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In Session: Realms of Identities:Contesting the Boundaries of Race, Culture and Space in Colonial Vietnam (1890-1954)
2: Unheeded Warnings: Japanese Imperial Designs and French Colonial Disregard of Vietnamese Concerns about the Paracel Islands, 1930-1938
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Hoa Tran Thi Phuong
Institute of History (Vietnam), Vietnam
In the 1930's, the French colonial administration in Indochina considered its territory inviolable and also paid little attention, despite Japan's actions in China, to the security of the Paracel Islands. Before then, in the 1860's and 1890's, scholars Nguyen Truong To and Nguyen Lo Trach attempted to fulfill their Confucian and and Vietnamese duties by proposing reforms to defend Vietnam's sovereignty over what they perceived to be their imperial territory. Forty years later Huynh Thuc Khang, a scholar, journalist, and Chairman of the Annam Chamber of representatives, recalled Nguyen Lo Trach's warnings about the need for strength in international relations and in ensuring the security of Vietnamese space and took it upon himself to warn the French colonial administration about potential Japanese encroachment in the Paracel Islands. Khang's clearly stated apprehensions about Japanese activities in Manchuria and on the island of Hainan found a voice in the Vietnamese press. An examination of two newspapers published in Annam, Tieng Dan and Trang An, reveals the concerns of Vietnamese scholars and journalists as numerous articles were published urging the French colonial administration to enhance security in the South China sea. In addition to the unheeded warnings of Vietnamese scholars and journalists, this study also highlights the journalists' comparative analyses of Vietnamese imperial dynasties' notions of international diplomacy, space, and sovereignty with those of France's metropolitan and colonial administrations.