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Why did the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) repeatedly refuse to unify with North Vietnam? Was this against the wishes of the South Vietnamese?

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RVN did not refuse to reunify with DRV.

In Geneva conference, EdV, the pre-state of RVN refused any VN separation: “ On May 12, the State of Vietnam rejected any partition of the country, and the U.S. expressed a similar position the next day ” ( 1954 Geneva Conference - Wikipedia )

This 1965 propaganda pane said “ whole the people reunify to protect the southern and to liberate the northern


In 1966 stamp design contest, two winner ones (did not issued) had the text said “ whole the people reunify, prepare for the northern attack


RVN just refused to an unification in which the VCP lead.

Unfortunately, this was really against the will of the majority of SVNese people.

In 1956, the former POTUS Eisenhower, with his huge CIA machine, estimated about 80% of VNese people supported HCM ( Eisenhower's Views on the Popularity of Ho Chi Minh ) - supported the reunification under the rule of VCP. Seeing the population equivalent between NVN and SVN back then, this number of 80% of VNese people equivalents to at least 60% of SVNese people. A net majority.

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My understanding was that all Vietnamese had an aspiration for a reunified Vietnam. But the State of Vietnam (the precursor to the Republic of Vietnam) government would have only agreed to elections if it thought it had a fair chance to win. During talks at the 1954 Geneva Conference, while all parties agreed to reunification elections, there was no agreement to how it would be conducted. Phạm Văn Đồng, prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) suggested elections be run by local commissions. Ngô Đình Diệm, prime minister of the State of Vietnam, supported reunification elections but only with effective international supervision. But his administration argued that genuinely free elections were impossible in the totalitarian North.

If the DRV had agreed to international supervision, would Diệm’s government continue with elections? I suspect they would find more ways to stack the deck in their favor, fearful that the communists would win the elections. Without context, it makes it seem like Diệm’s government was filled with power-hungry people who just wanted to win no matter what.

So why were they so fearful of a communist victory in the elections? I think the major factor was the land reforms that the DRV started in 1953. While it appears to be a way to start implementing the communist ideals of wealth distribution, it unfortunately was also a way to massacre innocent, honest people. By contemporary terms, one could say it was a genocide by class discrimination. More than 172,000 people died during the North Vietnam land reform campaign after being classified as landowners and wealthy farmers, official records of the time show. Former Hanoi government official Nguyễn Minh Cần, who was part of the campaign to change direction following the terror, said it amounted to “genocide.”

After the 1954 Geneva Accords split Vietnam along the 17th parallel, a mass migration occurred from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, the people being referred to as Bắc 54 . Between 920,000 to 1.1 million North Vietnamese would move to South Vietnam. My grandparents were among them.

So Diệm’s government feared that a communist victory would lead to additional bloody purges. Why did the communists commit bloody purges? I haven’t done a lot of reading into the matter, but I suspect the communists were worried about French loyalists that could undermine the security of their nascent government. Or perhaps there were revolutionary idealists who took Marx and Engel’s The Communist Manifesto to heart, and in regards to the old economic systems, “their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” Stain your hands with blood so that your children won’t have to. This might make for a good VietnamAnswer question.

Regardless, this refusal to hold elections would lead to a war between the two Vietnamese governments, the North believing the South would continue to be French puppets and get in the way of an independent Vietnam, and the South believing the North would continue their campaign of bloody purges.

Also following the division, some 5,000 to 10,000 communist cadres remained in the south and were given orders to continue political activity. They became known as the National Liberation Front (what Americans and anti-communist South Vietnamese would label Việt Cộng ). Part of their tactics included creating or infiltrating religious associations, such as the Vietnam-Cambodia Buddhist Association, with the aim of recruiting and building pro-DRV support. Later on in 1961, North Vietnam recognized the People's Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam, with many of their officers being from South Vietnam. So in a sense, we might recognize that these South Vietnamese also wanted reunification, though by armed means.


50 Years On, Vietnamese Remember Land Reform Terror

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Why did Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) had repeatedly refuse to reunify with the North Vietnam? Was this against the wishes of South Vietnamese?

I read about this claim A LOT but found no evidence. Does anybody have the source for this claim? If not, put it to rest as it offered nothing of value other than a regurgitation of the Communist propaganda.

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Because South Vietnamese were more Khmer than Vietnamese

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I find the logic of religious repression under the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem a bit hard to swallow. He was Catholic, the elites of the time were mostly Catholics but as many stated, the majority of South Vietnamese were Buddhists. Obviously, as a rule of thumb, religion is a very sensitive matter, even more so in a country at war. So as we understand, he was afraid of losing control to the communists, why did he insist on agitating the populace over the most volatile issue ever created by humanity? But I digressed.

Back to the question at hand, I don’t think nor believe that the South refused attempts at reunification. After all, many of the leaders of the RVN were nationalists, not the “imperial lackeys” or “puppets” that they are portrayed to the posterity. You can be surprised or even enraged at my statement but let’s calm down a bit and think for a minute. The South Vietnamese are, obviously, Vietnamese. We share the same blood, same culture and the same knowledge of our surroundings. Can you reason logically that with those commonalities, somehow the South Vietnamese government and its citizens had less vision than their Northern counterpart in a united Vietnam? That the South Vietnamese were less patriotic than their Northern brothers? (Had they been otherwise, being less patriotic and being but a tool for foreign exploitation, would they be able to withstand the offensives of 1968 and 1972 when, in the former, it was intended that the South population would rise up in arms, not unlike the event of 1945, to facilitate a coup against the regime while the latter, with the massive invasion from the North, whose nearest attack but mere 100 km from the capital, which if allowed to follow the reasoning that the RVN government did not enjoy the popular support, there should have been many uprisings by the people as well thus supporting the offensives and ensuring the certain collapse of the regime in either 1968 or 1972 despite the nearly indefinite support of its Allies). Do patriotic South Koreans want to maintain this current situation with their Northern brethren? Why did the East and West Germanies reunite? Evidently, the manifest conclusions you can find are in the old textbooks and the many traditional holidays of the RVN. They celebrated the Trung sisters, Tran Hung Dao, the Hung kings together with many heroes of olds and their textbooks emphasize that the northern most frontier of Vietnam is Chi Lang Gate and Ban Gioc Fall while its southern most point is Ca Mau. Would any government with intent for division teach the future generations that knowledge? Also, it is in the name of said country that we can deduce their meaning. Why is it the Republic of Vietnam but not some other name like the Republic of South Vietnam or the Republic of Cochinchina? The name Vietnam was first used after the successful unification of this stretch of land, which neighbours Laos and Cambodia in the West, China in the North and the great swath of water in the East, by emperor Gia Long so future use of the same name would, therefore, constitute the same resolution and the will of its people. The similar case is confirmed on behalf of North Vietnam’s political entity.

Additionally, according to the Paris Acords of 1973, there was mention of universal suffrage to determine the fate of the RVN and its citizens. The result should have been uncertain whether reunification was favourable so there was an existential risk that the RVN government took and accepted that should be seen as an effort (however its quantity was) toward uniting the country. After all, as the other side claimed, there were many sympathizers in the South to the reunification cause.

What should be considered their vice was the lack of resources and good organization as well as a strong leadership and bloody minded determination to push for reunification attempts. Had they done so, the casualties of war would have been substantially more than what we suffered. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that things happened the way they did.

So, the issue or rather, the difference that was the reason for such tragedy was ideologies. They are as sentitive as religions and one can argue that they are one and the same. The belief that was held as idealistic by each side, coupled with fear and uncertainty made a strong concoction, which was potent enough to kill and maim, to divide and numb generations of Vietnamese while its long lasting effects are still felt to this day. Do we blame the losers of the war? Should we condemn the winners? The majority thought it was appropriate to do so while oblivious of the rift and self destructing consequences. It may feel good to snipe, to gloat, to ridicule but in the end, no one emerges victorious. After all, it takes considered efforts and good will to be the first to offer one’s hand.

Could Vietnam achieve unification through diplomacy after 1973? In retrospect, had we had open minded leaders and less distractions from the foreign powers, together with a direct communication line, it would still be a long process, albeit with less bloodshed. Perhaps a mutual economic zone somewhere in the middle of the DMZ. But then again, Paris would be in a bottle on my desk had I been given all the ifs.

P/s: For Vietnamese, this is an old song written during the war, from the South. I believe that you can learn a bit about how they felt about the unfortunate series of events which befell this nation and its people. Applicable for both sides.

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The question contains many false assumptions: that South Vietnam did not want to reunify, and that reunify with the North was the wishes of South Vietnamese.

It’s a pretty well known fact that the South Vietnamese government wanted to reunify Vietnam at some point, but under the South’s flag. So it actually wanted to reunify North Vietnam with South Vietnam.

Also, reunify with the North was not “the wishes of South Vietnamese,” especially in the later years. It was well known that the North’s economy sucked, and it was undemocratic, so not many people want that.

The situation was very much like South and North Korea.

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The US president Eisenhower had also recognize: 80% of the Vietnamese support Ho Chi Minh. That's why US and their henchmen in South Vietnam rejected elect and brutally suppressed everyone,who wanted election.That's why Vietnam war broke out.

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Question: Why did the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) had repeatedly refused to reunify with North Vietnam? Was this against the wishes of South Vietnamese?

Answer: Well, I think that there are many reasons to explain Why South Vietnam had repeatedly refused to reunify with North Vietnam through the free election stipulated in the Geneva 1954 about ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam and Indochina. However, in my answer, I shall only provide you other different views on this matter.


(The Vietnamese are working on their fields without worrying of being killed by the American bombs after many years of ending the Vietnam War)

Firstly , Before understanding Why the South Vietnam regime repeated to refuse to reunify with North Vietnam according to Geneva we must understand Why the South Vietnam regime was established and existed during the wars in Vietnam from 1949–1975.

Do you think that the South Vietnam regime was created to reunify with North Vietnam? I am not sure What happened in the dialogue between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the South Vietnam regime (“Republic of Vietnam) about holding a free election to reunify Vietnam according to the Geneva accord 1954. However, I see many signs to indicate that the South Vietnam regime would never agree with the free election and reunification Vietnam in a peaceful way - It relates much to the reason for establishing, the existent motivation and cause of ending the fate of the South Vietnam regime.

The purpose of establishing South Vietnam or its predecessor by the French colonists not to be reunified Vietnam at the will of the Vietnamese but to control Vietnam as the French slavery colony in Asia

Before 1949, the legitimate government of Vietnam was only the Democratic Republic of Vietnam led by Mr. Ho Chi Minh and in fact, France recognized this government according to the Franco-Vietnam Agreement of March 6th, 1946 (In this accord signed in 1946, the term “Republic of Vietnam mean the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’’) in Vietnam. However, France wanted to control Vietnam as their slavery country again but Mr. Ho’s government disagreed and led to the First Indochina War between Vietnam and France. Thus, to keep the interests and position of France in Vietnam, the French colonist decided to establish the predecessor of the South Vietnam regime - State of Vietnam to control Vietnam at their will. This is the main cause to explain Why its predecessor of the South Vietnam regime was born in 1949.


(Saigon/Ho Chi Minh in the French colonial period)

The existent motivation of the South Vietnam regime or its predecessor from 1949 to 1975 mainly was to serve the right and interests of the French colonists and then American imperialists in Vietnam and Indochina, not to reunify Vietnam.

In fact, from 1949 to 1954, the South Vietnam regime was fighting side by side with the French colonists to suppress the independence movement of Vietnam led by Mr. Ho’s government and joined the First Indochina War with the role of supporting the French colonists. If you were the Vietnamese patriot, you would support the government who supported the foreign invaders to fight against the independence of Vietnam?


Even after the Geneva conference in 1954, to 1975, the main purpose of its existence - the South Vietnam regime was to fight against North Vietnam led by the communist forces, not to reunify Vietnam through any means as possible as it could.


(the Vietnamese protested against the suppression of the South Vietnam regime)

The cause of the quick collapse of the South Vietnam regime only two years from the American retreat out of Vietnam in 1973.

The world order was changing around the 1970s when China made friends with America and being against the Soviet Union. Moreover, there were many signs of communism that had seemed to be prevented in Asia. America also established firmly its system of allies in Asia through the Asian NATO - SEATO . Also, America could not afford to defeat the resistance of the Vietnamese and win the Vietnam War. Thus, America decided to limit gradually its involvement in Vietnam from 1968, especially after formally retreat out of Vietnam in 1973. In 1974 and 1975, America cut down its aid to the South Vietnam regime and let it dying or surviving at the will of God. You see clearly here - The strategical interests to support the South Vietnam regime to fight against North Vietnam led by the communist forces was decreased year to year and the burden to aid it sharply increased. Since this serious imbalance, America decided to retreat out of Vietnam and limit gradually its burden to the Vietnam War. Some even said that America fled out of Vietnam in a panic and forget its responsibility of alliance to the South Vietnam regime.


(SEATO Summit)

Of course, American decreased its involvement and commitment in Vietnam are only one of the main reason to explain Why the South Vietnam regime collapsed quickly in 1975 without any help from America.

To sum up this point: The purpose of establishment, the existent motivation and the cause of the end of the South Vietnam regime or its predecessor - A state of Vietnam during the wars in Vietnam were not intended to reunify Vietnam in any means except for the interests and right of French colonists and American imperialists.

Secondly, France and America did not want Vietnam reunified led by a communist leaders - Mr. Ho

For France: if France wanted Vietnam reunited, they should have not require to divide Vietnam temporarily in 1954 according to the Geneva 1954. Some people said that North Vietnam accepted the temporary division of Vietnam in 1954 and led the two decades of wars and killings. However, we should know that North Vietnam or the Vietnamese were not enough powerful to require more favorable terms during the Geneva conference in 1954. North Vietnam accepted this division mainly because of the real matters relating to the strength between the Vietnamese and the French colonists in Indochina. Also, Vietnam could not afford to continuously fight against the French colonist without guns and ammunition from China and the Soviet Union. So, exactly, Vietnam was divided temporarily without any assurance to reunify in a peaceful way. France divided Vietnam and established the South Vietnam regime not to carry out the Geneva 1954, especially relating to the terms of holding a free election to reunify Vietnam


For America : If they wanted to reunify Vietnam, they should not take their effort to install a new leader of the South Vietnam regime - Mr. Ngo Dinh Diem and made a series of step to wash out the dirty past of the South Vietnam regime such as:

Forced France and the French puppet Leader of the South Vietnam regime to install Mr. Ngo Dinh Diem as primer minister.

Holding the fake referendum in 1955 and established the so-called Republic of Vietnam in South Vietnam.

Making and guiding a series of military coup against the leaders of the South Vietnam regime like in 1963 .

Arica only cared about its purpose - stopping communism spread over the region rather than the will of the Vietnamese.

Thirdly , All of the leaders of the South Vietnam regime did not want to reunify with North Vietnam according to the will of the Vietnamese and also the international law.

In name of the interests of the Vietnamese, all of the presidents of the South Vietnam regime feared the Vietnamese communist forces led by Mr. Ho might probably massacre the Vietnamese. However, they did not care about How the Vietnamese in the South Vietnam regime was massacred by America and the American allies such as South Korea. As far as I know, the South Vietnam regime or its leaders said nothing or took any steps such as investigating these cases to protect the Vietnamese before the brutal atrocities of America and South Korea.


(My Lai massacre committed by America and about 43 other massacres committed by South Korea during the Vietnam War)

Behind American, the South Vietnam regime did not fear the terrible wars would happen in Vietnam because at, the end, many of them would immigrate to America or other western countries without any doubt.

From my perspective, simply, the leaders of the South Vietnam regime feared that they would lose in a free election before the North Vietnam leaders - Mr. Ho Chi Minh, so, they refused to reunify with North Vietnam. Exactly, In the name of the will of the special Vietnamese group in South Vietnam, they took advantage of Vietnamese against North Vietnam led by the communist leader to protect and preserve their own individual right and interests.

According to the American source, 80% of the Vietnamese in South Vietnam would have voted for Mr. Ho - Leader of North Vietnam if a free election was held.


Some or many people, especially the leaders of the South Vietnam regime wanted to put their self-interests above the interests of the Vietnamese. It explains partly Why the South Vietnam regime was not supported popularly by the Vietnamese.

Fourthly, About your next question “ Was this against the wishes of South Vietnamese.

After reviewing the American documents above and also the real will of the Vietnamese after nearly 70 years of being slaves of the French colonists, most of them wanted Vietnam to have independence and reunification in all costs. It explains why the Vietnamese were willing to sacrifice their lives to fight and liberate their country for such a long time from 1945–1975.

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This question is loaded. Regardless, South Vietnam did NOT want to unify with North Vietnam simply because North Vietnam had a larger population and, thus, would have won the unification elections prescribed by the Geneva Accords.

Furthermore, at this time (late 50s to early 60s), the dictator of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, was a Catholic ruling a vast Buddhist majority. He continued repressive measures against his own people, such as banning village council elections (the poor would vote Communist) and banning the flying of the Buddhist flag (this led to the Buddhist Crisis and Ngo Dinh Diem’s eventual assassination by US-backed ARVN units.)

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After 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem has not enough confidence to organize an election: certainly he will lose Ho Chi Minh.

Let’s go back to 1954: who’s Ngo Dinh Diem? a Catholic guy, a former officer of feudal empire, a guy who spent most of the time in a foreign country. And what is Catholic? It is the religion of invader (French). What is the former empire (Nguyen)? They were selling our country to French. And, btw, what did he do when Vietnamese fight against French for their freedom?

Look to Ho Chi Minh: at this time, he is not really a Communist, so non-Communist people don’t have a serious problem with him (even after 1954, many Southern people still admire Ho Chi Minh). He is the person who read the Declaration of Independence - whatever you can claim, it is the only official Declaration we have, and it gave the name of Vietnam to the world (before, just Tonkin, Indochina, etc. and no Vietnam). He is a leader of a war against French army, in which the first time a colony won a big Western country.

Well, which candidate will you choose?

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