Confucianism as a symbol of solidarity: cultural relations between the Republic of China and the Republic of Vietnam, 1955-1963
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Between 1955 and 1963 when Ngô Đình Diệm was President of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), President Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China (ROC) saw the opportunity to work together with the new state to create an East Asian cultural solidarity against their Communist rivals. The initial relationship between both countries faced its first challenge when President Diệm’s government introduced several anti-Chinese ordinances in order to assimilate the local Chinese population. The enforcement of these ordinances strained Sino-Vietnamese ties but once the relationship improved, both countries embarked on various educational and cultural exchanges that were centred on Confucius, Confucianism and the learning of Mandarin and East Asian culture. The ROC sent K’ung Te-ch’eng to offer sacrifices to Confucius, while the RVN promoted Mandarin and Chinese Studies. Both national leaders had strong personalities and they spoke at length on working together as an East Asian cultural bloc. This article traces the attempts by both leaders to promote cultural solidarity amidst the Cold War before President Diệm was killed in a coup in 1963.