Find Your Best Tours

Phu Quoc island

Phu Quoc island, also known as Koh Tral in Cambodia, is the largest island in Vietnam. Phu Quoc and nearby islands, along with distant Tho Chu Islands, is part of Kien Giang Province as Phu Quoc District, the district has a total area of 574 square kilometres and a permanent population of approximately 85,000. The district of Phu Quoc includes the island proper and 21 smaller islets. The district seat, Duong Dong, is located on the west coast, and is also the largest town on the island. The economy is centered around fishing, agriculture and a fast-growing tourism sector; Phu Quoc being one of the most popular tourist destinations of Vietnam.

An 1856 record mentions the island: "... King Ang Duong (of Cambodia) apprise Mr. de Montigny, French envoy in visit to Bangkok, through the intermediary of Bishop Miche, his intention to yield Phu Quoc to France. Such a proposition aimed to create a military alliance with France to avoid the threat of Vietnam on Camb odia. The proposal did not receive an answer from the French.

While the war between Vietnam, France, and Spain was about to begin, An Duong sent another letter to Napoleon III to warn him on Cambodian claims on the lower Cochinchina region: the Cambodian king listed provinces and islands, including Phu Quoc, under Vietnamese occupation for several years or decades (in the case of Saigon, some 200 years according to this letter). Ang Duong asked the French emperor to not annex any part of these territories because, as he wrote, despite this relatively long Vietnamese occupation, they remained Cambodian lands. In 1867, Phu Quoc's Vietnamese authorities pledged allegiance to French troops just conquering Ha Tien.

After Cambodia gained independence from France, sovereignty disputes over the island were raised since there was no colonial decision on the island's fate. Dating back to 1939, the Governor-general of French Indochina, Jules Brévié had drawn a line to delimit the administrative boundaries for islands in the Gulf of Thailand: those north of the line were placed under the Cambodian protectorate; those south of the line were managed by the colony of Cochinchina. Brevie made the point that the decision merely addressed police and administrative task, and that no sovereignty decision had been made. As a result, Phu Quoc remains under Cochinchina administration.

Phu Quoc has been a sleepy historical backwater for most of its history. However, in the Twentieth Century, it was involved in a series of high-profile events.

After Mainland China fell under the control of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, General Huang Chieh moved 33,000+ Republic of China Army soldiers mostly from Hunan Province to Vietnam and they were stationed at Phu Quoc. Later, the army moved to Taiwan in June 1953.[7] There is currently a small island in Kaohsiung, Taiwan's Chengcing Lake that was constructed in November 1955 and named Phu Quoc Island in memory of the Nationalist Chinese loyal soldiers who was detained from 1949-1953.

In 1967, during the period when Cambodia was under Sangkum control, the country's ruler, Norodom Sihanouk, aimed to make the border internationally recognized; in particular, in 1967, the North Vietnamese government recognize theses borders. As written in an article from Kambudja magazine in 1968 (and quoted in the Sihanouk website), entitled "border questions", this border definition recognize that Phu Quoc island is in Vietnamese territory, even if Cambodian claims were made later.

On May 1, 1975, a squad of Khmer Rouge soldiers raided and took Phu Quoc Island, but Vietnam soon recaptured it. This was to be the first of a series of incursions and counter-incursions that would escalate to the Cambodian – Vietnamese War in 1979.

Related Articles