Sino-Vietnamese War

The Cold War in Asia

East Asia 1979.0305

Sino-Vietnamese War

Korean War, Indochina War, Vietnam War, Invasion of Tibet, Mao Zedong (5 March 1979)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

The Khmer Rouge's brutal rule in Cambodia led to millions of deaths, while its growing antagonism with its former Vietnamese allies erupted into full scale war in 1978. Vietnam quickly occupied most of Cambodia, prompting China, which had supported the Khmer Rouge, to attack Vietnam. After a month of brutal but inconclusive warfare, the Chinese withdrew.

Main Events

Cambodian genocide

Between 1.5 and 3 million Cambodians die under Khmer Rouge rule

Indonesian invasion of East Timor

In Operasi Seroja (Operation Lotus), the Indonesian navy bombarded Dili, capital of newly independent East Timor, followed by the simultaneous landing of Indonesian seaborne troops and paratroopers. Further assaults captured Bacau on 10 December and Liquisa and Maubara on Christmas Day. However, East Timorese troops held out in the interior until 1978, and sporadic guerrilla warfare would continue into the 1990s.

Unification of Vietnam

Unification of North and South Vietnam as Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Death of Mao Zedong

After suffering two major heart attacks in March and July 1976, Mao Zedong, Chairman of the People's Republic of China, was hit by a third attack on 5 September, rendering him an invalid. He died almost four days later at ten minutes past midnight on 9 September 1976, aged 82. The Communist Party of China kept his death secret until 4:00pm that day, when it released the news in a nationwide radio broadcast.

Dissolution of SEATO

South East Asia Treaty Organization formally dissolved

Independence of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands is made independent of the United Kingdom, with 35 year old Chief Minister Peter Kenilorea becoming Prime Minister.

Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia

Following repeated border clashes, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam launched a full-scale invasion of Khmer Rouge-ruled Democratic Kampuchea (modern Cambodia). The 150,000-strong Vietnamese force quickly defeated the Chinese-armed Kampuchean Revolutionary Army and, on 7 January 1979, occupied the capital of Phnom Penh. With the Khmer Rouge leadership forced to flee to neighboring Thailand, the Vietnamese backed the creation of a new state in Cambodia - the People's Republic of Kampuchea.

Sino-Vietnamese War

In response to the Vietnamese occupation of Chinese-backed Cambodia, the People's Republic of China invaded northern Vietnam, capturing a number of cities near the border. On 6 March, the Chinese declared their punitive mission had been accomplished and withdrew their troops. Both sides would claim victory, however, and small-scale border clashes would continue until 1990.

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