Grate-Power Contest in Southest Asia
The recent grant of limited sovereignty within the French Union to the three political units of the former colony of In do-China—the State of Viet Nam and the Kingdoms of Laos and of Cambodia—constituted one more in a significant series of postwar concessions by colonial powers to native aspirations for independence. Chief significance in this case, however, lay in the fact that the action had the effect of lifting the curtain on a new great-power struggle in a region of vast strategic and economic importance.
Alteration of Indo-China's political status, following hard on the Communist triumph in China, brought that territory into focus as the central point of developing international rivalries in Southeast Asia. A contest is now clearly shaping up between, on the one hand, forces which will strive to extend Communist and Soviet power to the rich areas south of China and, on the other hand, forces which will strive to protect those areas now just emerging from colonial dependence against the “armed imperialism” of those who would reverse their progress toward freedom.
Lining-Up of Opposing Sides in Indo-China Struggle
Ratification in Paris of the accords formalizing the political changes in Indo-China gave the signal for diplomatic alignment of the nations on opposing sides of this new front in the cold war. Laos and Cambodia, the less populous and economically poorer sections of Indo-China, have been tranquil. But in Viet Nam, the long coastal strip stretching from the borders of China to the southern tip of the peninsula, a Communist regime led by the Moscow-trained Ho Chi Minh has been engaged in civil war with the French and the French-sponsored government headed by the former Emperor Bao Dai of Annam. This internal struggle provided opportunity for a clear-cut demonstration of where foreign sympathies and interests lay.