In This Review

China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975
China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975
By Qiang Zhai
University of North Carolina Press, 2000, 304 pp

Recently declassified archival material in China has shed much light on China's participation in Vietnam's wars. In this account, Qiang Zhai argues that Chinese support was essential for the victory over the French and quite substantial against the Americans; in the war against the United States, China provided 320,000 support troops, more than 1,000 of whom were killed. Focusing on Beijing's military and diplomatic advice to Hanoi, the author depicts Zhou Enlai as a leading hawk who opposed any Vietnamese negotiations with the Americans, often pushed to escalate the fighting, and tried to sabotage the peace process from 1965 to 1968. Beijing was still pressing Hanoi to keep up the war even as Kissinger and Nixon went to China in 1972. Ironically, the very successes of the Vietnamese compelled the Chinese to reverse directions when they found that they had a power on their southern flank that was growing closer to China's adversary, the Soviet Union. For their part, the Vietnamese happily accepted China's assistance but resented its attempts to mastermind Indochinese developments.