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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Indochinese War

The First Indochina War began as a rebellion by Vit Minh forces against the French colonial government. This collection mainly focuses on the end of the conflict in 1954. See also the Geneva Conference of 1954 and the Vietnam War. (Image: French Marine commandos off the Annam coast, 1950)

  • July 04, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and the CCP Central Committee, 'A Brief Report on the Meetings at Liuzhou'

    Zhou reports on his meeting in Liuzhou with Viet Minh General Vo Nguyen Giap and military advisor to the VWP Comrade Wei Guoqing. Both men made reports. Zhou then discussed issues at the Geneva Conference.

  • July 07, 1954

    Telegram, Li Kenong to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation at the Twenty-First Restricted Session

    Li reports on the 21st restricted session on Indochina. Li states China's position, which has been consistent, on the NNSC and joint commission. Li notes that the French now lean toward his side regarding Indochina. Li is asked to clarify a point by the French and Cambodian delegates, and the Laotian delegate makes a statement.

  • July 10, 1954

    Telegram, Li Kenong to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation at the Twenty-Second Restricted Session

    Li reports on the 22nd restricted session on Indochina. During the meeting, the American and Cambodian delegates state the necessity for defensive weapons in Cambodia and Laos. Li states that the issue of weapons should only be discussed based on certain principles: self-defense only, prohibition of foreign bases, and the countries’ relationship with France. After the Vietnamese and French delegates spoke, the Cambodian delegate made clear Cambodia’s intentions regarding weapons and defense.

  • July 13, 1954

    Minutes of Zhou Enlai’s Meeting with Jean Chauvel

    Chauvel presents Zhou with a draft agreement for a cease-fire in Indochina. Chauvel notes that the issue of armed forces limitation should be discussed by the entire conference, and that the draft has been handed out to all the delegations for suggested additions and corrections.

  • July 17, 1954

    From the Journal of Vyacheslav Molotov: Memorandum of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong

    Record of a conversation between Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai and North Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Van Dong. Topics included the situation in Indochina in light of the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, and the 1954 Geneva Conference (3 days shy of ending and deciding the political fate of Vietnam).

  • July 17, 1954

    Minutes, Zhou Enlai’s Conversation with Mendes-France (Exerpt)

    Mendes-France and Enlai discuss the Indochina issue during their first meeting together. Both men feel they are in agreement with each other regarding several points (establishing a cease-fire before discussing political issues, that no US military bases should be established in Indochina, elections in Cambodia and Laos, cooperation between France and Vietnam and between the two sides in Vietnam). They end on a positive note, both sure that their few differences of opinion will be worked out.

  • July 17, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Anthony Eden

    Eden assures Zhou that the US has no intention of establishing military bases in Indochina, and that although it has not been suggested that Cambodia and Laos join the Southeast Asian Pact, such an agreement would not threaten China. Zhou expresses concern over the pact, and suggests another model for peace in Indochina. The two debate over these issues.

  • July 18, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhang Wentian and Harold Caccia

    Caccia informs Zhang that Eden will not bring up the issue of the Indochina countries joining Southeast Asian if an agreement is reached at the conference. Zhang notes that both the French and Vietnamese feel they've made enough concessions regarding regrouping areas in Laos. Caccia mentions Vietnam's rejection of the proposed make-up of the NNSC, and Zhang and Caccia discuss the need for a definite election date in Vietnam.

  • July 18, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Laotian Foreign Minister Phoui Sananikone (Summary)

    Sananikone asks for Zhou's opinion on several problems/issues Laos faces regarding the armistice and unification in Laos. Sananikone also makes clear that Laos does not plan on joining the Southeast Asian Pact, saying there is no need to if the conference can reach an agreement.

  • July 19, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhang Wentian and Harold Caccia, First Meeting

    Zhang and Caccia discuss three points. First Caccia mentions the French are primarily concerned with Route 9, and makes suggestions for this. Secondly, Caccia notes the French do not see elections occurring for another couple of years. Finally, Caccia makes clear that if an agreement is reached at the conference, there is no need for the Indochina countries to join military alliances.

  • July 19, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhang Wentian and Harold Caccia, Second Meeting of 19 July

    Zhou meets with Eden to discuss five points: the demarcation line in Vietnam, elections, the international supervisory committee, withdrawal of foreign troops, and a guarantee that collective measures will be taken if a breech of an agreement is made.

  • July 19, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation at the Twenty-third Restricted Session

    Zhou reports on the 23rd restricted session on Indochina. The delegates of the conference hope to make an agreement on the 20th. Zhou notes that both the Chinese/Russian side and the other side have begun to make compromises, however Bao Dai's Vietnamese delegation refused to the division of Vietnam.

  • July 19, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai, Pierre Mendes-France, and Eden

    Zhou, Mendes-France, and Eden discuss regrouping areas and French troops in Laos. The three are close in their opinions, but there are still points of division. Mendes-France agrees to limit the number of French troops, but insists a specified time limit is unreasonable. Mendes-France also insists that some regrouping areas are needed in the south. This last point, the three agree to leave to military experts.

  • July 20, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding Zhou’s Meetings with Pierre Mendes-France and Eden, as well as Discussions Outside the Conference

    Zhou reports on his meeting with Medes-France and Eden. Though Zhou notes they have found a solution for the election date in Vietnam, the parties still must work out issues of regrouping areas and troop withdrawal.

  • July 20, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Cambodian Foreign Minister Tep Phan (Summary)

    Zhou Enlai and Tep Phan discuss the Vietnamese proposal for conflict resolution. The Cambodian side discusses issues on which they agree with the Vietnamese (that the Vietnamese will not be discriminated against in Cambodia, that there will be no combatant personnel in Cambodia, etc.) and issues on which they disagree (military issues, Viet Minh withdrawal timetable, etc.). Zhou expresses hope that these issues will be resolved in an upcoming meeting with the Vietnamese, and that he will do what he can to assist in the resolution.

  • March 21, 1955

    Letter from Humphrey Trevelyan to Zhou Enlai

  • December 14, 1965

    Cable from the Chinese Embassy in North Korea, 'Foreign Minister Pak's Discussion with Ambassador Jiao on Several Issues during the Banquet'

    Pak Seong-cheol briefs Ambassador Jiao Ruoyu on the Japan-South Korea treaty, the situations in Indonesia and Vietnam, and the power struggle inside of the Soviet Union.

  • 1992

    A Glorious Model of Proletarian Internationalism: Mao Zedong and Helping Vietnam Resist France

    Luo Guibo recounts China's involvement in the First Indochina War and its assistance to the Viet Minh.