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“China’s Military Assistance to North Vietnam Revisited”

In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations
Author:
Chengzhi Yin PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, Boston College, USA, yinch@bc.edu

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North Vietnam announced its intention to unify its country with armed struggle in 1959. Thereafter, Hanoi consistently requested military assistance from the People’s Republic of China (prc). However, Beijing did not grant Hanoi’s request until 1962. Why did the prc agree to provide military assistance to North Vietnam? This article argues that China did so because the United States greatly increased its military presence in South Vietnam in late 1961 and 1962. Therefore, Beijing provided military assistance to Hanoi to secure China’s southern border. Employing primary sources, this study traces changes in Beijing’s attitude toward its Vietnam policy from 1958 to 1962. It shows that when U.S. military presence was limited, Beijing paid more attention to the avoidance of war with the United States and maintaining a hospitable environment in neighboring Indochina. However, when the prc perceived the U.S. presence as a threat to its security, the objective of seeking security overwhelmed other objectives.

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