Chinese Military Strategy in the Third Indochina War
The Last Maoist War
Routledge – 2007 – 256 pages
Series: Asian Security Studies
This well-researched volume examines the Sino-Vietnamese hostilities of the late 1970s and 1980s, attempting to understand them as strategic, operational and tactical events.
The Sino-Vietnamese War was the third Indochina war, and contemporary Southeast Asia cannot be properly understood unless we acknowledge that the Vietnamese fought three, not two, wars to establish their current role in the region. The war was not about the Sino-Vietnamese border, as frequently claimed, but about China’s support for its Cambodian ally, the Khmer Rouge, and the book addresses US and ASEAN involvement in the effort to support the regime. Although the Chinese completed their troop withdrawal in March 1979, they retained their strategic goal of driving Vietnam out of Cambodia at least until 1988, but it was evident by 1984-85 that the PLA, held back by the drag of its ‘Maoist’ organization, doctrine, equipment, and personnel, was not an effective instrument of coercion.
Chinese Military Strategy in the Third Indochina War will be of great interest to all students of the Third Indochina War, Asian political history, Chinese security and strategic studies in general.
Introduction 1. Introduction Background 2. The Chinese Political Work System Narrative 3. Hanoi and Beijing on the Road to War 4. The 1979 Campaign 5. The Battle of Lang Son 6. Artillery Diplomacy: Waiting for the 'Second Lesson' Explorations 7. Crisis in Command: The Cadre System Under Stress in the Guangzhou Military Region 8. Political Work in the 1979 Campaign 9. Politics vs. Firepower: The Paradox of Maoist Tactics Conclusion 10. Conclusion: The Legacy of an ‘Incredible, Shrinking War.’ Appendix 1: Principles of the Political Work System. Appendix 2: Principal Duties of the Political Commissar