Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

(49) Comrades No More: The Outbreak of the Third Indochina War, Forty Years On

3/23/2018
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Wilson C, Mezzanine Level

Forty years ago, the world watched in astonishment as the first major military conflict between Communist nations flashed across their screens. As Vietnam invaded Cambodia in December 1978 and Chinese tanks rolled across the Vietnamese border two months later, journalists, scholars, and politicians around the world struggled to make sense of this conflict in a partisan climate with limited information. Forty years on, young scholars on both sides are using new methods and sources to update and challenge these older narratives. Khue Dieu Do’s work in newly available materials in American archives highlights the Carter Administration’s decision to play the “China card” as the primary reason for the failure of Vietnam’s normalization efforts with the US in 1978, further isolating Vietnam and driving it to closer alignment with the USSR, setting the stage for a showdown with China and Democratic Kampuchea. Using newly available Vietnamese and American archival sources, Hoang Minh Vu’s paper argues that besides trying to secure its southwestern flank, Vietnam sought to legitimize its narrative of “liberating” Cambodia at home and abroad by working to rebuild Cambodian infrastructure and set the foundations for a viable, independent, and friendly neighboring state. Qingfei Yin, by placing the historical memory of the 1979 war in China in the context of state-society relations, examines how the rise of civil society and the development of veteran movement has reshaped the discursive memory of the war in China, despite the Chinese government’s hesitance to recognize the war on an official and national level.

Presentations:

Hoang M. Vu

Cornell University, New York

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Shawn McHale

George Washington University, District of Columbia

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Khue D. Do

Seoul National University, Massachusetts, Republic of Korea

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Hoang M. Vu

Cornell University, New York

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Qingfei Yin

George Washington University, District of Columbia

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Shawn McHale

George Washington University, District of Columbia

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