Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage: Sino-Soviet Rivalry and the Termination of the Sino-Vietnamese Alliance

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Collateral Damage
    Book Description:

    Although the Chinese and the Vietnamese were Cold War allies in wars against the French and the Americans, their alliance collapsed and they ultimately fought a war against each other in 1979. More than thirty years later the fundamental cause of the alliance's termination remains contested among historians, international relations theorists, and Asian studies specialists. Nicholas Khoo brings fresh perspective to this debate.

    Using Chinese-language materials released since the end of the Cold War, Khoo revises existing explanations for the termination of China's alliance with Vietnam, arguing that Vietnamese cooperation with China's Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union, was the necessary and sufficient cause for the alliance's termination. He finds alternative explanations to be less persuasive. These emphasize nonmaterial causes, such as ideology and culture, or reference issues within the Sino-Vietnamese relationship, such as land and border disputes, Vietnam's treatment of its ethnic Chinese minority, and Vietnam's attempt to establish a sphere of influence over Cambodia and Laos.

    Khoo also adds to the debate over the relevance of realist theory in interpreting China's international behavior during both the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. While others see China as a social state driven by nonmaterial processes, Khoo makes the case for viewing China as a quintessential neorealist state. From this perspective, the focus of neorealist theory on security threats from materially stronger powers explains China's foreign policy not only toward the Soviet Union but also in relation to its Vietnamese allies.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52163-5
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 CHINA’S COLD WAR ALLIANCE WITH VIETNAM: Historical and Theoretical Significance
    (pp. 1-14)

    From the 1950s through the early 1970s, the Chinese and Vietnamese communists shared a common ideology and a strategic interest in opposing American containment policy in Asia.¹ During this period relations were sufficiently close that Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh characterized the Chinese and Vietnamese communists as “comrades plus brothers [tongzhi jia xiongdi].”² By all accounts, Ho’s characterization of bilateral relations was an accurate one. At a time when China was strapped for resources, Beijing made a significant financial contribution to the Vietnamese communists’ war efforts, against first the French and then the Americans.³ Chinese estimates place the total value...

  6. 2 BREAKING THE RING OF ENCIRCLEMENT: Sino-Soviet Alliance Termination and the Chinese Communists’ Vietnam Policy, 1964–1968
    (pp. 15-44)

    The escalating Sino-Soviet conflict¹ that followed Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization speech² at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1956 was a critical development in the Cold War.³ It marked the beginning of an extended period in which China and the Soviet Union actively participated in a rivalry for influence within and without the communist world.⁴ Perhaps the most significant consequence of this rivalry was the de facto termination of the Sino-Soviet alliance, a development that altered global and regional power relations.⁵ Not least among the effects of the Sino-Soviet conflict was its...

  7. 3 A WAR ON TWO FRONTS: The Sino-Soviet Conflict During the Vietnam War and the Betrayal Thesis, 1968–1973
    (pp. 45-77)

    In early September 1968, on the occasion of the twenty-third anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), Mao Zedong declared to the Vietnamese ambassador at a banquet in honor of the occasion: “Your struggle is our struggle [nimen de douzheng shi women de douzhen]. The Vietnamese people have the powerful backing of seven hundred thousand Chinese; the vast Chinese territory is Vietnam’s dependable rear-area [kekao houfang].”¹ By the time the United States and the Vietnamese communists signed the agreement to end the conflict in Vietnam on 27 January 1973, however, there had been a qualitative deterioration...

  8. 4 THE POLITICS OF VICTORY: Sino-Soviet Relations and the Road to Vietnamese Unification, 1973–1975
    (pp. 78-102)

    By the time the Paris Agreement was concluded in late January 1973,¹ the Chinese and the Soviets had come to view each other as inveterate adversaries.² Not surprisingly, bilateral relations in the period from 1973 until 1975 were characterized by increasing conflict. Given this state of affairs, there were increasing incentives for Moscow to further develop its relationship with Hanoi through economic and military assistance. The accompanying increase in Soviet-Vietnamese cooperation had the effect of heightening Chinese fears about encirclement on its southern periphery. Beijing then adopted a strategy that was designed to balance against the increasingly Soviet-aligned Vietnamese. This...

  9. 5 THE END OF AN “INDESTRUCTIBLE FRIENDSHIP”: Soviet Resurgence and the Termination of the Sino-Vietnamese Alliance, 1975–1979
    (pp. 103-136)

    From the Chinese perspective,¹ the defining features of the post–Vietnam War period, namely, American retrenchment and a corresponding assertiveness in Soviet foreign policy, were adverse developments.² However, adversity did not lead to appeasement, let alone capitulation. Quite the contrary. Rather than concede to rising Soviet power, the Chinese continued their basic stance, evident since the early 1960s, of opposing Moscow. Amidst the increase in Sino-Soviet conflict, the newly independent Vietnam became the focus of increased Chinese and Soviet attention. Beijing and Moscow encountered a leadership in Hanoi that, while generally more inclined to support the Soviet Union, was also...

    (pp. 137-164)

    The Sino-Soviet dispute and de facto termination of their alliance¹ were major developments in the international relations of the Cold War.² They form a key component in any account of why the Soviet-led communist vision of international order was ultimately unsuccessful in its competition with the alternative vision led by the United States.³ Despite its manifest importance, the multiple consequences associated with the termination of the Sino-Soviet alliance have not been sufficiently explored in the literature. This book is part of an emerging literature that has sought to make some headway in filling this gap.⁴ We have done so by...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 165-222)
    (pp. 223-250)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 251-268)