Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Congress (Marxist-Leninist)

China Counter-Attacks Viet Nam Aggression


First Published: The Communist, Vol. V, No. 8, March 5, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On February 17, frontier forces from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army launched a counter-attack against Viet Nam in response to repeated Vietnamese armed provocations along their common border. After months of restraint and repeated warnings that “we will not attack unless we are attacked; if we are attacked we will certainly counterattack”, the Chinese were forced to take action against the Vietnamese provocations.

China hit hard into Viet Nam’s provinces along much of the 480 mile Sino-Vietnamese border. More than 100,000 troops backed with airpower and armored vehicles were involved in the counter-attack. At some points the Chinese were reported to be at least 10 miles inside Vietnamese territory.

In a news release on February 17th, the Chinese stressed that they “do not want a single inch of Vietnamese territory. All we want is a peaceful and stable border. After counter-attacking the Vietnamese aggressors as they deserve, the Chinese frontier troops will strictly keep to defending the borders of their own country.”

The counter-attack dealt a sharp blow to the Soviet backed Vietnamese strivings for regional hegemony in Southeast Asia. China pointed out that Viet Nam had arrogantly mistaken “China’s restraint and desire for peace as a sign of weakness.” But the attack proved that China will never stand by and appease or tolerate aggression.

History of Vietnamese Aggression

Over the past two years the Vietnamese have repeatedly violated the territorial integrity of China. Since August of last year alone, the Vietnamese have crossed the border into China 700 times killing or wounding 300 Chinese frontier guards and civilians. The armed incursions into Chinese territory have increased even more since December of last year with the signing of the Soviet-Vietnamese military alliance.

Instigated by the social imperialists and with the full backing of the Soviet war machine, the Vietnamese became even bolder in their attacks against China. In the first six weeks of this year at least 22 Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed and 20 wounded by mines planted by Vietnamese forces on the Chinese side of the border. They have also fired on Chinese fishing vessels, barricaded roads, attacked trains and undermined production in the border areas, threatening the peace and security of southern China.

Side by side with these border provocations, the Vietnamese have mounted a vicious anti-China, anti-Chinese campaign. Over the last year they have persecuted and expelled over 200,000 Chinese residents from Vietnam. Most of these Chinese people have lived in North Vietnam for many decades and were working people who had fought side by side with the Vietnamese against the US aggressors.

Vietnam has even gone so far as to call China the “main enemy” and to allege that China “harbors ambitions” against Viet Nam. But, the facts in Southeast Asia speak for themselves. It is Viet Nam’s striving for regional hegemonism, backed up by the Soviet Union’s own global hegemonist schemes, that is the real source of instability and war in Southeast Asia today. The Vietnamese-Chinese conflict can’t be narrowed to a conflict between a relatively “small” country and a relatively “large” one. To do so would be to belittle the role of the Soviet Union today as the main source of war.

Through their military alliance with the Soviet Union the Vietnamese have thrown in their lot with the new czars in Moscow. In seeking to establish an Indo-China Federation under their domination the Vietnamese are playing the role of the “Cuba in Asia” in Soviet schemes. By using Viet Nam as a junior partner the Soviets want to consolidate their own foothold in this area, which is strategically important in their war preparations and strivings for world hegemony.

Without Soviet support Vietnamese ambitions for their own regional hegemonism would not be possible. Without Soviet military backing Viet Nam could not maintain 50,000 troops in Laos to control that country. It could not send 150,000 troops to invade Kampuchea and to overthrow the legitimate Kampuchean government. And, it could not be militarily threatening Thailand and Malaysia, two other Southeast Asia countries.

Instead of trying to rebuild their country and improve the well-being of the Vietnamese people after years of war against US imperialism, the Vietnamese have forged ahead with their plans for regional hegemonism. The whole country is poised for war. In 1978, they launched a campaign for “strengthening combat effectiveness” which was regarded as the main task of the Vietnamese army and people for 1979 and 1980. The Vietnamese army today stands at 1,500,000–50% more than at the end of the war against US imperialism. At the same time the economic situation in Viet Nam is rapidly deteriorating as more and more Vietnamese are being drafted into the army and away from meeting the internal needs of Vietnam’s socialist construction. In order to sustain itself Viet Nam has had to become increasingly dependent on Moscow not only militarily, but also politically and economically, (see THE COMMUNIST, Vol.V, no.2, Hanoi Moscow Military Treaty).

China Plays Vanguard Role in Opposing Superpower Hegemony

China on the other hand has made clear that the main task facing the Chinese people in this period is the modernization of China by the year 2000. To successfully accomplish this goal the Chinese need an international situation of peace and stability.

The Chinese government and people have won respect and admiration the world over with their principled relations with other countries based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence. China does not meddle in the internal affairs of other countries and China has amassed no troops on foreign soil under the guise of “proletarian internationalism”. No where in the world today can you see the practice of Chinese bullying or Chinese “hegemonism” in their relations with other countries.

But, in the struggle for world peace and stability China must also play a vanguard role in opposing all acts of superpower aggression and building the broadest possible united front against superpower hegemonism which is the source for the growing danger of world war. In particular the Chinese have consistently upheld the three tasks of: 1) tell the people of the danger of war, 2) resist all acts of superpower aggression, and 3) oppose appeasement.

China’s counter-attack against Viet Nam is consistent with these principles. The border conflicts with China and the armed aggression against Kampuchea are concrete examples of acts of Vietnamese regional hegemonism serving the interest of Soviet strivings for world hegemony. If left unchecked the peace and security of Southeast Asia would only be further threatened and undermined.

Oppose Appeasement

In particular, the Chinese counter-attack against Viet Nam opposes the policy of appeasement. The US bourgeois press harps on the threat of war between China and the Soviet Union as a result of China’s counterattack. Behind this line is the assumption that China should ignore the repeated border provocations and the persecution and expulsion of Chinese residents from Viet Nam so as not to “provoke” the Soviet Union. The peace and security of her borders, as well as the whole country of Kampuchea, should be sacrificed to the hegemonists to whet their appetite and buy a little time.

This line is appeasement toward the Soviet Union and can in fact only bring war nearer. China’s decisive action on the other hand represents a concrete example of postponing the danger of war by militantly standing up to the bullying and aggression of the Soviet backed Vietnamese aggressors. The Chinese are in fact protecting the peace and security of Southeast Asia, Asia, and the world by defending their borders.

The Chinese have consistently opposed the policy of appeasement toward the Soviet Union. In Peking Review no.45, 1977, they state:

Did the Munich agreement to sacrifice Czechoslovakia, cooked up by Chamberlain, Daladier and company, stop or slow down the marc! of the voracious Hitler... Today’s activities are indeed far more hectic than those before World War II, what with the SALT talks between the United States and the Soviet Union, the talks on the reduction of forces in Central Europe and the conference on European security and co-operation. But hasn’t the war crisis in Europe worsened rather than abated despite the intensified efforts to keep these conferences going to make deals?...The more highfalutin the talk of detente and the more intense the efforts at appeasement, the greater the danger of war. (p.36)

China’s resistance to the Soviet backed Vietnamese border provocations deserves the support of all Marxist-Leninists, progressive, and peace loving people the world over. It serves as an inspiring example to the peoples of the world in their common struggle against the Soviet social imperialists and their agents like the Vietnamese authorities.

China’s action, not only in words but in deeds, opposes the policy of appeasement, is a blow to Soviet strivings for world hegemony, and postpones the outbreak of war.