Asia Pacific 1975: Communist Victory in Indochina
Only months after the Paris Peace Accords, Nixon became embroiled in the Watergate scandal, which ultimately ended his presidency. With the US distracted by the scandal and unlikely to further intervene, North Vietnam launched a full scale invasion and conquest of the South. Communist revolutionaries in the rest of Indochina followed suit, with the Khmer Rouge seizing control of Cambodia and the Pathet Lao taking over Laos.
16–20 Jan 1974 Battle of the Paracel Islands▲
A South Vietnamese patrol inspecting the disputed Paracel Islands discovered the Chinese had occupied Drummond Island, prompting both sides to send forces to the islands. On 19 January, South Vietnamese soldiers landing on Duncan Island were repelled by Chinese troops, with opposing support warships fighting a naval battle later that morning. The next day, the Chinese bombed the islands and landed more troops, forcing the remaining South Vietnamese garrison to surrender.
9 Aug 1974 Nixon resigns▲
Following the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the first United States President to resign.
13 Dec 1974–30 Apr 1975 Spring Offensive▲
North Vietnam launched probing attacks into South Vietnam, capturing Phước Long by early January 1975. With it now clear that there would be no US intervention, the North Vietnamese invaded the Central Highlands in March, decisively defeating the South Vietnamese at Ban Me Thuot. On 30 April, the People’s Army of Vietnam and Viet Cong forces entered Saigon, bringing the war in Vietnam to an end.
17 Apr 1975 Khmer Rouge captures Phnom Penh▲
Forces of the Khmer Rouge capture Phnom Penh, capital of the Khmer Republic
16 Sep 1975 Independence of Papua New Guinea▲
The Territory of Papua New Guinea was granted independence by the Commonwealth of Australia, becoming the independent state of Papua New Guinea with Chief Minister Michael Somare as Prime Minister. The country joined the United Nations on 10 October 1975.
28 Nov 1975 End of Portuguese rule in Timor▲
After winning elections in July 1975 and defeating a pro-Indonesian coup attempt in August, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) unilaterally declared the independence of East Timor from Portugal. The Portuguese, whose new liberal government had scheduled Timor’s independence for 1978, had already fled Dili in response to the August violence.
2 Dec 1975 Fall of Vientiane▲
Over May and June 1975, Pathēt Lao forces gained control of much of Kingdom of Laos, facing minimal resistance. On 2 December they captured Vientiane, capital of Laos, forcing the abdication of King Savang Vatthana and leading to the declaration of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.