Indo-China in Turmoil
Vietnam's present-day expansionism in Indo-China is not a recent phenomenon but has roots in its pre-colonial past argues Milton Osborne.
Nearly four years after the Communist victories in the three countries of Indo-China war, and the threat of war, remain as the dominant features of the region's contemporary history. For anyone aware of developments in Indo-China over the past 200 years there is an immediate, if perhaps overly superficial, temptation to see history repeating itself not as farce but as tragedy. China's invasion of Vietnam in February and March, 1979 raised echoes of another Chinese invasion of 1788-89 that was also designed to reverse developments seen as harmful to Chinese interests. That earlier invasion, however, had a very different result by comparison with more recent events, for in 1789 the Chinese were soundly defeated, Nevertheless, many elements present in relations between China and Vietnam 200 years ago are still important today. Most fundamentally, there is continuing tension arising from Vietnam's close cultural links with an immediate and much larger geographic neighbour whose political domination it firmly rejects.
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