OTHERS

dated May 8, 1950: The Indo-China scene

Increased military activity by both the French and the Viet Minh was causing great unease and urgency regarding impending events in Viet Nam (Indo-China). Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh Government, which had proclaimed earlier that 1950 would be the `year of liberation from French colonialism', had ordered general mobilisation. Viet Minh sympathisers in Saigon disclosed that young men from French and Bao Dai-controlled areas were hurrying to enlist in the Viet Minh. High-ranking officials in Bao Dai's Government whispered in Hanoi that some French officials were reluctant to give weapons to the Viet Namese. Apart from this French distrust, there has been hardly any enthusiastic response from youth to enlist in Bao Dai's army.

A correspondent, who had toured that area of North Viet Nam, said that Ho Chi Minh did not seem to be putting pressure on the people to adopt Communist ways. There had been no expropriation or nationalisation of land. Lands formerly owned by the French, taken over by the Viet Minh Government, had been distributed to landless peasants. There had been no interference in religion. Christian and Buddhist places of worship kept intact by the Viet Minh.

People in the Viet Minh zone also spoke with enthusiasm of the way in which illiteracy had been tackled by Ho Chi-minh's Government. After nearly 80 years of French rule, literacy in Viet Nam had been barely ten per cent. After 1945, the Viet Minh had crusaded against illiteracy with great success.