Vietnam-Champa Relations and the Malay-Islam Regional Network in the 17th-19th Centuries
By Danny Wong Tze Ken, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Malaya
Published in Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, March 2004
Historical relations between Vietnam and the kingdom of Champa was a very long- standing affair characterized by the gradual rise of the Vietnamese and the decline of the Chams. The relationship began as early as the second century CE, when the Chams started a kingdom called Lin-yi, covering the area between the land of the Viet people in the north and Nanchao in the south. The historical consciousness of both peoples includes wars and conflicts between the two over a period of fifteen centuries before the kingdom of Champa was incorporated under Vietnamese rule in 1693. Thereafter, the lands of the Chams were settled by Vietnamese through a series of land settlement programs introduced by the Vietnamese ruling houses.
Subjugation of the former land of Champa was incomplete, however, as Cham resistance – often armed – became the central theme of the relationship after 1693. Resistance was based on the desire to be free of Vietnamese rule and to reinstate the kingdom of Champa. Contributing to this desire was the friction that existed between Vietnamese and Chams, often at the expense of Cham rights and well being. It was not until 1835 that Cham resistance was finally broken.
This essay traces the history of Vietnam-Champa relations between 1693 and 1835, with emphasis on the Vietnamization process and the existence of a Malay-Islam regional network in Southeast Asia, based mainly in the Malay Peninsula, that contributed to Cham resistance. The last part of the essay discusses the correlation between historical and present-day Cham-Malay relations.