Communism came to Vietnam by way of China in December 1924 when an international communist agent known as Lee Suei was sent by the Comintern to work as “secretary, translator, and interpreter” in Michail Borodin’s mission to help the Chinese Kuomintang in Canton. To cover his traces, Lee, or the future Ho Chi Minh, introduced himself to the Vietnamese revolutionaries in Canton as a Vietnamese-speaking Chinese by the name of Vuong Son Nhi, otherwise known as “Old Wang” (Wang Daren), who was only interested in helping the Vietnamese organize themselves.
Lee managed to take over the organization and turn it into the “Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth Organization,” briefly known as the Thanh Nien. Around the same time (1925), a home-grown party with communist sympathies later known as the Tan Viet (“New Vietnam”) was also formed in Central Vietnam.
In May 1929, when an attempt was made to unify the movement, a majority faction of the Thanh Nien dissociated itself from the Canton group and formed the breakaway “Indochinese Communist Party,” Dong Duong Cong San Dang, to compete for Moscow’s favors. The remaining Thanh Nien elements formed the An Nam Cong San Dang, “Annamese Communist Party.” Concerned with this division, the Comintern ordered a unification conference with Lee presiding which met in January 1930 in a Hong Kong soccer stadium, But could only agree on the creation of a “Vietnam Communist Party,” Viet Nam Cong San Dang (3 February 1930).
As this nationalistic approach was against Moscow’s wishes, another meeting was called, which forced the renaming of the party to Dang Cong San Dong Duong, “Indochinese Communist Party.”
Leftist Adventurism Days
On 9-10 February 1930, the non-communist Vietnam Nationalist Party (VNP) launched the Yen Bay mutiny which failed but had immense repercussions throughout the land and even abroad (the Soviet press reported on it extensively).
Taking advantage of the savage French repression of the VNP, the Communists thought that the time had come for them to launch an armed rebellion, which came in August 1930 and later came to be labeled the Nghe Tinh Soviet movement (29 August to 11-12 September). The French brutally put down this rebellion, killing tens of thousands of unarmed peasants, just as they did 10 years later when the Communists engineered another abortive rebellion in the South, known as the Nam Ky Khoi Nghia (23 November 1940).
Disappearing Act (1931-1940)
Luck played a great role in Ho Chi Minh’s life. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Vinh as a result of the Nghe Tinh disturbances. In June 1931 he was arrested in Hong Kong, but the British refused to hand him over to the French. The Comintern retained a lawyer, Frank Loseby, who fought successfully against extradition. Ho disappeared and was widely thought to be dead or purged by Stalin. Actually, back in the Soviet Union, he came under the protection of his handler, Vera Vasilieva, attended the Seventh Comintern Congress (July-August 1935) under the assumed name of Lin and as the husband of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai.