Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

The Kampuchea-Vietnam Conflict: Fighting Erupts on Border

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 2, January 16, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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An armed conflict has developed between Democratic Kampuchea (formerly known as Cambodia) and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. While the imperialists and the reactionaries of the world gloat happily over these events, revolutionaries must regret the outbreak of armed confrontation and hope for an early settlement through peaceful negotiations.

The fact that the people of Vietnam and Kampuchea won their liberation through armed revolutionary struggle earned them the hatred of imperialism. Since liberation in 1975, the U.S. and the USSR, each through their own tactics, have plotted desperately to subvert the revolutions in Vietnam and Kampuchea. The U.S., for example, has instigated a fantastic propaganda campaign against Kampuchea, designed to isolate it in world public opinion. Not content to fabricate lies and slanders, the U.S. imperialists have also given backing to the military junta in Thailand, which has repeatedly made attacks on Kampuchean territory.

Meanwhile, the Soviet social-imperialists have flooded Vietnam with military advisers and time and again tried to force the Vietnamese people to accept their dictates. They have also chimed in with U.S. imperialism’s attacks on Kampuchea, a phenomenon which is not new, since the USSR also supported the reactionary Lon Nol regime in Kampuchea up until its final days.


Thus the background to the current fighting goes much deeper than boundary-line disputes left over from the history of French colonialist and U.S. imperialist domination of Indochina. It also includes the wild contention of the super-powers who both desire to halt the advance of socialism, turn Vietnam and Kampuchea against each other and encircle China.

As elsewhere in the world, it is the Soviet social-imperialists who are playing the most dangerous role. Battlefield reports confirm that Russian commanders are directly involved in the Vietnamese advance into Kampuchea. Russian-speaking voices have been heard barking radio orders to the tank corps, and the bodies of several Russian officers have been found on the battlefield inside Kampuchean territory.

On Dec. 31, the Kampuchean ambassador to China, Pich Cheang, held a press conference in Peking, at which he issued a full statement by his government concerning the armed conflict on the Vietnam-Kampuchea border. In the statement, he condemned the role of “foreign powers” for prodding Vietnam into aggression. He said:

If the foreigners, advisers, experts or commanding officers take part in the attacks, aggression or invasion against Democratic Kampuchea, the government of Democratic Kampuchea considers them and their governments as direct aggressors against Democratic Kampuchea and its people.” The statement issued a warning to them to “immediately stop their acts of interference and aggression against Democratic Kampuchea.

The Kampuchean statement also recounted the development of the conflict. It said that since September 1977 the Vietnamese army had launched “systematic and large-scale aggression and invasion against Democratic Kampuchea.”

Many divisions of infantry, hundreds of armored cars, hundreds more pieces of artillery and sometimes air support were used by Vietnam in this aggression, the statement said.

The Kampuchean statement went on to detail numerous instances of aggression inside Kampuchean territory, including the looting of rice crops, the destruction of rubber fields, and attacks on the civilian population.

Referring to the cause of these attacks, the Kampuchean statement said: “The fundamental reason is that Vietnam has for a long time cherished the strategic aim to make Kampuchea participate in an ’Indochina Federation’ under the Vietnamese thumb.”

It went on to say, “With regard to these acts perpetrated by Vietnam, Kampuchea, with its desire to live in good neighborhood as genuine friends, has kept a stand of maturity and wisdom and has worked for solidarity with Vietnam. But at the same time, it has always firmly abided by the position of independence, sovereignty and self-reliance, the honor and dignity of its people.”

The statement also reiterated Kampuchea’s basic foreign policy, stressing among other points that “Democratic Kampuchea never interferes with the internal affairs of any other country. She scrupulously abides by the principle that every country is sovereign and has the right to dispose and decide by itself its internal affairs without any foreign interference.”

The government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has also presented the facts of the situation from its point of view in a number of press statements. A Vietnam News Agency report on Dec. 31 referred to “increasing tension on the border” between the two countries and called for a meeting of the two sides “as early as possible at whatever level, so as to together solve the border issue between the two countries in a spirit of brotherly friendship.”

The statement also said that the border question should be settled on the basis of respect for each other’s territorial sovereignty and also by consolidating and promoting the relations of solidarity and friendship between the two countries.

Clearly, it is in the interests of both the Vietnamese and Kampuchean peoples to move to an early and just settlement of differences through negotiations. This will help frustrate the ambitions of the imperialists and promote the unity of the third world and the socialist countries.