I was reading the newspaper, The Truth (Sự Thật, 7/12/46), and found an article about “An Overseas Chinese Intellectual Who Died for the Independence of Vietnam.”
The masthead of this newspaper says that this newspaper was the Organ for Propagation and Mobilization of the Marxist Research Association of Indochina, and was published in Hanoi (and obviously modeled after Pravda).
The article is about Quách Văn Cự, an agricultural engineer from Bạc Liêu province (the article has “Bắc Liêu” but that must be a mistake), in the south of Vietnam, and “the child of a big wealthy Overseas Chinese family.”
Quách Văn Cự apparently joined the Việt Minh during World War II to fight the (Japanese) fascists. He then stood side-by-side with Vietnamese and resisted the French when they sought to retake Saigon after the end of the war.
In the end, however, he was killed by the enemy in December of 1945.
The article then ends by saying the following:
“Mr. Quách Văn Cự has passed away, but his spirit lives forever among the Overseas Chinese and the Vietnamese, two sibling nations [dân tộc anh em] that have lived side-by-side and have suffered disgrace together under the French and Japanese.
“Long live the spirit of Quách Văn Cự!
“Long live Sino-Vietnamese friendship!”
In reading through some of the newspapers that the National Library of Vietnam has digitized from this period, I have come across articles similar to this one which try to convince readers that Overseas Chinese support of Vietnamese independence.
My general sense is that whenever you see praise like this it is because someone is afraid that this is not what is actually happening, or someone is afraid that something other than this will happen.
I still do not have a clear sense of what was going on with the Overseas Chinese in Vietnam in 1945, but some people were obviously nervous that Overseas Chinese would not support Vietnamese independence.
When World War II ended, Nationalist Chinese soldiers occupied the northern half of the country in order to disarm the Japanese soldiers there. Perhaps it was this presence of Chinese soldiers that raised fears among some Vietnamese.
I’m not sure, but once the PRC was founded and started to support the Việt Minh, such fears appear to have disappeared in North Vietnam.
So were the Overseas Chinese ever a threat? Or was “the spirit of Quách Văn Cự” for real?