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HIST 218 - Chapter Six: Vietnam and China

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McGill University
HIST 218
Gavin Walker

Vietnam and China: Internal Crises and Western Intrusion In 1800, both countries were fighting uprisings—White Lotus Rebellion in China; Tay Son Uprising in Vietnam—that were fueled by widespread discontent of impoverished peasants, alienated by government corruption yet drawn to a vision of a better world by the divine. I: Vietnam Historical Background: The Later Le Dynasty (1428-1788) − founded by Le Loi, putting end to 13 years of Ming rule − continued policy of looking to China for institutional models − greatest success in fifteenth century under Le Thanh Tong, who reformed and strengthened ministries and bureaucracies, weakening landed aristocracy − new legal code fusing Confucian and Vietnamese traditions − Neo-Confucianism established as state orthodoxy − new Mac dynasty (1527-1592) defeated by Le with help of Trinh military leaders − Beijing recognized Le, controlled by Trinh and legitimate sovereign, but de facto Vietnam was split into two, with Nguyen family controlling central Vietnam − hemmed in by sea and mountains to the East and West, and Le further hemmed in by China to the north and Nguyen to the south − Nguyen thus expanded to their south, taking lands at expense of Cambodia − at the same time, the Nguyen became influenced by customs and beliefs of local cultures − Nguyens developed differences in cuisine, dress, lifestyle and art from the north − adopted Chinese institutions, but only in the eighteenth century, and then only slowly − east-west and north-south divisions were significant Tay Son Uprising (1771-1802) − people under both Trinh and Nguyen suffered from misgovernment, corruption, and privatization of communal land − began in titular village, led by three brothers and fortified by signs of supernatural support − attracted people in hills and lowlands, as well as merchants and one Cham princess − emphasized military affairs, encouraged commerce and education, restored communal lands − however, did not solve problem of corruption, and failed to develop original ideology or compelling program − put an end to Trinh − Le petitioned Qing to intervene; however, Chinese troops suffered disastrous defeat − eventually defeated by Nguyen An − harbinger of future French military involvement: two ships by Pigneau de Behaine Nguyen as Rulers of All Vietnam (1802-1867) − Nguyen An became Emperor Gia Long (1802-1820) and ruled unified empire with capital at Hue − Tonkin in the north, narrow central region with Hue, south dominated by Saigon and Mekong Delta − his successor, Minh Mang (1820-1841) attempted to copy Chinese institutions, including copying its legal code − problems integrating with the south − administered Cambodia as a province from 1834-1841; however, Cambodia revolted, only to be dominated by Siam (Thailand) from 1841-1845 − Cambodia then declared vassalage to both Hue and Bangkok, but lost control to France in 1863 Scholarship and Literature − north remained centre of serious Confucian scholarship − had reputation for puritanism − however, different ethos flourished elsewhere, as evidenced by Ho Xuan Huong − poetry remained heart of Vietnamese literature Loss of Independence − due to diversity of new Vietnam, keeping it together required more effort—political, cultural, economic, and military—than was within the capability of the dynasty − failed to win strong backing in either of the rich territories in the north or south − dynasty manoeuvred into deadly crossfire, with hostile subjects on one hand and French imperialists at the other − although Christianity outlawed by both Trinh and Nguyen, missionaries were tolerated, especially by Nguyen, who were eager for trade − Minh Mang issued increasingly severe proclamations against missionaries − relations declined under next three emperors until French-Spanish invasion in 1858 − Treaty of Saigon (1862): Vietnam lifted restrictions on religion and trade, gave France a major voice in conduct of foreign policy, and ceded Saigon and three neighbouring provinces − France added another three in 1867 to form 'Cochinchine' − under Third Republic, French sought compensation for lost territory and national pride in Franco-Prussian War with imperial conquest overseas − 1873, French merchant-adventurer seized part of Hanoi − Treaty of 1874, French withdrew, but Red River opened to foreign trade, Vietnam recognized Cochinchine as French colony, and promised to follow France in foreign policy − south lost, north precarious − France determined to not allow other powers to dominate north; seized Hanoi in 1882 − Nguyen court asked help from Qing, but they lost Sino-French war − Treaty in 1883: Tonkin in north and Annam in central Vietnam became French protectorates − addition of Laos in 1887 completed French Indochina II: China − eighteenth century China faced problems “that would have taxed the ingenuity and energy of even an honest and effective government” − population pressures were being felt − life became brutish and hard − inequality left many landless and destitute − worsened by government neglect of public works − Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) tried to cut costs and sold official posts, but was unable to solve underlying fiscal and economic problems − “internal pressures were building, but external crisis preceded internal eruption” Opium War (1839-1841) and its Causes − incompatibility of Chinese and Western views of themselves and the world − both extremely self-confident and proud of their own civilizations − Macartney turned down in 1793 − Lord Amherst turned down in 1816 − in contrast to Chinese self-sufficiency and Qianlong's disdain for foreign products, Chinese tea was in great demand in Britain − East India Company required to keep a year's supply in stock at all times − one-tenth of British government revenue came from tax on Chinese tea − problem: how to pay for tea? − China did not want British products − until last third of eighteenth century, British imports covered 10 per cent or less of cost of exports, with rest paid in cash and precious metals − until 1823, largest commodity imported to China from India was cotton; after, it became opium − opium long used for medicinal purposes, but smoking began in seventeenth century − imperial edict of prohibition in 1729; unsuccessful to suppress use of drug − protected by corrupt officials − drug was debilitating and habit forming; withdrawal extremely painful − within India, consumption of opium were strictly prohibited − opium so successful, balance of trade was reversed, to the point of destabilizing Qing monetary system − in 1834, East India Company's monopoly on opium was abolished, resulting in even more opium entering China − Emperor chose suppression of opium in 1836, creating massive drop in price of opium − Lin Zexu (1785-1850) conducted highly successful campaign against Chinese dealers and consumers, as well as punishing corrupt officials − in England, companies interested in Chinese trade exerted great pressure on government for military action − source of tension: British demand for extraterritoriality − Summer 1839, English sailors kill Chinese villager; British refused to turn men to Lin Zexu; men returned to England, where they were freed − November 1839; Britain fires on one of only two ships who had agreed to sign agreements with Chinese; Chinese intervened but lost − December 1839; trade with British stopped − January 31, 1840: war declared by governor-general of India − january 1841: resulted in cession of Hong Kong, payment of indemnity, equality of diplomatic relations, and reopening of Canton − however, both governments were displeased, China believing that too much was conceded, England believing that not enough was received − in renewed fighting, British besieged Canton in February 1841; lifted on payment of ransom of 6 million Spanish silver dollars − Br
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