Tuesday, November 10, 2020


In 1882 a plackard was pasted all over Hanoi and several other cities in Vietnam. It effectively challenged the French to put their money where their arrogant mouths were.
It could have been written by an Englishman.
Except that it was in Chinese.

Proclamation by Liu Yongfu (劉永福 'lau wing fuk'), commander of the Black Flag Army:

雄威大將軍兼署三宣提督劉,為懸示決戰事,照你法匪,素稱巨寇,為國所恥。每到他國,假稱傳道,實則蠱惑村愚,淫欲縱橫。借名通商,實則陰謀土地。行則譬 如禽獸,心則竟似虎狼。自抵越南,陷城戕官,罪本將軍好生之德,留你蚊蟲。倘若遲疑不決,一旦兵臨 城下,寸草不留,禍福尤關難了發,佔關奪稅,惡不勝誅。以致民不聊生,國幾窮窘,神民共怒,天地難容。本將軍奉命討賊,三軍雲集,槍 炮如林,直討爾鬼祟,掃清醜類。第國家之大事,不忍以河內而作戰場,唯恐波及於商民,為此先行懸示。爾法匪既稱本領,率烏合之眾,與我虎旅之師在懷德府屬 曠野之地以作戰場,兩軍相對,以決雌雄。倘爾畏懼不來,即宜自斬爾等統轄之首遞來獻納,退還各處城池,本將軍好生之德,留你蚊蟲。倘若遲疑不決,一旦兵臨 城下,寸草不留,禍福尤關,死生在即,爾等熟思之。切切特示!

Freely translated:
"Supreme commander and tri-province governor Lau, in order to advance the decisive battle, announces that you, the French brigands universally known as rapacious thieves, are despicable among the nations. Whenever you go to other countries, you pretend to preach, but in reality you confuse simple peasants and people of low morals. Allegedly you come for trade, but you actually conspire to conquer the land. You are beasts, your hearts are those of tigers and wolves. Upon your arriving in Vietnam, you imprisoned officials and commited numerous crimes. As a result, people cannot survive, the country is impoverished and shamed, god and the populus are furious, and neither heaven nor earth can tolerate this any further. I was ordered to combat you brigands, and have gathered three armies; our guns and cannons are like a forest, ready to attack you in your evil lair and remove the stain. The welfare of the country is a great responsibility, and I cannot think of battling in Hanoi, lest it ruin the economy, hence this announcement: French bandits so vaunted for your prowess, lead your rabble to Phu Hoai, and fight our tiger legions in the wilderness; we'll see then who is mightier. If you are afraid, sever the heads of your chiefs and other commanders to offer them, return the cities you have seized, and mercy will be shown to you insects. But if you delay, once our forces come to those cities, nothing will remain to you, good fortune will vanish, life and death will be in the balance, and you will regret it severely. This is urgent!"

Unfortunately, neither the Chinese government nor the Vietnamese, though wholeheartedly behind general Lau, provided much support for actions against the French, and more or less sought to protect their asses and their assets. After three long years of war against the insects, Lau Wingfuk and his remaining loyal forces were forced to retreat back to China.
Lau was "rewarded" with a token appointment in Guangdong.

Lau Wingfuk lived eighty years, dying in 1917.
He is still lauded as a patriot.

留你蚊蟲 ('lau nei man-chong'): preserve you mosquitoes (and) maggots; spare your pestilential lives.
寸草不留 ('chuen chou pat lau'): not even an inch of grass will remain.
法匪 ('faat fei'): French bandits.

Listening to the marching song of the French Foreign Legion inevitably reminded me of this.

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