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Tonkin (Tongking) Historical region of n Vietnam; the capital was Hanoi. It was ruled by the Chinese (111 bc–ad 939), later becoming independent. In 1801, it united with Annam. In 1883, it became part of the French Protectorate of Indochina. The Japanese occupied it during World War 2. After the war, France tried to re-establish control but were defeated at Dien Bien Phu (1954). Tonkin became part of North Vietnam.