Sino-Vietnamese relations

Sino-Vietnamese relations

The bilateral relations between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the People's Republic of China have been troubled by regional rivalry and border issues despite their common communist background and association during the Vietnam War. The two nations fought a brief border war in 1979, but have since worked to improve their ties and cooperate.


Bilateral relations through history have been shaped by the Vietnam's suspicion of Chinese attempts to dominate it.cite web |url= |title=Vietnam - China |accessdate=2008-06-03 |publisher=U.S. Library of Congress] Along with the Soviet Union, China was an important strategic ally of the Communist North Vietnam, providing arms, training and essential supplies as it fought to defeat South Vietnam and its ally, the United States from 1950 to 1975.cite web |url= |title=China-Vietnam Bilateral Relations |accessdate=2008-06-03 ||date=2005-10-28] However, the Vietnamese Communists remained suspicious of China's perceived attempts to dominate Vietnam.

Vietnam's intervention in Cambodia in 1976 provoked tensions with China, which had allied itself with the Cambodian Communists, the Khmer Rouge.cite book
title=China and Vietnam: Politics of Asymmetry
publisher=Cambridge University Press
] Coupled with Vietnam's proximity to the Soviet Union (with whom China's ties were strained), China considered it as a threat to its regional sphere of influence and security.cite web |url= |title=Chinese invasion of Vietnam |accessdate=2008-06-03 |publisher=Global] Issues regarding the treatment of the 2 million Hoa, or ethnic Chinese people in Vietnam, against whom the government had started a crackdown, also provoked tensions. By 1978, China ended its aid to Vietnam, which had signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union, establishing extensive commercial and military ties.

Sino-Vietnamese War

During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese and the Chinese had agreed to defer tackling their territorial issues until the defeat of South Vietnam - these included the lack of delineation of its territorial waters in the Gulf of Tonkin and sovereignty over the Paracel and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The potential of offshore oil deposits in the Gulf of Tonkin raised tensions over the territorial waters. In 1973, North Vietnam announced its intention to allow foreign companies to explore and in January 1974, Chinese forces seized the Paracels, which were then occupied by South Vietnamese armed forces. After its takeover of South Vietnam in 1975, Vietnamese forces took over the Spratly Islands, over whom China had asserted sovereignty.

On February 17, 1979 Chinese forces attacked some positions on the border with Vietnam, but pulled back on March 5 after a two week campaign which devastated Vietnam and brought the PLA near Hanoi., Both sides suffered relatively heavy causalties, with Chinese causalties put at over 40,000 and Vietnamese causalties at over 100,000. Subsequent peace talks broke down in December 1979, and both China and Vietnam began a major build-up of forces along the border. Vietnam fortified border towns and districts and stationed as many as 600,000 troops; China stationed approximately 400,000 troops from its side of the border. Sporadic fighting on the border occurred throughout the 1980s and China threatened to launch another attack to force Vietnam's exit from Cambodia. In the 1980s, China pressured the Soviet Union to obtain Vietnam's withdrawal, but this did not succeed.

Improvement of bilateral relations

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and Vietnam's exit from Cambodia in 1990, its ties with China began improving. Both nations planned normalization of ties in a secret summit in Chengdu in September 1990 and officially normalized ties in November 1991. Since 1991, the leaders and high-ranking officials of both nations have exchanged visits. China and Vietnam both recognized and supported the post-1991 government of Cambodia and supported each other's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 1999, the secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Le Kha Phieu visited Beijing, where along with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, he announced a "16 Word Guideline" for improved and strong bilateral relations; a Joint Statement for Comprehensive Cooperation was issued in 2000. Vietnam and China also successfully negotiated a resolution of the disputes of the land border and maritime rights in the Gulf of Tonkin between 1999 and 2000. A joint agreement between China and ASEAN in 2002 marked out a process of peaceful resolution and guarantees against armed conflict. In 2002, Chinese President Jiang Zemin made an official visit to Vietnam, where numerous agreements were signed to expand trade and cooperation and resolve outstanding disputes.

Commercial ties

After both sides resumed trade links in 1991, growth in bilateral trade has increased from USD $32 million in 1991 to almost USD 7.2 billion by 2004.cite web |url= |title=China, Vietnam find love |accessdate=2008-06-03 |publisher=Asia Times|date=2005-7-21] Both governments have set the target of increasing trade volume to USD 10 billion by 2010. Vietnam's exports to China include crude oil, coal, coffee and food, while China exports pharmaceuticals, machinery, petroleum, fertilizers and automobile parts to Vietnam. China has become Vietnam's second-largest trading partner and the largest source of imports. Both nations are working to establish an "economic corridor" from China's Yunnan province to Vietnam's northern provinces and cities, and similar economic zones in the Gulf of Tonkin and connecting the Nanning of Guangxi province, Lang Son province, Hanoi, Haiphong and Quang Ninh province of Vietnam. Air and sea transport as well as railway have been opened between the two countries, so have the 7 pairs of national-level ports in the frontier provinces and regions of the two countries. Both sides have also launched joint ventures such as the Thai Nguyen Steel Complex, which produces hundreds of thousands of tones of steel products.


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