onsdag 9. februar 2022

Why Won’t Vietnam Teach the History of the Sino-Vietnamese War?

The exam period at Vietnamese colleges often falls in late January, a few weeks before the commemoration of the Sino-Vietnamese war, known in Vietnamese as Chiến tranh biên giới (the border war). The end of the semester thus “would be a perfect time to reflect upon the 1979 war, but I cannot lead my students to discuss it at length,” said Hang, a lecturer of international politics at a high-ranked college in Hanoi.

In response to Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia and its conclusion of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union in 1978, China launched an incursion into Vietnam in February 1979 and captured several border cities. The diplomatic relations between two Communist erstwhile allies hit a nadir. Between February 17 and March 16, the war claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers, though the precise number of casualties remains debatable. The Chinese army withdrew after three weeks, announcing that its punitive mission had been fulfilled.