Indochina’s alcohol regime was shaped by two crucial inheritances. One was the institution of the tax farm, which allowed officials to raise revenue while consolidating a co-dependent relationship between the colonial state and ethnic Chinese enterprise. The resulting Chinese monopolies provided both a model and a target for French officials in the years to come as they created their new alcohol regime. Another inheritance was the Department of Customs and Monopolies. From the earliest days of the French presence, the Department played a central role in establishing and consolidating French control. It operated not just to actualize Indochina’s borders by implementing French customs laws, but also, by enforcing the alcohol monopoly, to actualize French rule in the lives of Indochina’s people. Much like the tax farms that preceded it, violence was a crucial part of enforcing the new alcohol regime and establishing a new French order.
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