A history lesson about a critical period in Ho Chi Minh’s earlier life, by Tom Vaizey published January 16, 2020 by History Today. Feature photo caption: Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh) in 1921.

When, in 1931, the Vietnamese revolutionary Nguyen Ai Quoc was discovered to be hiding in Hong Kong, the French authorities requested the British extradite him to Indochina where a death sentence awaited.

The spark igniting the civil unrest in Hong Kong which has been going on for the last seven months was the introduction of an extradition bill, felt by many people to be a threat to the rule of law in the Territory. Some protestors in early demonstrations waved the Union Jack flag, not, one speculates, to indicate a desire for a return of colonialism, but as a symbol of a time when, despite a democratic deficit, they believed that civil rights were respected.

This brings to mind an extradition cause célèbre in the then British Crown Colony which took place between 1931 and 1933. The wishes of the executive of the day were thwarted by legal process, instigated by a Hong Kong-based English lawyer, Francis Loseby, on behalf of his Vietnamese client, Nguyen Ai Quoc (‘Nguyen the Patriot’). The client used several aliases throughout his life. He was known in the legal proceedings by the Chinese name of Sung Man Cho. He is known to posterity by his final alias, Ho Chi Minh (‘He Who Enlightens’).

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