Thus it is claimed that the former French colony of Cochin-China consists of territories belong to Cambodia. Evidence to that effect is not lacking. From an archaeological point of view, the existence of towers, bronze stone statues, inscriptions, religious edifices, brick shrines, steles, etc., proves beyond all question the presence of Cambodians in those parts. In addition to such archaeological evidence, the old maps of Indo-China (those compiled in 1593 and 1638, the map drawn by Father De Rhodes in 1650, Robert’s map of Indo-China dating from 1717, Durville’s map of Indo-China published in 1755, etc.), as well as various documents written either in the Khmer or the Annamite languages or in French, confirm Cambodia’s sovereignty over the Cochin-China territories. (See plate No. 1). With reference to demography and ethnography, the population of Cochin-China include over half a million active, courageous patriotic Khmers with the same traditions, customs, and way of life as their brothers in Cambodia, and speaking the same language. As for religion is concerned, the typically Khmer character of Cochin-China is apparent form the existence of several hundreds of Cambodian pagodas and numerous Pali schools, which in 1940 were distributed as follows:
|Province||Number of Pagodas||Number of Pali Schools|
The pagodas are at the same time repositories of Cambodia civilization, and spiritual and cultural centres where local Khmer observe the same form of Buddhism as that prevailing in Cambodia (see plate No. 2). As regards the legal aspects of the question, Cambodia’s sovereign rights over Cochin-China are still valid: Was there an occupation in the legal sense? The Annamite (Vietnamese) settlement cannot be so described since the area involved was not unclaimed land, but Cambodian territory, as has already been shown. Neither was there any acquisition by subjugation, for the Khmer State legitimate sovereign of those territories, never ceased to exist. Neither were the Annamites awarded the Cochin-China territories by a supranational decision, as no community of States (Conference, League of Nations, UNO) or international legal body ever took such action. Nor could prescription be invoked: indeed, a case based on such grounds would be absolutely worthless, considering that at all times Khmer monarchs have intimated, either by filing claims or by military action, their determination not to give up the territories occupied by the Annamites. In the year 1738, King Ang So took up arms against the Annamites in an attempt to expel them from Hatien. In 1776, King Ang Nuon taking advantage of a Cambodian uprising in Lower Cochin-China the same of the Tay Son revolt, seized Long-Ho (Vinglong) and Mesar (Mytho). In 1859, the same monarch ordered his troops to march on Meat Chrouk (Chaudoc). The fighting was still going on when the French landed in Cochin-China. As regards claims, they were frequently reiterated: King Ang To in 1645 and King Ang Chan in 1653 asserted the Khmer territorial rights. Besides the King Ang Duong who called for French intervention mainly with a view to regaining his Cochin-China provinces, King Norodom – on the occasion of his visit to Saigon in October, 1864 (one year after the conclusion of the treaty establishing the French Protectorate over Cambodia) – also urged the French authorities to ensure that the Cochin-China provinces were returned to Cambodia. Under the Japanese occupation, His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, faced with Vietnam’s intention to achieve unification by integrating Cochin-China into her territory, expressed definite reservations in his Declaration of 25th June, 1945, regarding Cambodia’s rights over Cochin-China, and suggested the setting up of a Joint Commission for the delimitation of the Khmer Vietnamese border. The Nam Bo Government (Ho Chi Minh’s Government) accepted in 1945 the principle of adjusting the frontier in favour of Cambodia. When France began to consider acceding to the demands of H.M. Bao Dai’s Government for the fusion of the three Ky (Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin-China) into a single State, H. M. Norodom Sihanouk, in a letter dated 20th January, 1948, urged the French High Commissioner in Indo-China to keep him informed of the pending negotiations between France and Vietnam. However, France, disregarding Cambodia’s concern in the matter, singed with H. M. Bao Dai the Along Bay Agreements of 1948 recognizing the principle of the union of the three Ky. On 18th June, 1948, H. M. Norodom Sihanouk protested by letter, and in 1949 he sent a Cambodian delegation to Paris to attend the debate in the French Parliament on the bill dealing with Cochin-China’s new status and accession to Viet-Nam, and to formulate protests against the integration of a Cambodian territory (Cochin-China) into Vietnam. Despite earnest representations by Cambodia, France unilaterally decided by an internal law of 4th June, 1949, to hand over to Vietnam the Cochin-China territories which she had acquired irregularly in the first place. When the Franco-Khmer Treaty was concluded on 8th November, 1949, H. M. the King of Cambodian expressly intimated that by signing the Treaty Cambodia did not relinquish in any way her claims on Cochin-China, and a reservation to that effect is included in the Treat itself. Those reservations were formally and explicitly renewed by the Cambodian delegations successively at the inter-State Conventions known as the Pau Conventions, at the Geneva Conference held in July, 1954, and at the conclusion of the Paris Agreement of 29th December, 1954. On the other hand, there was no regular transfer of the Cambodian territories in Cochin-China. No treaty or convention specifies such a transfer. NO comparison before can be drawn between Cochin-China (South Viet-Nam) and Louisiana which was made over to the United States by France 1803, or Alaska – sold by Russia to the United States in 1867 – or the Caroline Islands – transferred by Spain to Germany in 1899. Nor has there been by constitution of a military occupation, since Annam has waged no war of conquest against Cambodia, and taken up arms only when asked to do so by a Cambodian prince, either against another pretender to the throne or against the Siamese at the request of the rebels. Lastly, contrary to certain contentions, there has been no frontier delineation, finally marking off the Cambodian territories occupied by Annam. The decision taken on 9th July, 1870 and the arrangement concluded on 17th July, 1873, defining the frontier between Cochin-China and Cambodia were unilateral actions by France, which at that time directly assumed the administration of both Cohin-China as a colony, and Cambodia as a Protectorate. Those were administrative measures taken by a single Power in a readily understandable desire to increase its colonial empire. Cambodia, after asking the French Government for protection and entrusting it with the care of her external sovereignty, was in no position to protest against such a definition.