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The Territory of Kwang-Chou-Wan (French: Territoire de Kouang-Tchéou-Wan) is at present the last concession of the French Union in China. It consists of the French concession of Kwang-Chou-Wan obtained from China in 1898 for a 99 year lease. Part of the French Concessions in China until 1946. Also called the French Hong-Kong.
France wanted in Kouang-Tchéou-Wan a large commercial port, to compete and offset the British (Hong Kong) and Portuguese (Macau) influences in southern China. However from 1900 to 1910s the territory was an economical and social backwater and the great commercial expectations never came to fruition. The construction shipyards and docks never came or were delayed.
As a desperate move it was to open migration to anyone in China or Indochina willing to come and settle in 1920. This open door policy had some success in the following years as the population grew slowly, but steadily. It enable at least to have a branch of the Banque de l'Indochine and others, along some trading houses and shipping lines.
However the breakthrough came during the South Campaigns for National Unity (1927-1929) Second Sino-Japanese War an Great Pacific War (1937-1946) when Kwang-Chou-Wan received a large number of refugees and displaced persons. The International Refugee Organization established regional center and administered the displaced persons and refugee camps.
Due to the ease to settle most stayed, particularly a great number of businessmen escaping from the fall of the South Chinese Republic. Most of them become later the basis of the Chinese Hongs. This boom also enable a substantial migration of French and British expatriates that were recruited in the management, administration and as commercial agents of the Chinese Hongs and Vietnamese Tập đoàn.
The Vietnamese migration came mainly from recruitments made for the Government bureaucracy and the growing trade with Tonkin that enable the establishment of local Tập đoàn.
The refugees that settled were employed by the booming industries of the ZES, established in 1939. Boosting local production and economy, particularly after the War and becoming an essential condition for the rise of powerful industrial Hongs. It also enable the recruitment European expatriates for the with management of Hongs and Tập đoàn.
Kwang-Chou-Wan administerely depends of the Ministry of Overseas Territories (Ministère d'Outre-mer et Territoires, MOMT). The Governor-General is in charge of all the administration, assisted by a General Council. Its territory is divided in delegations, in charge of an Administrator appointed by the Governor General. Unlike Indochina or China the territorial bureaucracy had no previous ties to tradition and was created from scratch following the French model.
Fort-Bayard was designated as a commune in 1937, with an elected municipal council. The French, Chinese and Vietnamese habitats elected by separated electoral roll the councilors. The reform of 1940 established a General Territorial Council elected by the French citizens and resident Europeans, an Economic and Social Council integrated by representatives of the employers, employees and of various other interests and a Territorial Advisory Council elected by non French residents.
Kwang-Chou-Wan is considered an electoral district for the elections of the National Assembly. Only French citizens can vote for the presidential, legislative and local elections. Non French that resided in the concessions over four years can vote for delegates of the Territorial Advisory Council.
The main French political groups were the Communist Party (Parti communiste), Socialist Party (Parti socialiste), Social Republicans (Social républicains) and Republican Alliance. Pan-Chinese nationalism, tolerated at some degree by the authorities, was represented by the local branches of the KMT, Communist Party of China and Chinese Youth Party.
Non European political activity was legally allowed in 1936. Although, the former French and Chinese parties went by a radical reorganization that had begun before the full legalization of non European parties. These new parties were to open to all habitats regardless of ethnicity or became representatives of group interests.
The first new party was the Workers and Peasants Party (Parti ouvrier et paysan POP, 1934) a merger of Chinese and French communists and socialists. Followed by the main and fully multicultural party of the territory, the Party of Civic and Social Action (Parti d'action civique et sociale, PACS 1935) also an overseas affiliate of the social republicans. Other main parties created were: the Civil Rights and Welfare Party (Parti de droits civiques et aide sociale, PDCAS 1936) with its mutual aid network, based largely on the Chinese habitats and members of the dissolved KMT. And the Vietnamese residents and emigrants that formed the Mutual Interest League (Ligue du intérêt mutuel, LIM 1936) as a pressure group and political vehicle.
Local cash crops are rice, sweet potatoes, peanuts and sugarcane.
The main activities, before the mass emigrations, were the trade of tea, rice and textiles from mainland China. Important sources of state revenue where the customs duties, licensed opium trade, and the rent coming from state warehouses.
Kwang-Chou-Wan as several industries including shipping, coal mining, iron and steel mills and foundries. Besides being an important port of call for the French Navy and commercial lines. In 1939 a Special Economic Zone (zone économique spéciale, ZES) was established in order to promote economical and commercial development.
The Hongs and Tập đoàn, Chinese or Vietnamese industrial and financial business conglomerates, have significant influence in the economy and development of the Territory.
A section of the Yunnan–Vietnam Railway was built to link with Fort-Bayard in 1920-1925. The usual and most employed means of transport are sea ships that regularly serve the routes of Kwang-Chou-Wan to Haiphong, and Kwang-Chou-Wan to Hong-Kong.
French Forces and Public order
Fort-Bayard is a port of call for the French Navy Fleet of Indochina. There is also a regiment of French Foreign Legion, deployed for the defense Fort-Bayard. It also as a local garrison of Forces d'outre-mer françaises formed by conscripts from Indochina. It is organized in Troupes de marine (army) and Service aéronautique d'outre-mer (air force).
The Gendarmerie de d'outre-mer is responsible for public order. An auxiliary force, Garde Indigene, was created for Kwang-Chou-Wan. The Garde Indigene consisted of recruits from the French Indochina.
By the 1920s smuggling and illegal opium trade had become a endemic and a growing trouble for local French authorities. Has an answer to this criminal activity a Garde-Côtes des Douanes was created.