Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I could not have completed this book without the institutional and financial support I have received. In particular, I thank the Air University Foundation for a grant that enabled me to do research in China in the summer of 2007 and the Air War College for a 2010–11 sabbatical that allowed...

Abbreviations

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p. xiii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

In mid-February 1979, the world was shocked when military forces from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) suddenly invaded the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV). To many outsiders, the two nations seemed firm allies, and the invasion was all the more surprising because, in the words of the...

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1. The Roots of the Sino-Vietnamese Conflict

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pp. 13-39

Shared causes and conflicts hardly render nations and peoples immune from rivalries and differences that can lead to subsequent discord. In 1754, American colonists joined in common cause with the forces of the British Empire, fighting steadfastly over the next nine years against the...

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2. Deng Xiaoping and China’s War Decision

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pp. 40-66

In late fall of 1978, the spotlight in Beijing was Deng Xiaoping’s reascendance and the Chinese leadership’s adoption of economic reform as the highest national priority. During that same period, at the headquarters of the General Staff, PLA officers were considering the use of force to resolve...

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3. Planning and Preparation for the Invasion

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pp. 67-89

On 9 December 1978, both the Guangzhou and Kunming Military Regions received orders to deploy troops on the Vietnamese border by 10 January and prepare to fight a war “in limited time and space” with “overwhelming force.” Many Chinese soldiers doubted whether China should attack...

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4. Bloodshed over Vietnam’s Northern Border Region

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pp. 90-114

China’s 1979 invasion of Vietnam can be divided into three phases. During the first phase (17–25 February), Chinese forces broke through the Vietnamese first line of resistance and captured the provincial capitals of Cao Bang and Lao Cai and a key border town, Dong Dang, the gateway to Lang...

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5. Reassessing the 1979 War

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pp. 115-140

The classic Sun Tzu adage of war, “Know the enemy and know yourself,” writ large, is a fundamental tenet of Chinese military strategy. The PLA always maintained an active self-evaluation program to be fully aware of its strengths and weaknesses. Deng Xiaoping reckoned that the invasion...

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6. A Decadelong Continued Border Conflict, 1980–1990

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pp. 141-168

The withdrawal of Chinese troops from Vietnam did not bring an end to hostilities between the two countries; instead, military confrontation continued as the Chinese and Vietnamese regular forces competed for control of mountainous positions along the border, with attacks and counterattacks...

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7. In the Shadow of the Border Conflict

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pp. 169-192

The history of China in the 1980s is commonly reduced to simply a discussion of Deng Xiaoping’s reform movement and his policy of opening China to the West. Journalists, diplomatic observers, and historians alike have concentrated on these two themes and their related political and social...

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8. The Road to Conflict Termination

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pp. 193-210

China’s decision to use military force to counter Vietnam’s “hegemony” was largely based on the Chinese leadership’s calculation of a serious evolving Soviet threat to its geopolitical interests. Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia was regarded as a key component of a broader Soviet scheme to encircle...

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Conclusion: A Personal Retrospective on China’s Border War, Rapprochement with Vietnam, and Implications for East Asian Affairs

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pp. 211-220

In his classic study of war, noted historian Michael Howard comments that “an understanding of the causes and the nature of war is a necessary characteristic of the educated citizen; and . . . that the deeper such understanding is, the less likely is war to occur.”1 Howard also implies that this understanding...

Notes

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pp. 221-252

Bibliography

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pp. 253-270

Index

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pp. 271-277