||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2010)|
(Third Indochina War)
|Part of the Indochina Wars and the Cold War|
Clockwise, from top left: Vietnamese artillery fired on Chinese positions; a Chinese convoy led by a Type 63 armoured personnel carrier advanced into Vietnam's Cao Bang Province; Chinese militiamen working as stretcher bearers; a Vietnamese soldier defended the town of Lang Son with an RPG-7 grenade launcher; Chinese troops surged into the town of Cao Bang on February 24, 1979; Vietnamese militiawomen guarded a group of Chinese POWs.
|Commanders and leaders|
| Deng Xiaoping
| Ton Duc Thang
Văn Tiến Dũng
Dam Quang Trung
|China Claimed: 200,000 PLA with 400-550 tanks
Vietnam Claimed: 600,000 PLA infantry and 400 tanks from Kunming and Guangzhou Military Districts
|70,000–100,000 regular force, 150,000 local troops and militia|
|Casualties and losses|
|Vietnam estimated: 62,000 casualties.
||China estimated: 30,000 soldiers killed.
Vietnam Claimed: 10,000 civilians killed, no figures of military
|Vietnamese||Chiến tranh biên giới Việt-Trung|
The Sino-Vietnamese War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh biên giới Việt-Trung; simplified Chinese: 中越战争; traditional Chinese: 中越戰爭; pinyin: zhōng-yuè zhànzhēng), also known as the Third Indochina War, was a brief border war fought between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in early 1979. China launched the offensive in response to Vietnam's invasion and occupation of Cambodia in 1978 (which ended the reign of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge). Chinese Vice-premier Deng Xiaoping saw this as a Soviet attempt "to extend its evil tentacles to Southeast Asia and...carry out expansion there," which reflected the long-standing Sino-Soviet split. As the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger notes: "[w]hatever the shortcomings of its execution, the Chinese campaign reflected a serious, long-term strategic analysis."
The Chinese entered northern Vietnam and captured some of the bordering cities. On March 6, 1979, China declared that the gate to Hanoi was open and that their punitive mission had been achieved. Chinese forces retreated back across the Vietnamese border, into China. Both China and Vietnam claimed victory in the last of the Indochina Wars of the 20th century; as Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989 it can be said that China failed to achieve the goal of dissuading Vietnam from involvement in Cambodia. However, Moscow surely realized that any attempt at expanding its foothold in Southeast Asia would have involved risk of military confrontation with China. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Sino-Vietnamese border was finalized.
China demonstrated to its Cold War Communist adversary, the Soviet Union, that they were unable to protect their new Vietnamese ally. Following worsening relations between the Soviet Union and China as a result of the Sino-Soviet split, as many as 1.5 million Chinese troops were stationed along the Soviet-Chinese border, in preparation for a full-scale war.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Background
- 3 History
- 4 Chinese forces
- 5 Vietnamese forces
- 6 Course of the war
- 7 Aftermath
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The Sino-Vietnamese War (Vietnam: Chiến tranh biên giới Việt-Trung) is also known in English as the Third Indochina War, to distinguish it from the First Indochina War, and the Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War. The war is also known in Vietnam as the War against Chinese expansionism (Vietnam: Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa).
French colonialism and the First Indochina War
Vietnam first became a French colony when France invaded in 1858. By the 1880s, the French had expanded their sphere of influence in Southeast Asia to include all of Vietnam, and by 1893 both Laos and Cambodia had become French colonies as well. Rebellions against the French colonial power were common up to World War I. The European war heightened revolutionary sentiment in Southeast Asia, and the independence-minded population rallied around revolutionaries such as Hồ Chí Minh and others, including royalists.
Prior to their attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese occupied French Indochina. The Japanese surrender in 1945 created a power vacuum in Indochina, as the various political factions scrambled for control.
The events leading to the First Indochina War are subject to historical contention. When the Vietminh hastily sought to establish the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the remaining French at first welcomed the new regime, but then staged a coup to regain their control. The Kuomintang supported French restoration, but Vietminh efforts towards independence were helped by Chinese communists under the Soviet Union's power. The Soviet Union at first indirectly supported Vietnamese communists, but later directly supported Hồ Chí Minh. The Soviets nonetheless remained less supportive than China until after the Sino-Soviet split, during the time of Leonid Brezhnev when the Soviet Union became the key ally to communist Vietnam.
The war itself involved numerous events that had major impacts throughout Indochina. Two major conferences were held to bring about a resolution. Finally, on July 20, 1954, the Geneva Conference resulted in a political settlement to reunite the country, signed with support from China, Russia, and Western European powers. While the Soviet Union played a constructive role in the agreement, it again was not as involved as China. The U.S. did not sign the agreement and swiftly moved to back South Vietnam.
The Chinese Communist Party and the Vietminh had a long history. During the initial stages of the First Indochina War with France, the recently founded communist People's Republic of China had to continue the Russian mission to expand communism. Therefore, they aided the Vietminh and became the connector between Soviets and the Vietminh. In early 1950, The Vietminh fought independently from the 'Chinese Military Advisory Group' under Wei Guoqing. This was one of the reasons for China to cut the arms support for the Vietminh.
After the death of Joseph Stalin, relations between the Soviet Union and China began to deteriorate. Mao Zedong believed the new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had made a serious error in his Secret Speech denouncing Stalin, and criticized the Soviet Union's interpretation of Marxism–Leninism, in particular Khrushchev's support for peaceful co-existence and its interpretation. This led to increasingly hostile relations, and eventually the Sino-Soviet split. From here, Chinese communists played a decreasing role in helping their former allies because the Vietminh did not support China against the Soviets.
Following the death of Mao, the overthrow of the Gang of Four and the ascent of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leadership would revise its own positions to become compatible with market aspects, denounce the Cultural Revolution, and collaborate with the US against the Soviet Union.
As France withdrew from a provisionally divided Vietnam in the early 1950s, the United States stepped in to support the non-communist leaders of South Vietnam due to the domino theory, which theorized that if one nation would turn to communism, the surrounding nations were likely to fall like dominoes and become communist as well. The Soviet Union and North Vietnam became important allies together due to the fact that if South Vietnam was successfully taken over by North Vietnam, then communism in the far-east would find its strategic position bolstered. In the eyes of the People's Republic of China, the growing Soviet-Vietnamese relationship was a disturbing development; they feared an encirclement by the less-than-hospitable Soviet sphere of influence.
The United States and the Soviet Union could not agree on a plan for a proposed 1956 election meant to unify the partitioned Vietnam. Instead, the south held a separate election that was widely considered fraudulent, leading to continued internal conflict with communist factions led by the Viet Cong that intensified through the late 1950s. With supplies and support from the Soviet Union, North Vietnamese forces became directly involved in the ongoing guerrilla war by 1960 and openly invaded the south in 1964.
The United States played an ever-increasing role in supporting South Vietnam through the period. The U.S. had supported French forces in the First Indochina War, sent supplies and military advisers to South Vietnam throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, and eventually took over most of the fighting against both North Vietnam and the Viet Cong by the mid-1960s. By 1968, over 500,000 American troops were involved in the Vietnamese conflict. Due to a lack of clear military success and facing increasingly strident opposition to the war in the U.S., American forces began a slow withdrawal in 1969 while attempting to bolster South Vietnam's military so that they could take over the fighting. Nevertheless, North Vietnam took control of all of South Vietnam in 1975, soon after American forces completed their withdrawal.
The People's Republic of China started talks with the United States in the early 1970s, culminating in high level meetings with Henry Kissinger and later Richard Nixon. These meetings contributed to a re-orientation of Chinese foreign policy toward the United States. Meanwhile, the People's Republic of China also supported the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Although the Vietnamese Communists and the Khmer Rouge had previously cooperated, the relationship deteriorated when Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot came to power and established Democratic Kampuchea. After the 1977 Khmer Rouge incursion against the Vietnamese provinces of An Giang, Châu Đốc and Kiên Giang (especially Phu Quoc island) numerous clashes along the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, and encouragement from Khmer Rouge defectors, Vietnam invaded Cambodia in December 1978.
In order to occupy the territory of Cambodia, Vietnam decided to move main forces from the north to the south but still harry the border of China at the command of Soviets. This decision put Vietnam into a bi-directional war with Cambodia and China. When China started attacking the military troops in the north of Vietnam, the Vietnamese government had to move their main forces south to defend their homeland. The Soviets announced that they were supporting the Vietnamese against Cambodian massacres. They sent heavy transport planes to help Vietnam move their main forces.
In late 1978, the Vietnamese military rushed to Phnom Penh quickly and ended the Khmer Rouge regime. However, the main forces continued to occupy Cambodia two years to help the new government stabilize.
While the first war emerged from the complex situation following World War II and the second exploded from the unresolved aftermath of political relations with the first, the Third Indochina War again followed the unsolved problems of the earlier wars.
China, now under Deng Xiaoping, was starting the Chinese economic reform and opening trade with NATO nations, in turn, growing increasingly defiant against the Soviet Union. On November 3, 1978, the Soviet Union and Vietnam signed a twenty-five year mutual defense treaty, which made Vietnam the "linchpin" in the Soviet Union's "drive to contain China."
On January 1, 1979, Chinese Vice-premier Deng Xiaoping visited the United States for the first time and spoke to American president Jimmy Carter: "Our little buddy is getting naughty, it's time he be spanked." (original Chinese words: 小朋友不听话，该打打屁股了。). On February 15, the first day that China could have officially announced the termination of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance, Deng Xiaoping declared that China planned to conduct a limited attack on Vietnam.
The reason cited for the attack was the mistreatment of Vietnam's ethnic Chinese minority and the Vietnamese occupation of the Spratly Islands (claimed by China). To prevent Soviet intervention on Vietnam's behalf, Deng warned Moscow the next day that China was prepared for a full-scale war against the Soviet Union; in preparation for this conflict, China put all of its troops along the Sino-Soviet border on an emergency war alert, set up a new military command in Xinjiang, and even evacuated an estimated 300,000 civilians from the Sino-Soviet border. In addition, the bulk of China's active forces (as many as one-and-a-half million troops) were stationed along China's borders with the Soviet Union.
In response to China's attack, the Soviet Union sent several naval vessels and initiated a Soviet arms airlift to Vietnam. However the Soviet Union felt that there was simply no way that they could directly support Vietnam against China; the distances were too great to be an effective ally, and any sort of reinforcements would have to cross territory controlled by China or U.S. allies. The only realistic option would be to indirectly restart the simmering border war with China in the north. Vietnam was important to Soviet policy but not enough for the Soviets to go to war over. When Moscow did not intervene, Beijing publicly proclaimed that the Soviet Union had broken its numerous promises to assist Vietnam. The Soviet Union's failure to support Vietnam emboldened China to announce on April 3, 1979, that it intended to terminate the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance.
On February 17, a Chinese force of about 200,000 supported by 200 Type 59, Type 62, and Type 63 tanks from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) entered northern Vietnam. The Chinese force consisted of units from the Kunming Military Region (later abolished), Chengdu Military Region, Wuhan Military Region (later abolished) and Guangzhou Military Region, but commanded by the headquarters of Kunming Military Region on the western front and Guangzhou Military Region in the eastern front.
Some troops engaged in this war, especially engineering units, railway corps, logistical units and antiaircraft units, had been assigned to assist North Vietnam in its war against South Vietnam just a few years earlier during the Vietnam War. Contrary to the belief that over 600,000 Chinese troops entered North Vietnam, the actual number was only 200,000. However, 600,000 Chinese troops were mobilized, of which 400,000 were deployed away from their original bases during the one month conflict. Around 200 tanks (specifically Type 59s) were also deployed.
The Chinese troop deployments were observed by U.S. spy satellites, and the KH-9 Big Bird photographic reconnaissance satellite played an important role. In his state visit to the U.S. in 1979, the Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was presented with this information and asked to confirm the numbers. He replied that the information was completely accurate. After this public confirmation in the U.S., the domestic Chinese media were finally allowed to report on these deployments.
Chinese order of battle
- Guangxi Direction (East Front) commanded by the Front Headquarter of Guangzhou Military Region in Nanning. Commander-Xu Shiyou, Political Commissar-Xiang Zhonghua, Chief of Staff-Zhou Deli
- North Group: Commander-Ou Zhifu (Deputy Commander of Guangzhou Military Region)
- South Group: Commander-Wu Zhong (Deputy Commander of Guangzhou Military Region)
- East Group: Commander-Jiang Xieyuan (Deputy Commander of Guangzhou Military Region)
- 55th Corps Commander-Zhu Yuehua, Temporary Political Commissar-Guo Changzeng
- 1st Artillery Division
- Reserve Group (came from Wuhan Military Region except 50th Corps from Chengdu Military Region), Deputy Commander-Han Huaizhi (Commander of 54th Corps)
- 43rd Corp Commander-Zhu Chuanyu, Temporary Political Commissar-Zhao Shengchang
- 54th Corps Commander-Han Huaizhi (pluralism), Political Commissar-Zhu Zhiwei
- 50th Corps Temporary Commander-Liu Guangtong, Political Commissar-Gao Xingyao
- 20th Corps (only dispatched the 58th Division into the war)
- 58th Infantry Division (commanded by the 50th Corps during the war)
- Guangxi Military Region (as a provincial military region) Commander-Zhao Xinran Chief of Staff-Yin Xi
- 1st Regiment of Frontier Defense in Youyiguan Pass
- 2nd Regiment of Frontier Defense in Baise District
- 3rd Regiment of Frontier Defense in Fangcheng County
- The Independent Infantry Division of Guangxi Military Region
- Air Force of Guangzhou Military Region (armed patrol in the sky of Guangxi, did not see combat)
- 70th Antiaircraft Artillery Division
- The 217 Fleet of South Sea Fleet
- 8th Navy Aviation Division
- The Independent Tank Regiment of Guangzhou Military Region
- 83rd Bateau Boat Regiment
- 84th Bateau Boat Regiment
- Yunnan Direction (the West Front) commanded by the Front Headquarter of Kunming Military Region in Kaiyuan. Commander-Yang Dezhi, Political Commissar-Liu Zhijian, Chief of Staff-Sun Ganqing
- 11th Corp(consisted of two divisions) Commander-Chen Jiagui, Political Commissar-Zhang Qi
- 13th Corps(camed from Chengdu Military Region) Commander-Yan Shouqing, Political Commissar-Qiao Xueting
- 14th Corp Commander-Zhang Jinghua, Political Commissar-Fan Xinyou
- 149th Infantry Division (from Chengdu Military Region, belonged to 50th Corps, assigned to Yunnan Direction during the war)
- Yunnan Military Region (as a provincial military region)
- 11th Regiment of Frontier Defense in Maguan County
- 12th Regiment of Frontier Defense in Malipo County
- 13th Regiment of Frontier Defense in
- 14th Regiment of Frontier Defense in
- The Independent Infantry Division of Yunnan Military Region commanded by 11th Corps in the war
- 65th Antiaircraft Artillery Division
- 4th Artillery Division
- Independent Tank Regiment of Kunming Military Region
- 86th Bateau Boat Regiment
- 23rd Logistic Branch consisted of five army service stations, six hospitals, eleven medical establishments)
- 17th Automobile Regiment commanded by 13th Corps during the war
- 22nd Automobile Regiment
- 5th Air Force Corps
The Vietnamese government claimed they left only a force of about 70,000 including several army regular divisions in its northern area. However, the Chinese estimates indicate more than twice this number. During the war, Vietnamese forces also used American military equipment captured during the Vietnam War.
- Main forces:
- 3rd Infantry Division (Golden Star Division), consisted of 2nd Infantry Regiment, 12th Infantry Regiment, 141st Infantry Regiment and 68th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Dong Dang, Van Dang, Cao Loc and Lang Son town of Lang Son province
- 338th Infantry Division, consisted of 460th Infantry Regiment, 461st Infantry Regiment, 462nd Infantry Regiment and 208th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Loc Binh and Dinh Lap of Lang Son province
- 346th Infantry Division (Lam Son Division), consisted of 246th Infantry Regiment, 677th Infantry Regiment, 851st Infantry Regiment and 188th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Tra Linh, Ha Quang and Hoa An of Cao Bang province
- 325th-B Infantry Division, consisted of 8th Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Regiment, 288th Infantry Regiment and 189th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Tien Yen and Binh Lieu of Quang Ninh province
- 242nd Infantry Brigade, located at coastlines and islands of Quang Ninh province
- Local forces:
- At Cao Bang province: 567th Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion, 1 battalion of air defense artillery and 7 infantry battalions
- At Lang Son province: 123rd Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Regiment and 7 infantry battalions
- At Quang Ninh province: 43rd Infantry Regiment, 244th Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion, 4 battalions of air defense artillery and 5 infantry battalions
- Armed police forces (Border guard): 12th Mobile Regiment at Lang Son, 4 battalions at Cao Bang and Quang Ninh, some companies and 24 border posts
- Main forces:
- 316th Infantry Division (Bong Lau Division), consisted of 98th Infantry Regiment, 148th Infantry Regiment, 147th Infantry Regiment and 187th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Binh Lu and Phong Tho of Lai Chau province
- 345th Infantry Division, consisted of 118th Infantry Regiment, 121st Infantry Regiment, 124th Infantry Regiment and 190th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Bao Thang of Hoang Lien Son province
- 326th Infantry Division, consisted of 19th Infantry Regiment, 46th Infantry Regiment, 541st Infantry Regiment and 200th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Tuan Giao and Dien Bien of Lai Chau province
- Local forces:
- At Ha Tuyen: 122nd Infantry Regiment, 191st Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion and 8 infantry battalions
- At Hoang Lien Son: 191st Infantry Regiment, 254th Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion and 8 infantry battalions
- At Lai Chau: 193rd Infantry Regiment, 741st Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion and 5 infantry battalions
- Armed police forces (Border guard): 16th Mobile Regiment at Hoang Lien Son, some companies and 39 border posts
In addition, Vietnam Forces were supported by about 50,000 militia at each Military Region
Course of the war
The Chinese entered Northern Vietnam and advanced quickly about 15–20 kilometers into Vietnam, with fighting mainly occurring in the provinces of Cao Bằng, Lào Cai and Lạng Sơn. The Vietnamese avoided mobilizing their regular divisions, and held back some 300,000 troops for the defence of Hanoi. The Vietnamese forces tried to avoid direct combat, and often used guerrilla tactics.
The initial Chinese attack soon lost its momentum, and a new wave of attack was sent in. Eight Chinese divisions joined the battle, and captured some of the northernmost cities in Vietnam. After capturing the northern heights above Lang Son, the Chinese surrounded and paused in front of the city in order to lure the Vietnamese into reinforcing it with units from Cambodia. This had been the main strategic ploy in the Chinese war plan as Deng did not want to risk an escalation involving the Soviet Union. The VPA high command, after a tip-off from Soviet satellite intelligence, was able to see through the trap, however, and committed reserves only to Hanoi.
Once this became clear to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), the war was practically over. An assault was still mounted, but the Vietnamese only committed one VPA regiment defending the city. After three days of bloody house-to-house fighting, Lang Son fell on March 6. The PLA then took the southern heights above Lang Son and occupied Sapa. The PLA claimed to have crushed several of the Vietnamese regular units.
The Chinese now resumed their attacks aimed at the major provincial capitals and key communication centres in the border hinter land. Major battles developed at Cao Bằng, Lang Son, Hoang Lien Son, Lai Chau and Quang Ninh. The aim of these attacks was to draw in the regular Vietnamese Army formations and inflict heavy attrition on them through classical "meat-grinder" operations. There were fierce attacks and counterattacks. In Lang Son the Chinese launched 17 counterattacks to regain one objective.
By late last week of February, the Vietnamese had still not committed any of their regular divisions which were being held back for the defence of Hanoi. They had also not pulled out any of their 150,000 troops in Cambodia. In the provincial capital the Vietnamese adopted their favourite tactic: they withdrew from the towns into the adjoining hills. As the Chinese formations surged in they were engaged from all sides from the surrounding hills and quite severely mauled. At the same time, due to the crude tactics and strategy of the PLA command, PLA units also suffered extensive casualties themselves. The combination of high casualties, a badly organized command, harsh Vietnamese resistance and the risk of the Soviets entering the conflict stopped the Chinese from going any farther.
On March 6, China declared that the gate to Hanoi was open and that their punitive mission had been achieved. On the way back to the Chinese border, the PLA destroyed all local infrastructure and housing and looted all useful equipment and resources (including livestock), which were mainly donated by China to support Vietnam's economy prior to the war, severely weakening the economy of Vietnam's northernmost provinces. The PLA crossed the border back into China on March 16. Both sides declared victory with China claiming to have crushed the Vietnamese resistance and Vietnam claiming to have repelled the invasion using mostly border militias.
The aftermath of the war had different effects. China and Vietnam each lost thousands of troops, and China lost 3,446 million yuan in overhead, which delayed completion of their 1979–80 economic plan. To reduce Vietnam's military capability against China, the Chinese implemented a "scorched-earth policy" while returning to China, causing extensive damage to the Vietnamese countryside and infrastructure. Although Vietnam continued to occupy Cambodia, China successfully mobilized international opposition to the occupation, rallying such leaders as Cambodia's deposed king Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodian anticommunist leader Son Sann, and high-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge to deny the pro-Vietnam regime in Cambodia diplomatic recognition beyond the Soviet bloc. China improved relations with ASEAN by promising protection to Thailand and Singapore against "Vietnamese aggression". In contrast, Vietnam's decreasing prestige in the region led it to be more dependent on the Soviet Union, to which it leased a naval base at Cam Ranh Bay. On March 1, 2005, Howard W. French wrote in The New York Times: Some historians stated that the war was started by Mr. Deng (China's then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping) to keep the army preoccupied while he consolidated power...
The number of casualties during the war is disputed. Vietnamese source claimed the PLA had suffered 62,500 total casualties; while Chinese democracy activist Wei Jingsheng told western media in 1980 that the Chinese troops had suffered 9,000 deaths and about 10,000 wounded during the war. New Chinese sources indicated that China only suffered 6,954 lost.
Like their counterparts in the Chinese government, the Vietnamese government has never announced any information on its actual military casualties. China estimated Vietnamese side had 42,000 soldiers killed and 70,000 militias also killed by the Chinese PLA. The Nhan Dan newspaper the Central Organ of the Communist Party of Vietnam claimed that Vietnam suffered more than 10,000 civilian deaths during the Chinese invasion and earlier on May 17, 1979, reported statistics on heavy losses of industry and agriculture properties.
Border skirmishes continued throughout the 1980s, including a significant skirmish in April 1984. Armed conflict only ended in 1989 after the Vietnamese agreed to fully withdraw from Cambodia. This conflict also saw the first use of the Type 81 assault rifle by the Chinese and a naval battle over the Spratly Islands in 1988 known as the Johnson South Reef Skirmish. In 1999 after many years of negotiations, China and Vietnam signed a border pact, though the line of demarcation remained secret.
There was an adjustment of the land border, resulting in Vietnam giving China part of its land which were lost during the battle, including the Ai Nam Quan Gate which served as the traditional border marker and entry point between Vietnam and China, which caused widespread frustration within Vietnam. Vietnam's official news service reported the implementation of the new border around August 2001. Again in January 2009 the border demarcation with markers was officially completed, signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Dung on the Vietnamese side and his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, on the Chinese side. Both the Paracel (Hoàng Sa: Vietnamese) (Xīshā: Chinese) and Spratly (Trường Sa: Vietnamese) (Nansha: Chinese) islands remain a point of contention.
During the Sino-Soviet split, strained relations between China and the Soviet Union resulted in strained relations between China and the pro-Soviet Afghan Communist regime. China and Afghanistan had neutral relations with each other during the King's rule. When the pro-Soviet Afghan Communists seized power in Afghanistan in 1978, relations between China and the Afghan communists quickly turned hostile. The Afghan pro-Soviet communists supported the Vietnamese during the Sino-Vietnamese War and blamed China for supporting Afghan anti-communist militants. China responded to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by supporting the Afghan Mujahideen and ramping up their military presence near Afghanistan in Xinjiang. China acquired military equipment from the United States to defend itself from Soviet attack.
In response to the Soviet threat level, the Chinese People's Liberation Army trained and supported the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. China moved its training camps for the mujahideen from Pakistan into China itself. Hundreds of millions worth of anti-aircraft missiles, rocket launchers and machine guns were given to the Mujahideen by the Chinese. Chinese military advisors and army troops were present with the Mujahideen during training.
Relations after the war
The December 2007 announcement of a plan to build a Hanoi-Kunming highway was a landmark in Sino-Vietnamese relations. The road will traverse the border that once served as a battleground. It should contribute to demilitarizing the border region, as well as facilitating trade and industrial cooperation between the nations.
In popular culture
There are a number of Chinese songs, movies and T.V. programs depicting and discussing this conflict with Vietnam in 1979 from the Chinese viewpoint. These vary from the patriotic song "Bloodstained Glory" originally written to laud the sacrifice and service of the Chinese military, to the 1986 film The Big Parade which carried (as far as possible, in China at that time) veiled criticism of the war.
The war was mentioned in the film Đất mẹ (Motherland) directed by Hai Ninh in 1980 and Thị xã trong tầm tay (Town at the Fingertips) directed by Dang Nhat Minh in 1982. Besides in 1982, a document film called Hoa đưa hương nơi đât anh nằm (Flowers over Your Grave) was directed by Truong Thanh, the film told a story of a Japanese journalist who died during the war. During the war, there are numerous patriotic songs produced to boost the nationalism of Vietnamese people, including "Chiến đấu vì độc lập tự do" ("Fight for Independence and Freedom") composed by Pham Tuyen, "Lời tạm biệt lúc lên đường" ("Farewell When Leaving") by Vu Trong Hoi, "40 thế kỷ cùng ra trận" ("40 Centuries We Fought Side By Side") by Hong Dang, "Những đôi mắt mang hình viên đạn" ("The Angry Gaze") by Tran Tien and "Hát về anh" (Sing for you) by The Hien. The Sino-Vietnamese War also appeared in some novels such as: Đêm tháng Hai (Night of February) written by Chu Lai in 1979 and Chân dung người hàng xóm (Portrait of the Neighborhood) written by Duong Thu Huong in 1979.
- Zygmunt Czarnotta and Zbigniew Moszumański, Altair Publishing, Warszawa 1995, ISBN 83-86217-16-2
- Zhang Xiaoming, "China's 1979 War with Vietnam: A Reassessment", China Quarterly, Issue no. 184 (December 2005), pp. 851–874. Actually are thought to have been 200,000 with 400 – 550 tanks. Zhang writes that: "Existing scholarship tends towards an estimate of as many as 10,000 PLA killed in action and another 37,000 wounded. Recently available Chinese sources categorize the PLA’s losses as 8,531 dead and some 21,000 injured, giving a total of 24,000 casualties from an invasion force of 200,000."
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- "中共對侵越戰爭八股自辯" (in Chinese). Retrieved February 23, 2009.
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