Political map of East Asia and the Western Pacific 06 May 1954 (First Indochina War): In Indochina, France had been struggling with Vietnamese communist-nationalists (First Indochina War), the Viet Minh, since 1946. When the Viet Minh invaded Laos in 1953, the French tried to cut their supply lines by setting up a base at Dien Bien Phu. But the French had underestimated their opponents, instead suffering a humiliating defeat (Battle of Dien Bien Phu) which forced them to abandon the war.