Franco-Chinese War

From Academic Kids

Military History of France
Military History of China
ConflictSino-French War
PlaceSouth-east China & Northern Vietnam
ResultFrench sovereignty over Tongking and Annam is assured
France China
50,000 Soldiers 3 Million Soldiers
2,100 Killed
or Wounded
10,000 Killed
or Wounded

The Franco-Chinese War lasted from September 1881 to June 1885. Its underlying cause was the French desire for control of the Red River, linking Hanoi to the resource-wealthy Yunnan province in China.

Although the 1874 Treaty of Saigon opened the river to navigation, harassment by the Black Flag bandit group in the early 1880s impeded French traders. Consequently, the French government dispatched a small expeditionary force to clear the Red River valley from the Black Flags. The Qing court viewed a European army in Tonkin as a threat to its security and began to prepare for war.

Hanoi was seized by French forces under Captain Henri Rivire on April 25, 1882. Rivire was killed while clearing Black Flags from the Red River delta in the spring of 1883.

On August 25 1883 the Hu treaty, ceding Tonkin to France as a protectorate, was signed between the Emperor of Annam and France. China rejected this treaty and moved forces into Tonkin province. Although neither China nor France declared war on the other, combat operations began in the autumn of 1883. French riverine forces seized the citadels of Bac Ninh, Son Tay and Tuyen Quang.

In the 11 May and 9 June, 1884 Treaties of Tien Tsin, China acknowledged the Hu treaty but the same month attacked, in the hamlet of Bac Le, a French column sent to occupy the country in accordance with this treaty. This resulted in the expansion of the war, as France blockaded the Keelung and Tamsui harbors of Taiwan and conducted an amphibious operation against Qing forces on the island. In August 1884, during the Battle of Foochow, the navy recently built by China was utterly destroyed while at anchor by the forces of France in a brief battle lasting a little over thirty minutes. In Tonkin, however, the monsoon season precluded offensive operations by the French, allowing the Chinese to advance to the edge of the Red River delta. During this operation, the Chinese laid siege to the fortress of Tuyen Quang, leading to its celebrated defense by a battallion of the French Foreign Legion. A French expeditionary force marched into Upper Tonkin and captured Lang Son in February 1885. Following an unsuccessful attack across the Chinese border at Bang Bo, Lang Son was hastily abandoned by the French on March 28, 1885, which brought about the fall of the Jules Ferry government in France.

Despite the retreat, the success of the operations and France's victories at sea forced China to concede defeat. The treaty ending the war was signed on June 9, 1885, as China acknolwedged the Treaty of Hu and gave up its sovereignty over Annam and Tonkin.

These territories were later included in French Indochina.

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