citizens in 1951 and as Vietnamese citizens in 1952. The second factor will be addressed at a later stage of this study.

27Both Tsai and Luong indicate that there were more departures in the early 1930s than earlier and that the Chinese population did not increase during this period. The cause was the world-wide economic depression. The reason behind the large influx to Vietnam from 1937 to 1939 was the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese military occupation of French-Indochina 1940 to 1945 brought the migration in both directions to a low level. The large influx in 1947 and 1948 can be explained by the Civil War in China. The limited movements in the years 1950 to 1953 can be explained by the halt in the migration from mainland China after the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 (Amer 1991 : 11 ; Luong 1963 : 51-58 ; Tsai 1968 : 38-42).

28In short, for the period up to the late 1920s there seems to be no disagreement over the fact that the Chinese population increased. The drop in the number of Chinese in Vietnam between 1928 and 1931 cannot be attributed to the flows of Chinese migrations to and from Vietnam while the decrease between 1931 and 1936 and the increase from 1936-1937 to 1951 can be explained by the pattern of migration.

29The simplest way of approaching the issue of the reliability of the figures would be to accept the results of the official censuses conducted by the French authorities as reliable, whereas figures based on estimates made by researchers would be used more cautiously. However, an official figure can be based on a census or on an estimate but it may still be unreliable if the definition used for categorising a person as “Chinese” was inadequate and/or if the definition has been altered over time. Furthermore, estimates made by a researcher can be reliable if they are based on a survey that was carried out in a meticulous way. Thus, the official French figures as well as the estimates by researchers can have a higher or lower degree of reliability. In this context it should be noted that the first official census encompassing the whole of Vietnam was not carried out until 1921. Furthermore, it is not possible to assess how the counting was done and consequently how the official figures were arrived at before 1921.

30Any attempt at estimating the number of Chinese in Vietnam ought to indicate whether people of mixed Chinese-Vietnamese origin are included or not. The sources used in table 2 indicate that different approaches have been used. The following authors have not indicated whether their figures include persons of mixed origin : Archimbauld, Brechot and Coulet, Lafargue, Luong, Ng, Purcell, and Tsai. Hückel and Levasseur have not included the Minh-Huong in the figures for Cochinchina and Tonkin for 1908 and 1936, respectively. De Tessan did not include the Minh-Huong in the figure for Cochinchina in 1922. Ng and Purcell most probably have not included the métis, as indicated by the 1937 figure, which is almost identical to Levasseur’s figure of 1936. This can be assumed to be valid for the figures provided by Purcell for 1921 and 1931 as well. Thus, both Luong and Tsai can be assumed to have used the same principle. Dubreuil on the other hand has stated that the métis are included in his figures for Cochinchina and Tonkin of 1910. It is also noteworthy that none of the sources provides any estimate over the number of Minh-Huong/métis in Annam.

31The available estimates over the number of Minh-Huong/métis in Vietnam during the period 1879 to 1944 can be seen in Table 6. In the case of Cochinchina an increase is obvious between 1910 and 1921, a decrease between 1921 and 1922, an increase between 1922 and 1931, followed by a new decrease between 1931 and 1936 and finally an increase between 1936 and 1944. The causes of these fluctuations can probably be addressed through an investigation of the legal status of the Minh-Huong/métis. The figures do not tell us much about Tonkin since there is a gap from 1910 to 1936 as well as from 1936 to 1944.

Table 6 : Number of Minh-Huong/métis in Vietnam 1908 to 1944

Cochinchina

Annam

Tonkin

Total

1908

-

-

2,435

2,435

1910

40,000

-

2,000

42,000

1921

64,500

-

-

64,500

1922

60,600

-

-

60,600

1931

73,000

-

-

73,000

1936

62,000

-

11,000

73,000

1944

80,000

-

-

80,000

Sources : 1910 Dubreuil (1910 : 101-106) ; 1908 Hückel (1908a : 302) ; 1921 & 1931 Tsai (1968 : 53-54) ; 1921 & 1931 Purcell (1965 : 179-180) ; 1922 De Tessan (1922 : 396) ; 1936 Levasseur (1938 : 39) ; 1944 Shrock et al. (1966 : 933).

32In regard to the legal status of the Minh-Huong it can be noted that on 23 August 1871 an arrêté by the French authorities included the Minh-Huong in the list of foreigners who were assimilated with the indigenous population (i.e. the Vietnamese) (Levasseur 1938 : 53 ; Tsai 1968 : 3). Thus, the Minh-Huong were not regarded as Chinese citizens. However, a Decree of 3 October 1883 stated that the Minh-Huong who had Chinese fathers and who lived in Cochinchina were to be regarded as foreign citizens, presumably Chinese citizens (Levasseur 1938 : 53-54). Also in 1883 the Gouverneur général of French-Indochina issued a décision which stated that the Minh-Huong born in Hanoi, Haiphong and Tourane would have the nationality of their fathers (Tsai 1968 : 54). A French Decree of 24 August 1933 gave a clear picture of the nationality status of the Minh-Huong. The Minh-Huong were divided into three categories : subjects of the French Empire in Asia (i.e. French citizens), persons under French protection (i.e. Vietnamese citizens), and foreigners (i.e. Chinese citizens) (Levasseur 1938 : 64, Tsai 1968 : 54-55). The following Minh-Huong fell within each of these categories.

    • 25 Cochinchina had the status of French colony whereas Annam and Tonkin had the status of French prote (...)

    Category one. The Minh-Huong born and/or living in Cochinchina as well as their descendants, and the Minh-Huong born after 28 September 1933 in the territories under direct French administration,25 i.e. the cities of Hanoi, Haiphong and Tourane.

  • Category two. The Minh-Huong born in Annam (except the city of Tourane), and the Minh-Huong born in Tonkin before 1 July 1931 or after 8 November 1936 (except the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong).

  • Category three. The Minh-Huong born in Cochinchina, in Hanoi, in Haiphong, and in Tourane between 3 October 1883 and 24 September 1933 and the Minh-Huong born in Tonkin between 1 July 1931 and 8 November 1936 (Levasseur 1938 : 64-65 ; Tsai 1968 : 54-55).

33It appears that there were no clear principles for the classification of the Minh-Huong prior to 1933. After the decree of 1933 no such problems should have remained for those responsible for the official statistics nor for researchers. This raises the question if the lack of clear principles for classifying the Minh-Huong can explain the drop in the number of Chinese from 1928 to 1931 ? If it is assumed from the figures in table 6 that there were about 60,000 Minh-Huong in Cochinchina and at least 5,000 in Tonkin and if these 65,000 persons are deducted from the total figure of 325,000 Chinese in 1928, there would have remained 260,000 persons, which corroborates fairly well with the 1931 figure of 267,000 persons. An alternative way of explaining the difference would be to argue that the figure for 1931 underestimated the number of Chinese. It should, however, be recalled that the 1931 figure is an official one, whereas the figure for 1928 is an estimate. The difference between 1928 and 1931 cannot be explained by any official re-definition of the legal status of the Minh-Huong during that period.

34In regard to the decline in the number of Chinese in South Vietnam from 1951 to 1952 the possible inclusion of the Minh-Huong as Chinese citizens in 1951 and as Vietnamese citizens in 1952 could account for a major part of the decline. The question is whether it could account for the whole decline. The decline in the number of Chinese was close to 120,000 persons and it is known that there were 80,000 Minh-Huong in 1944. However, the Statistical Yearbooks do not indicate any change in the basis for classification between 1951 and 1952. In fact the Yearbooks do not specify the basis for classification.

35From this examination of the available estimates over the number of Chinese in Vietnam follows that the figures are not fully comparable since the process through which they have been obtained and/or categorised has not been fully accounted for in all sources. The inclusion or non-inclusion of the Minh-Huong/métis is another apparent problem. To conclude this discussion it is appropriate to take note of De Tessan’s remarks that statistics relating to the Chinese are approximates and lower than the actual number (De Tessan 1922 : 397).

French policies toward the Chinese in Vietnam26

Introduction

36The central issue in this study is to analyse the responses of the French authorities to the Chinese migration to Vietnam. An overview will also be given of the French policies towards the Chinese in general and of attempts made by China to influence these policies.

37On the subject of the French responses to the Chinese migration some studies from the early 20th century, e.g. Lafargue in 1909 and Dubreuil in 1910, as well as studies carried out in the late 1930s and early 1940s, e.g. Levasseur in 1938 and Nguyen Q. in 1941, will be consulted. Attention will mainly be focused on regulations concerning Chinese migration to and from the different parts of Vietnam.

Cochinchina

  • 27 Dubreuil (1910 : 22) claims that the arrêté of 18 March 1874 made the affiliation to a Chinese cong (...)
  • 28 Dubreuil (1910 : 22) claims that the Bureau was established through the arrêté of 18 March 1874, wh (...)

38In Cochinchina the French authorities began implementing liberal rules for Chinese migration through the décisions of 11 August 1862, 4 February 1863, 1 November 1863, and 12 April 1885. The arriving Chinese were granted the freedom to join or not to join the existing Chinese congrégations. The first décision divided the Chinese in two categories, those joining a congrégation and those working for Europeans or workers admitted by the police. However, the décision of 1 November 1863 compelled the Chinese immigrants belonging to the second category to organise themselves into workers’ corporations. These corporations were abolished through the arrêté of 5 October 1871 and to be accepted as member by a Chinese congrégation became compulsory. However, one exception to this rule was made for those Chinese immigrants who possessed an employment contract with a European agricultural company. The system of compulsory affiliation to a Chinese congrégation was extended to all Chinese immigrants entering Cochinchina through the arrêté of 23 January 1885 (Lafargue 1909 : 206-208 ; Nguyen Q. 1941 : 56-57).27 Since we are dealing with the issue of migration it can be noted that in 1874 a Bureau de l’Immigration was created in Saigon (Dubreuil 1910 : 22 ; Lafargue 1909 : 47).28

39Subsequent arrêtés, prior to 1930, did not in essence change any of the basic rules. It is, however, relevant to examine the process through which Chinese migrants were received upon their arrival in Cochinchina. Those who disembarked in Saigon were screened aboard the ships by the immigration authorities and the Heads of the Chinese congrégations and they had to have a medical check-up. The immigrants can be divided into two groups. First, those for whom the Head of the congrégation would, straight off, guarantee the payment of taxes. They would be given a personnal laissez-passer valid for thirty days after which it would be replaced by a resident permit for the current year. Second, the other immigrants were brought to arrival centres. At these centres they had to fill in the necessary forms to be accepted as members by the Head of a congrégation. In the case of a Chinese not being accepted as a member by any congrégation he or she would be repatriated to China. Chinese immigrants entering Cochinchina through other locations than Saigon had to report, in the company of the Head of the congrégation to which they were to belong, in accordance with their origin, to the Head Administrator of the province in question and upon payment of a fee a residence permit would be issued. Would an immigrant wish to reside elsewhere in Cochinchina he or she would receive a laissez-passer valid for 30 days. Chinese who wished to migrate from Cochinchina had to obtain exit permits (Dubreuil 1910 : 22-23).

40For Chinese visitors two rules were enforced. First, for visitors arriving in Saigon there was a permit for a three months stay with the right to move around freely in all provinces but it was not renewable. Second, visitors with passports delivered by French consuls in other countries would be given the right to remain in Cochinchina for a period of six months (Dubreuil 1910 : 23).

Tonkin and Annam

41In regard to Tonkin one has to differentiate between the Chinese entering Tonkin by land and those arriving by sea. According to the arrêtés of 5 December 1892 and of 11 April 1900, all Chinese arriving by land had to carry a passport issued according to the diplomatic agreements between China and France and a number of crossing points were established at the border. Through the arrêté of 11 August 1902 the border police had to inform the relevant authorities in the provinces of Tonkin or in the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong about the arrival of the immigrants. Furthermore, the immigrants had to have their passports registered by the administrative authorities at the locality of their destination. According to the arrêté of 27 September 1892 the Chinese immigrants entering Tonkin by sea did not have to carry passports but had to report to the closest located representative of the Administration of the Protectorate. All Chinese immigrants had to be accepted as member by a congrégation upon their arrival and get a personnel carte de séjour to be renewed on 1 January each year, as was stipulated in the arrêté of 27 December 1886. It can also be noted that, in accordance with the arrêté of 15 May 1890, Chinese merchants could get special passports delivered by the French consuls in China and they could enter Tonkin for a period not exceeding two months. After two months they had to leave the Protectorate or conform with the regulations applying to those Chinese wishing to reside there. This arrêté was intended to encourage the commercial relations between Tonkin and China (Dubreuil 1910 : 27-29).

42Three arrêtés regulated the movements of the Chinese immigrants between the provinces in Tonkin. In short, movements were restricted and the immigrants needed official permits to move from one province to another. The arrêtés of 27 December 1888 and of 1 June 1897 dealt with those arriving by land and wishing to go to another province than the one indicated in their passports. The arrêté of 23 November 1895 dealt with those who wished to change their place of residence from one province to another. Finally, according to the arrêté of 27 December 1886, a Chinese who had been admitted to reside in Tonkin could only leave the Protectorate after obtaining a passport delivered by the Résident of the province (Dubreuil 1910 : 29-30).

43In Annam the system of regulations concerning Chinese migration was analog to that of Tonkin through the following arrêtés of 20 May 1887, of 24 June 1889, of 15 May 1890, of 31 January 1891, of 9 September 1895, and of 1 June 1897 (Dubreuil 1910 : 30).

44To sum up the system of regulations concerning Chinese migrations to the three parts of Vietnam, the central common feature was that the Chinese immigrants had to become members of a Chinese congrégation to be allowed to reside in Vietnam.

The 1930s

45The arrêté of 6 December 193529 issued by the Gouverneur général is of primary interest. This arrêté divided the Chinese arriving in the three parts of Vietnam into immigrants and non-immigrants. All persons coming to Vietnam to work or who would remain in Vietnam longer than one month were regarded as immigrants. The non-immigrants could in principle only enter with a valid passport issued by the competent Chinese authorities and with a valid visa delivered by the French authorities. However, there were several exceptions to the requirement of passports for different groups such as fishermen and inhabitants of regions bordering Tonkin. The Chinese immigrants had, in principle, to fulfil the same regulations as the non-immigrants as well as some additional requirements. However, the demand that immigrants carry a valid passport had been liberalised. First, the arrêté of 6 December 1935 foresaw that the Heads of the local Administration could allow people to enter without passports. Second, the arrêté of 10 October 1936 issued by the Gouverneur général went further by stating that the Chinese immigrants settling down in Cochinchina as employees in companies in various economic fields as well as in households would not have to produce a passport to enter the three parts of Vietnam. Nevertheless, there was an additional prerequisite to be fulfilled by the immigrants namely to be accepted as member by a Chinese congrégation. An exception to this rule was made for those immigrants who had contracts to work with French companies (Levasseur 1938 : 86-92 ; Nguyen Q. 1941 : 54-62). Like all other immigrants the Chinese had to carry identity cards but they paid less to get the cards. Furthermore, only men between the ages of 18 to 60 had to carry identity cards. The Chinese immigrants were free to move around throughout French Indochina. The Chinese wishing to leave Vietnam definitely could do so after fulfilling certain formalities. First, the identity card or laissez-passer had to be given back to the Head of the province or to the immigration authorities. These authorities would in exchange provide the Chinese with an exit certificate. However, the certificate would only be issued if the Head of the congrégation or the employer confirmed that the emigrant was not indebted to the treasury (Levasseur 1938 : 103-110).

46The regulations concerning Chinese immigration from the mid-1930s did not in practice differ much from the regulations of the late 19th century. Nevertheless, some changes can be noted. First, the compulsory membership of a Chinese congrégation from 1885 was liberalised in the mid-1930s by exempting those who had contracts to work with French companies. Second, the freedom of movement within French Indochina had been greatly extended in the mid-1930s, in particular for the Chinese residing in Tonkin and Annam.

Encouraging or discouraging Chinese immigration ?

  • 29 The full text of the Treaty of Chongking has been reproduced in Chen (1969 : 360-374).

47Tsai has addressed the question whether France encouraged or discouraged Chinese immigration to Vietnam and in particular to Cochinchina. He claims that France encouraged migration to Cochinchina up to the early 20th century and then shifted to a policy of discouraging immigration during the period 1906 to 1921. However, these efforts were not entirely successful but they had the effect of slowing down the influx of Chinese. Tsai also mentions World War I and its effect on the world economy as a contributing factor to the slow-down. He does not make any assessment of the attitude of the French authorities to the migration during the 1920s and 1930s. In regard to the 1940s Tsai describes how the French authorities, beginning in 1948, manifested their intention to halt the large influx of Chinese immigrants. The French were hampered by the Treaty of Chongking of 28 February 194629 that prohibited any direct measures. The only conditions that the French authorities could implement were that the immigrants should be in good health and carry valid passports (Tsai 1968 : 38-44).

The Chinese congrégations

48In view of the important role played by the Chinese congrégations in the French policies towards the Chinese in Vietnam, an overview of the system of congrégations is necessary.

49The French authorities not only maintained the system of bang, which they renamed congrégations, but also made extensive use of it for their own purpose. The French gradually reduced the number of congrégations from seven to five in Cochinchina : Canton, Hainan, Hakka, Fukien, and Teochiu. Initially only one congrégation was created in Annam and Tonkin, respectively, to incorporate all foreigners. However, in Annam four Chinese congrégations were later legally recognised : Canton, Fukien, Hainan, and Teochiu. The same was the case in Hanoi and Haiphong where two Chinese congrégations were recognised, Canton and Fukien. In other parts of Tonkin flexibility was applied on a local basis (Dubreuil 1910 : 33-35 ; Hückel 1908a : 291, 297, 1908b : 567 ; Purcell 1965 : 176).

  • 30 The texts of the Treaties of Nanjing of 1930 and 1935 as well as related documentation have been re (...)

50Some more observations can be made in regard to the process through which the general regulations concerning the congrégations evolved up to the mid-1930s. In Cochinchina the first regulation was issued on 11 August 1862. There were still seven recognised congrégations at the time of the arrêté of 5 October 1871, but by the time of the arrêté of 23 January 1885 only five remained. The arrêté of 6 October 1906 was the result of a process initiated because of complaints made by China during the 1890s and the early 1900s. This arrêté summarised and structured the general principles governing the congrégations in earlier legislations and made some necessary readjustments. It was to constitute the basic set of regulations for the congrégations in Cochinchina prior to the ratification of the Treaties of Nanjing of 1930 and 1935.30 The experiences gained in Cochinchina served as useful guidelines when dealing with the congrégations elsewhere in French Indochina (Nguyen Q. 1941 : 44-48, 52-54).

51In Tonkin the fist arrêté dealing with the Chinese congrégations was issued on 27 December 1886. As in Cochinchina a process of reassessment took place in Tonkin and a Commission was set up for that purpose in 1903 but its recommendations were not implemented. A renewed effort was made beginning in 1909 when the recommendations of the 1903 Commission were re-evaluated and eventually they were implemented as an arrêté on 12 December 1913 (Nguyen Q. 1941 : 51-54).

52In Annam the Chinese continued to live under the rules of the Vietnamese Emperor until 1889. The first arrêté dealing with the Chinese congrégations was issued on 24 June 1890. Annam had to wait until 28 April 1926 to get an arrêté reforming the regulations pertaining to the Chinese congrégations based on the 1913 arrêté of Tonkin (Nguyen Q. 1941 : 50-54).

53The Treaties of Nanjing gave the opportunity to create a uniform system of regulations for the whole of French Indochina (Nguyen Q. 1941 : 53).

54The Chinese congrégations played a dual role. The congrégations had obligations towards the French authorities as well as towards their members. The role played by the congrégations in regard to Chinese migration to and from Vietnam has been outlined above. It appears that the French authorities used the congrégations to control Chinese immigration. The compulsory membership in a congrégation gave the Heads of the congrégations a crucial role in assisting the immigrants in obtaining their residence permits. The Heads of the congrégations played a central role within two other fields as well, namely public order and taxation. In the field of public order the French authorities continuously opted to rely on the Chinese congrégations to ensure the maintenance of public order, beginning in the first arrêté of 11 August 1862 in Cochinchina, and these duties were reiterated by the arrêté of 6 December 1935 by the Gouverneur général. In the arrêté of 1935 it was stated that the Heads and Deputy-Heads of the congrégations should concur with the agents of the administration to provide police supervision of their congrégations. In the field of taxation the French authorities relied on the Heads of the congrégations to collect the taxes due by their members. This system stemmed from the collective responsibility assumed by the congrégations when granting membership to the Chinese immigrants. Although the system of indirect rule may have had its weaknesses, from the view-point of the French authorities it was obviously preferable to a more direct approach. Since the Heads and Deputy-Heads of the congrégations were responsible for the payment of taxes to the French authorities they had a personal interest in assuring that taxes were indeed collected. Should they fail to fulfil their responsibilities, they could face punishment as stipulated in the arrêté of 6 December 1935 (Nguyen Q. 1941 : 125-165).

55The congrégations also had a role to play in terms of assisting its members in the social, spiritual, cultural, and educational fields. These functions included the running of schools and hospitals as well as the administration of temples, meeting halls and cemeteries. The congrégations were only allowed to own the properties needed to carry out their activities. They were also allowed to levy taxes on their members to cover the costs of their activities. The tax-level was decided by the Head of the local Administration and the levying of the taxes was supervised by the Administration. One restriction put on the congrégations was that they could not engage themselves in commercial activities (Levasseur 1938 : 100 ; Nguyen Q. 1941 : 76).

Taxation

56Another feature of the French policies towards the Chinese in the three parts of Vietnam merits some observation, namely the field of taxation. The Chinese were subject to a heavy tax burden. Apart from the general taxes common to the ones paid also by the Vietnamese nationals, a number of special taxes and fees were levied only on the Chinese. The most controversial of these special taxes was the capitation tax to cover the costs incurred by the French administration. The tax levels were different in the three parts of Vietnam and the levels were continuously revised and different categories were created (Dubreuil 1910 : 24-26, 30-31 ; Lafargue 1909 : 29-203 ; Nguyen Q. 1941 : 140-156 ; Tsai 1968 : 45-47).

  • 31 Unger argues that the agreement in 1946 favoured the Chinese Government more than the Chinese in Vi (...)

57The capitation tax was unpopular among the Chinese immigrants and also attracted criticism from the Chinese authorities. Efforts by China to ensure that the French authorities did not discriminate against the Chinese residents in Vietnam are evidenced by the Treaty of Tianjin of 1885 and by the Commercial Convention of 1886. Complaints by China in the 1890s and early 1900s have been noted earlier. China continued to voice its discontent about taxation and also wanted to achieve changes to the system of congrégations. The issues were raised at negotiations between China and France in 1930 and in 1935, without resulting in any change, but finally, by the Treaty of Chongking of 1946, the system of congrégations was changed into a more acceptable form from China’s point of view. One of the changes implied that the Chinese consuls in Vietnam got the right to veto the choice of Heads of the congrégations. The Treaty also included an improvement in terms of taxation since it stated that the taxes levied on the Chinese could not be heavier than those imposed on Vietnamese nationals. As a result of the Treaty of Chongking the Chinese congrégations were abolished and replaced by the Groupements administratifs chinois régionaux (Chinese Regional Administrative Groups) through a Decree of 28 September 1948 (Chen 1969 : 142, 371 ; Luong 1963 : 118-119 ; Purcell 1965 : 189-190 ; Tsai 1968 : 35 ; Unger 1985 : 8-9).31

Economic role

58Economically the Chinese in Vietnam played an important role in the fishing sector and they were predominant in trade and industry. Important business, centred around rice, was controlled by Chinese merchants and Chinese syndicates. The Chinese were also the main money-lenders (Luong 1963 : 83-107 ; Purcell, 1965 : 190-199).

59In this context it should be noted that due to French regulations the Chinese gained access to different sectors of the economy only gradually. First, they invested in commerce and in industries related to rice because they were prohibited from engaging in any industry where they would compete with French investments. Second, after the Treaty of Nanjing of 1930, the Chinese were allowed to deal with export and to set up industries. Third, after the Treaty of Chongking of 1946, the Chinese were allowed to access the mining sector and to engage in the buying and selling of real estate (Tran 1992 : 18).

60The world-wide economic depression in the early 1930s hit the Chinese hard and subsequently they did not regain all the economic influence that they lost due to the depression. Another contributing factor was the increase in trade between France and Vietnam, following the depression (Purcell 1965 : 199).

World War II and its aftermath

61The effects of World War II on Chinese migration to and from Vietnam have been analysed and the Treaty of Chongking between China and France has also been noted some additional observations cane be made relating to the key impact of the Chinese occupation of the northern half of Vietnam from late August 1945 to March 1946 gave the Chinese government an opportunity to conduct negotiations with the French from a position of strength and the French side made some concessions to the benefit of the Chinese in Vietnam particularly in terms of lower taxes. The Chinese occupation of northern Vietnam also created a security environment in which the large Chinese communities in Hanoi and Haiphong became more active and independent-minded. China reopened its consulate in Hanoi by mid-December 1945 and it immediately began dismantling the system of congrégations. Subsequent, attempts by the French to reimpose the system in Tonkin were abandoned in 1947. This evolution contributed to the demise of the Chinese congrégations (Unger 1985 : 4-5, 8-9).

Concluding remarks

62The French authorities did pay considerable attention to the Chinese migration to Vietnam. It seems as though the policies of the French aimed at keeping a close surveillance on the Chinese beginning at their point of arrival and continuing throughout their period of residence in Vietnam. To administer the Chinese communities the French opted to maintain the system of indirect control introduced by the Vietnamese Emperors. Through the system of congrégations the French could more effectively, not only control, but also levy taxes on the Chinese. The Chinese congrégations also relieved the French authorities from many social obligations towards the Chinese by running, among other things, hospitals and schools. The French seem to have been satisfied with the way the system of congrégations functioned. This can be seen from the attempt to reimpose the system following their return to northern Vietnam in 1946.

63The Chinese in Vietnam were displeased with the heavy tax burden which they had to carry and since one of the important functions of the congrégations was to handle the payment of the taxes due by their members the Chinese must have felt that the congrégations were a tool of French oppression. After all the role of the congrégations in the educational, social and spiritual fields could have been fulfilled by associations created voluntarily by the Chinese and did not necessitate the system of congrégations enforced in Vietnam.

64China’s concern for the Chinese in Vietnam was motivated by a desire to improve the conditions under which the Chinese were living by ensuring that the French authorities did not discriminate the Chinese. China also wanted to gain direct influence over how the Chinese were administered in Vietnam. Such an influence could well have been beneficiary to China but did not necessarily improve the situation of the Chinese.

65During the period of French rule over Vietnam the Chinese population grew considerably. The question whether the French encouraged or discouraged Chinese immigration has been discussed in the study and it is obvious that after World War II France tried to discourage Chinese immigration. Prior to World War II the regulations concerning Chinese immigration were fairly consistent and did not prevent immigration. The Chinese constituted a good source of tax revenues for the French authorities and this would point to a willingness to encourage immigration, but the economic prowess of the Chinese could be perceived as threatening the interests of the French settlers. In short, there were aspects of Chinese immigration which could be perceived as positive as well as negative by the French authorities. As it seems the major trends in Chinese migration to and from Vietnam were influenced by the political evolution in China and by the repercussions of the international economic evolution. It can therefore be argued that the behaviour of the French authorities could have had some effect on the migrants when they arrived or departed but the decision to migrate was primarily due to other factors.

Haut de page

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Haut de page

Annexe

Appendix A

Movement of Chinese passing through the port of Saigon entering or departing from South-Vietnam (Period 1925-1953)

Years

Entrances

Departures

Excesses

Losses

1925

25,800

18,300

7,500

1926

33,900

22,400

11,500

1927

41,500

21,200

20,300

1928

44,400

22,500

21,900

1929

50,500

24,200

26,300

1930

40,900

27,900

13,000

1931

28,300

34,500

6,200

1932

40,900

35,900

5,000

1933

21,600

30,300

8,700

1934

25,200

20,200

5,000

1935

20,900

18,400

2,500

1936

35,700

20,600

15,100

1937

51,400

17,800

33,600

1938

63,400

15,400

48,000

1939

40,200

13,400

26,800

1940

11,800

12,300

500

1941

5,400

9,700

4,300

1942

1,900

2,900

1,000

1943

3,096

4,578

1,482

1944

1,838

2,942

1,104

1945

859

837

22

1946

2,251

11,512

9,261

1947

32,489

1948

47,100

(1)

1949

1950

3,674

5,010

1,336

1951

2,153

2,946

793

1952

2,208

3,084

876

1953

1,494

1,716

222

The dashes replace missing figures. (1) La Documentation française, Notes et études documentaires, No 2035 (21 juin 1955) : “L’émigration chinoise dans le Sud-Est asiatique” : <<In 1948, it (the number of arrivals) officially represented an excess of 41,506 persons>>.

Source : Tsai (1968 : 40, table 2). Source referred to by Tsai : INSEE, Saigon.
(Original text in French language translated by author.)

  

Appendix B

Migration of the Chinese in Vietnam

Year

Entries

Departures

Difference

1923

47,017

27,186

19,831

1924

44,228

30,380

13,838

1925

39,656

24,463

15,193

1926

52,579

33,632

18,947

1927

58,202

27,088

31,114

1928

74,244

44,212

30,032

1929

80,720

51,412

29,340

1930

70,900

53,224

17,676

1931

57,784

62,388

- 5,604

1932

35,274

51,126

- 15,352

1933

36,188

44,537

- 8,401

1934

38,658

33,515

5,143

1935

43,888

28,143

15,745

1936

53,424

37,571

15,854

1937

70,731

35,926

34,805

1938

91,510

38,210

53,300

1939

132,530

92,830

39,700

1940

58,200

72,640

- 14,400

1941

11,980

16,220

- 4,240

1942

6,900

6,400

500

1947

36,320

26,659

9,961

1950

6,671

8,012

- 1,341

1951

4,244

5,025

- 781

Source : Luong (1963 : 55, table VIII)

Sources used by Luong : Annuaire Statistique de l’Indochine, vol. II, p. 67 ; vol. III, p. 57 ; and, vol. V, p. 54.

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Notes

1 One major study on the Chinese in Vietnam under the French has been published in the English language namely Marsot (1993). In the context of this study it is primarily “Part Two Socio-economic Aspects” that are of relevance. Given that Marsot has utilised a number of the original sources used in context of this study reference to Marsot will only be made to complement information in the original sources.

2 Although Vietnam was a part of the Chinese empire, the name Vietnam will be used while referring to the extreme southern part of this empire, a region that in modern time would cover approximately the northern part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

3 Luong’s (1963 : 36-50) analysis of the reasons for the imbalance in the number of Chinese settling down in different parts of Vietnam covers the period from the 18th century to the mid-20th century.

4 Corresponding to the dialects Cantonese, Teochiou, Hainanese (from the region of Haikéou on the island of Hainan) and Wouentch’ang (from the district of Wouentch’ang on the island of Hainan).

5 It should be noted that Tsai uses the French word congrégation as synonymous to bang.

6 The three documents are referred to as pièce by Verdeille, and were numbered as follows : No 170 from 1828, No 180 from 1832, and No 181 from 1838 (Verdeille 1933 : 8-25).

7 Vietnamese is here used as analog to Annamite.

8 Tsai notes that this was the only massacre of Chinese during the history of Chinese migration to Vietnam.

9 The figures for the following years are official ones or based on official sources : 1889, 1921, 1931, 1936, and 1943 to 1953 (Luong, 1963 : 41-42 ; Levasseur 1938 : 6 ; Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam 1951 : 23, 30 ; Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam 1952 : 28 ; Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam 1953 : 27 ; Annuaire statistique du Viêtnam 1955 : 27).

10 Cornu (1879 : 21) puts the figure at 44,453 in 1879 in reference to the Annuaire of 1879. Thus, he refutes a figure provided by the bureau de l’immigration that put the number of Chinese at 60,858.

11 Luong (1963 : 41) refers to a figure of 56,528 Chinese.

12 The figures given for the years 1949 to 1953 correspond to the number of Chinese as of 31st December of each of the given years.

13 Marsot (1993 :90-100) provides a wealth of different figures in particular for the period from 1908 and onwards some are quoted from the sources used in this study others are mainly quoted from a study by Robequain L’Indochine from 1952.

14 This figure is cited from Lafargue (1909 : 279). Hückel has provided more precise figures for parts of Cochinchina. The figures for the five Chinese congrégations in Saigon and Cholon are 34,189 and 37,973 respectively. However, for the rest of Cochinchina the figure provided by Hückel relates to all Asian foreigners (Hückel, 1908b : 580).

15 Figure from Lafargue (1909 : 287-288). No figure provided by Hückel.

16 The figure does not include 2,435 persons listed as métis by Hückel (1908a : 302). Lafargue (1909 : 286-287) provides a figure of 20,000 Chinese with no mention of métis.

17 Inclusive of approximately 40,000 Minh-Huong (Dubreuil 1910 : 101).

18 Inclusive of 2,000 métis (Dubreuil 1910 : 106).

19 This figure does not include 60,600 Minh-Huong (De Tessan 1922 : 396).

20 This figure does not include 62,000 Minh-Huong (Levasseur 1938 : 39, n. 2).

21 This figure does not include 11,000 Minh-Huong (Levasseur 1938 : 39, n. 2).

22 The figures are listed in Appendix A.

23 Luong (1963 : 55) also provides figures for 1947 when the surplus of arrivals was 9,961 and for 1950 and 1951 when the surplus of departures was 1,341 and 781 respectively. All Luong’s figures are listed in Appendix B.

24 Luong (1963 : 56-57) also notes that illegal infiltration of Chinese into Vietnam had always been considerable and in particular so for the period 1950-1954.

25 Cochinchina had the status of French colony whereas Annam and Tonkin had the status of French protectorate, except in regard to the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong in Tonkin and Tourane in Annam, which had the status of territories under direct French administration (Dubreuil 1910 : 65-66).

26 Marsot provides an overview of both the policies of the French authorities and of the economic role of the Chinese. In the current study less emphasis has been put on the economic role of the Chinese for a more detailed overview of this aspect see Marsot (1993 : 135-166).

27 Dubreuil (1910 : 22) claims that the arrêté of 18 March 1874 made the affiliation to a Chinese congrégation compulsory for all Chinese immigrants entering Cochinchina.

28 Dubreuil (1910 : 22) claims that the Bureau was established through the arrêté of 18 March 1874, whereas Lafargue (1909 : 47) claims that it was established through the arrêté of 24 November 1874.

29 The full text of the Treaty of Chongking has been reproduced in Chen (1969 : 360-374).

30 The texts of the Treaties of Nanjing of 1930 and 1935 as well as related documentation have been reproduced in Levasseur (1938 : 237-247).

31 Unger argues that the agreement in 1946 favoured the Chinese Government more than the Chinese in Vietnam. The latter still had to live under a heavy tax burden and the system of congrégations was in principle maintained although it was no longer effective, according to Unger (1985 : 9).

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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Ramses Amer, « French Policies towards the Chinese in Vietnam », Moussons, 16 | 2010, 57-80.

Référence électronique

Ramses Amer, « French Policies towards the Chinese in Vietnam », Moussons [En ligne], 16 | 2010, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2012, consulté le 24 novembre 2017. URL : http://moussons.revues.org/192 ; DOI : 10.4000/moussons.192

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Auteur

Ramses Amer

PhD and Associate Professor in Peace and Conflict Research, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University, Sweden, Guest Research Professor, National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Haikou, Hainan, China, and Research Associate, Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm, Sweden.

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