Vietnam still nursing its wound from border war with China

Ha Thi Hien was 14 when the PLA launched its attacks into Vietnam following Vietnam’s invasion and occupation of Kampuchea. In a NYT report posted in the Today paper on 7 Jul, ‘Chinese artillery fire echoed across the hills around her home in northern Vietnam and hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers swarmed across the border.’ They fled their homes only to run into Chinese soldiers. The Chinese soldiers were all over Langson, all over north Vietnam.

Vietnam then was victorious against the mighty Americans, chased them out of Vietnam and went on to occupy Kampuchea and Laos. The speed and extent of the Vietnamese occupation of its neighbouring states brought fear to Thailand and Malaysia and as far south as Singapore. The Domino Theory was revived and was very real as no Southeast Asian country possessed the military might and experience to fight a war with Vietnam. The ease in the fall of Kampuchea and Laos was too frightening to imagine. Thailand was next.

The Americans were a lost cause for help, having been defeated and no longer had the appetite to engage the Vietnamese once again. Thailand sought help from neighbouring China. The Chinese responded positively as they too wanted to keep Kampuchea and Laos as independent states. China ordered the Vietnamese to pull out. The Vietnamese refused, after defeating the Americans they have no one to fear, not a relatively weak China. The Chinese gave them an ultimatum and when this was ignored, China launched a border war against the Vietnamese. It was a brutal war.

The Chinese went in to teach the Vietnamese a lesson and to pull out from Kampuchea and Laos. The Western media, still nursing the wounds and lost pride of the American defeat at the hands of Vietnam, were too happy to sing a different tune. Vietnam taught the Chinese a lesson. Who did the teaching and who received the lesson and learnt well not to repeat the same mistake? The Sino Vietnamese border was peaceful since then with no major incursions from the Vietnamese. They were ferocious fighters and attacked Chinese positions when told to vacate Kampuchea and Laos. They would not take such orders from China.
Not only that the Vietnamese no longer harbor the adventurism to attacking Chinese positions at the border, they left Kampuchea and Laos in peace. They withdrew. Period. Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries took a big sigh of relief that the Domino Theory would not materialize.

Till today, many western sources are still blowing the trumpet that China was taught a painful lesson. It was a bitter war with heavy casualties from both sides. The effective result, Vietnam left Kampuchea and Laos. If the Vietnamese had taught the Chinese a lesson, would they be so willing to give up their two prize catches in Kampuchea and Laos? Why should a victor in a war be dictated by a loser? Or it was the other way? The victor dictated the terms and the losers obliged, the loser, Vietnam, having been taught a lesson quietly withdrew from Kampuchea and Laos.

The Vietnamese are cocky and very aggressive in nature. They are very proud of their military triumphs against the French and the Americans. They would not give any respect to the Chinese. But their actions told the real story. They never dare to give any more trouble to China and her neighbours, Laos and now Cambodia.

They are starting to be itchy again, and harassing Chinese rigs in the South China Sea with tens of small fishing boats and coast guards attempting to ram the Chinese rigs. China is restraining itself from sinking them and allowing the western media a field day to denounce China as the aggressive party.

The recent trip by Yang Jiechi to Hanoi was not a friendly visit but to warn the Vietnamese to stop their harassment or they would be taught another lesson at sea. The Chinese have given enough face to the Vietnamese and even rope to hang themselves if they refused to stop their street punk tactics to ram the Chinese rigs. The Chinese must have told the Americans and the Asean states of what they told the Vietnamese and would take actions if the harassments continue. The Vietnamese are still as determined as ever to disrupt Chinese oil drilling processes. China has up the pressure by starting to arrest Vietnamese boats attempting to do so to mean business.

When would another flare up begin and when would a second lesson be taught? The first lesson seems to have lost its effect and faded in time. Are the Vietnamese seeking to be taught another lesson in how to behave as a good boy and a good neighbour?

Kopi Level - Green


Anonymous said...

RB the vietnamese are aggressive? Only the men lar. If you go geylang, the vietnamese mei mei are not only pretty but act like your girl friends lor. Some more the cost is really affordable. Matilar should know better.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

During the Vietnam War, they fought tenaciously against the Americans, the men and women fought side by side as equals. They continued to be vicious and deadly after they left Vietnam as boat people. That generation of Vietnamese lived through life knowing nothing but war.

Matilah would know how deadly they were, nothing to lose. The mei meis today may be different. But if you take note of their viciousness in attacking the Chinese factories, you can see glimpses of their tenacious past. The only thing holding back is their acknowledgement that dealing with China's PLA is different from the softy and rich kids from America. Forget about Rambo and Arnold S. Those are Hollywood make beliefs.

The Chinese have taught them a real hard lesson and they learnt well. They are restraining themselves for the moment.

b said...

Chinese only want to teach vietnam a lesson which is very unlike the japs who wanted to wipe the yellow skin out in the most cruel and dishonourable ways.

Chinese only wants to make money not war unless provoked. All these countries in asia must cooperate with china and asians will enjoy many years of peace and prosperity.

JayF said...

China won the border war?

How much are the Chinese posting you for such propaganda that flies in the face of established facts?

Why not take a look at some undisputed facts?

February 17, 1979 – March 16, 1979
(3 weeks and 6 days)
Location China–Vietnam border
Result Both sides claim victory
Chinese withdrawal from Vietnam
Continued Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia
Continued border clashes between China and Vietnam until 1990
changes Little territorial changes for either side; effectively uti possidetis and status quo ante bellum.

Also, if you claim a state of semi beligrence is a peaceful border, than I suppose the shelling of Cao Bang must be fireworks by the PLA in 1980.

If the Chinese claims victory of the eventual Viet withdrawal from Cambodia, it took some eleven years for the lesson to sink in even though the fighting lasted less than 3 months.

But the viets did learn a lesson, but it was more of a remedial lesson.

The Americans, Russians and French will leave one day, but the Chinese are always ready to sink a knife and are next door.