A Personal Retrospective on China’s Border War, Rapprochement with Vietnam, and Implications for East Asian Affairs
This chapter presents the author's reflections about the Sino-Vietnamese conflict. It argues that the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War caused shockwaves within the international system of states. It not only marked the first time that Communist countries had been at war with each other but also happened in the immediate aftermath of the Second Indochina War between Vietnam and its proxies and the United States. After the Iron Curtain was built in the late 1940s, communist countries aligned together and locked themselves in a global struggle against “Western imperialism.” The eruption of the Sino-Vietnamese conflict, on the heels of the Sino-Soviet split a decade earlier, further divided the communist world, driving socialist countries to align themselves in coalitions ready to go to war against each other. The Sino-Vietnamese conflict also changed the balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union, setting the stage for the eventual collapse of the Soviet empire.
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