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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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Reassessing the 1979 War

Reassessing the 1979 War

(p.115) 5 Reassessing the 1979 War
Deng Xiaoping's Long War

Xiaoming Zhang

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter reviews the Sino-Vietnamese conflict's political and military repercussions and the lessons learned according to the Chinese themselves. It argues that despite significant differences between the Western and Chinese perspectives on the 1979 conflict, the two are consistent in some aspects of their review of how Chinese leaders approached matters of war and strategy. First, Chinese leaders were deliberative and calculating about when and how military power was to be used but did not hesitate to go to war once they decided that China's national interests were at stake. Second, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) demonstrated a preference for seizing and maintaining operational initiatives by deploying superior and more powerful forces. Third, the Chinese sense of military victory lay more in their evaluation of the geopolitical outcomes than in their judgment of operational performance on the battlefield. Fourth, political work remains a unique PLA approach to ensure the effectiveness of its forces on the battlefield.

Keywords:   People's Liberation Army, PLA, China, Vietnam, military campaign, military strategy

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