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Deng Xiaoping's Long WarThe Military Conflict between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991$
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Xiaoming Zhang

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469621241

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469621241.001.0001

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Bloodshed over Vietnam’s Northern Border Region

Bloodshed over Vietnam’s Northern Border Region

(p.90) 4 Bloodshed over Vietnam’s Northern Border Region
Deng Xiaoping's Long War

Xiaoming Zhang

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the three phases of China's 1979 invasion of Vietnam. During the first phase (17–25 February), Chinese forces broke through the Vietnamese first line of resistance and captured the provincial capitals of Cao Bang and Lao Cai and a key border town, Dong Dang, the gateway to Lang Son. The second phase (26 February–5 March), consisted of a full-scale Chinese assault on Lang Son in the east and additional military engagements in the areas of Sa Pa and Phong Tho in northwestern Vietnam. The final phase (early to mid-March) saw a continued mopping-up campaign against sporadic enemy resistance while Chinese forces razed military and economic installations before withdrawing from Vietnam on 16 March. The invasion highlighted serious deficiencies in the People's Liberation Army (PLA), preventing it from living up to its leaders' expectations. The most notable problem was the outdated doctrine, command and control system, operational tactics, and force structure, and the military's performance convinced the Chinese leadership that the PLA had to be reformed.

Keywords:   People's Liberation Army, PLA, China, Vietnam, invasion, military operations, Chinese military campaign

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