Franco-Thai War

Second Sino-Japanese War

East Asia 1941.0413

Franco-Thai War

Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan-China War, Rape of Nanking (13 April 1941)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

Thailand saw the French capitulation to Japan as weakness, seizing the opportunity to regain lost territories by invading French Indochina. The Japanese quickly put a stop to this war, but supported Thai claims at the ensuing peace treaty. With its focus now on the south, Japan signed a neutrality pact with the Soviet Union.


Treaty Ports

Treaty ports were towns opened to foreign trade by unequal treaties in China. Foreigners operating within treaty ports enjoyed extraterritoriality, being subject to their home country's laws. Unlike concessions such as Hong Kong, these territories were not directly leased by the foreign powers and did not have sizable foreign garrisons.

Treaty ports are not shown in the maps after the 1911 Chinese Revolution in order to give a clearer picture of the chaos in China itself and as by that point their numbers had stabilized. After the revolution, some of the smaller ports were phased out while the others became less important as the situation in China meant that only the concessions could provide foreigners with security. Most, however, still continued on into the 1940s when the Japanese entry into World War II and foreign agreements with China brought them to an end.

See this map for treaty ports in 1907, when the system was at its peak.

Yangtze River

By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), foreign vessels including warships had the right to free navigation on the Yangtze River. In practical terms, this right extended only as far as Yichang until 1900, when advances in steam navigation allowed access as far inland as Chongqing.

Main Events

Tripartite Pact

Joachim von Ribbentrop of Nazi Germany, Galeazzo Ciano of the Kingdom of Italy, and Saburō Kurusu of the Empire of Japan sign the Tripartite Pact in Berlin, capital of Germany. The 10 year Pact recognizes the right of Germany and Italy to establish a new order in Europe while Japan does so in Greater East Asia; it also compels the contracting Powers to come to the aid of any one of them that is attacked by a Power not presently involved in either World War II in Europe or the Sino-Japanese War.

British reopening of Burma Road

Following the Japanese occupation of northern French Indochina and the continuation of Japanese offensives in China, the United Kingdom ends its conditional three month closure of the Burma Road, allowing supplies to reach Nationalist China again.

Franco-Thai War

Following a number of border skirmishes along the disputed Mekong frontier, war erupts between the Kingdom of Thailand and Vichy-controlled French Indochina. While the superior Royal Thai Air Force bombs cities in Laos and Cambodia, the Thai army overruns French border defenses. The war is brought to an end by a Japanese mediated ceasefire, after which French Indochina is forced to cede most of the disputed territory to Thailand.

Franco-Thai armistice

Following a Japanese-sponsored "Conference for the Cessation of Hostilities", the Vichy government of France signs a ceasefire with the Kingdom of Thailand aboard the Japanese cruiser Natori. A formal peace treaty is signed in Tokyo on 9 May, whereby France agrees to cede Battambang, Pailin, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchay, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, and Xaignabouli to Thailand.

Soviet Union signs neutrality pact with Japan

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