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Unprecedented in scale and casualties, the brief Sino-Vietnamese war in 1979 was the bloodiest military conflict in the fraternal communist world. Why did the People's Republic of China and Vietnam, two "comrades and brothers," engage in such a tragic war? This is one of the central questions Professor Chen attempts to answer in this in-depth discussion of that war-from its origins to its current international implications.
The author offers an important framework for the analysis of Chinese military-diplomatic policy, traces the causes that led to the outbreak of the war, examines the process of the war decisionmaking in Beijing, explains why the war was called "Deng Xiaoping's War," and observes the development of the reactions of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the ASEAN nations. Professor Chen's discussion of the effect of the Vietnam War's legacy on the Sin-Vietnamese struggle adds to the depth of the analysis. Professor Chen also broadly explores the questions: Did aid from the PRC during the three decades from 1949 to 1978 assist or betray the Vietnamese revolution? How significant were the Kampuchean and Soviet factors in Beijing's decision on war against Vietnam? How did the United States, China and other countries help to resettle the Indochinese refugees? What is the future for Kampuchea? What is the possibility of Sino-Vietnamese normalization? And what is the Soviet status versus the U.S. position in the Asian-Pacific region?
In addition to researching official and private documents to bring light to this shadowy topic, Professor Chen conducted numerous interviews with Asian personnel, ranging from Prince Norodom Sihanouk to individual "boat people." He also made use of monitored radio broadcasts from communist and noncommunist countries.
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King C. Chen, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, is also author of the definitive study Vietnam and China, 1938–1954 (Princeton University Press, 1969), as well as several books on the foreign policy of the PRC.
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