Bordering a hostile, ambitious neighbor, the trouble seems to be endless.
China is the world’s most populous country, with a population of over 1.38 billion. It covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (the world’s second-largest country by land area, second only to Russia). Compare to China, Vietnam with the population of 94.5 million and the area 331,210 sq. km, is a tiny David beside the giant Goliath 30 times larger in area and 15 times more populous.
At the length of its 4000 years of history, generations of (the) Vietnamese have continuously struggled to survive (the) harsh nature as well as the Chinese aggressions from the North.
1.- A brief history of Vietnam and China Conflicts:
The Yellow River was the cradle of Chinese civilization, although its cultures originated at various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys millennia ago.
In the early civilization, Southern region of China – consisting of today provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi – was the cradle of 100 tribes that shared the same ethnic Viet (Bach Viet). In about 21st century BC, Hoang Ti, the leader of a tribe from West of Yangtze River invaded and defeated the Viets, beginning the era of “Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors”. Chinese early dynasties ruled the plains of the Yellow River and had not expanded to the South region until the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD)
Two of the surviving tribes, Au Viet and Lac Viet were united by King Hung who became the founding father of Vietnam. The Hung Dynasty ruled the kingdom “Au Lac” from 2879 to 258 BC.
Vietnam, during the Hung Dynasty, expanded to the South (Tonkin Delta); the Viets then mixed with the aborigines who are believed to have migrated from the islands of Indonesia.
1.2.- Total Chinese domination: nearly 1000 years.
The first failed attempt to conquer Vietnam was made by the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC)
At the end of the Warring States period, Shi Huang Ti defeated the other six warring states and founded a reunified empire of Qin. He then sent his general Trieu Da to conquer the South. Trieu Da defeated King An Duong Vuong of Au Lac Kingdom. He changed the name Au Lac to Nam Viet and cut all ties with the Qin Empire. Vietnamese people considered this period independent from (the) China.
The first Chinese domination began in 111 BC and lasted 150 years consecutively by the Chinese kingdoms of Han, Eastern Wu and Liang.
Vietnam had a brief independence when the Sisters Trung overthrew the Han domination and declared independence until being defeated.
The 2nd domination (43 – 544) The Later Han Dynasty occupied Vietnam again in 43 AD. From this time on, Vietnam was dominated on and off until 544 AD when Ly Bi defeated the army of Liang and renamed the state as Van Xuan. His reign lasted 58 years.
The 3rd domination (602-938) during the Sui, Tang, and Southern Han dynasties.
1.3.- China’s Invasions after Vietnam gained independence since 937.
In 937, King Ngo Quyen defeated the Southern Han’s fleet on Bach Dang River, declared the independence of Vietnam that lasted until the French occupation in 1884.
During this period of time, China on and off invaded Vietnam many times but was defeated thanked to the firm determination of the Vietnamese people.
In 979, taking advantage of the weakness of Vietnamese child king Dinh Toan, Sung Dynasty (China) sent troops to invade Vietnam but was defeated by General Le Hoan who self-proclaimed Dai Hanh Emperor.
Upon learning that China had plotted an invasion, General Ly Thuong Kiet launched a surprise attack and destroyed Chinese Sung military installations in three Chinese southern provinces. Later, he defeated the Chinese incursion on Nhu Nguyet River (1076)
After conquering China, Ogedei Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty in China. He and his successor Kubilai Khan attempted to invade Vietnam three times in 1258, 1285, and 1287 but were defeated by the great General Tran Hung Dao. The last decisive battle was on Bach Dang River. (Image: The Battle of Bach Dang River)
In 1407: Chinese Ming Dynasty occupied Vietnam and was defeated 10 years later by King Le Loi.
In 1789: Emperor Quang Trung defeated the Chinese strong army of 300,000 men at Dong Da. It was the last encounter between China and Vietnam until 1974 when Chinese and South Vietnamese Naval warships battled over the Spratlys dispute.
1.4.- China’s Involvement in Vietnam Wars
During the first Indochina War (1946-1954) and the Vietnam War (1960-1975), the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) relied heavily on supports from Communist China. Nguyen Ai Quoc aka Ho Chi Minh (himself) was himself, a soldier in the Chinese People’s Army.
According to the information (circulated) circulating on (the) internet, (some?) Taiwanese scholar “Ho Tuan Hung” disclosed that after the secret death of Nguyen Ai Quoc, the Chinese substituted him with a Chinese (man as) imposter and renamed him Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh founded the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1930 in the Chinese Province of Guangdong.
Ho’s army could not win the Dien Bien Phu battle without Chinese massive military assistance and advice, even manpower. Later, China championed the Geneva Accord that divided Vietnam in 1954. Chinese advisors ordered Ho Chi Minh in every details how to execute important campaigns such as the Land Reform that cost the lives of tens of thousands peasants in 1953-1956. This occurred exactly the same way as the Land Reform in China (1946 – 1953). Vietnam under Communist rule became subordinate to China. In 1959, Ho Chi Minh and Pham Van Dong (then Prime Minister) signed an official letter recognizing China’s claims on the Paracels and Spratlys.
A report of the China News Service disclosed that China sent 320,000 combat troops to Vietnam to fight against U.S. forces and their South Vietnamese allies during the 1960s. It also spent over 20 billion dollars to support the North Vietnamese regular army and the Viet Cong. According to “The History of the People’s Republic of China,” published by the official State Archives Publishing House, more than 4,000 Chinese soldiers were killed in the war.
When the war ended, China considered its enormous military aids a debt that Vietnamese Communist must repay (reimburse?) by submitting its sovereignty.
In 1974, China sent its fleet to attack South Vietnamese Navy and occupied most of the Paracel Islands. North Vietnam Communists kept their mouth shut and later explained it would be better that the islands fell to China than to the South Vietnamese government.
In an official letter to the Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai on September 14, 1958, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong expressed his government’s agreement to the China’s “September 4, 1958” Declaration claiming its ownership over the waters that included the islands.
On the World Map printed and published by the office of Vietnamese Prime Minister’s Survey and Mapping Department (May 1972), Paracel and Spratly were named as Chinese Xishia and Nansha (figure )
Being angry at the tendency of Vietnamese Communists leaning toward the Soviet Union and the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, China attacked six Vietnamese border provinces in 1979 which cost tens of thousands of lives on both sides. The war was so fierce and costly that Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping later vowed he would never repeat the mistake again.
In 1988, Chinese Navy suddenly attacked and occupied several islands of Spratlys. Receiving orders not to fight back, the miserable (unfortunate?) Vietnamese coastguard ships and seamen became easy targets for the Chinese gunmen.
From then on, China acted as they are master of the waters. They hunted and sank hundreds of Vietnamese fishing boats. The Vietnamese authorities had neither action to protect their people, nor making any objection to the killing of Vietnamese fishermen and their boats sunk by the Chinese Navy.
2.- The Beginning of a New Colonization
In his 82 page Memoirs, (Mr.) Tran Quang Co, former Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister, member of the Vietnamese Communist Central Committee, disclosed that the leaders of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) had been summoned to secretly meet with leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to discuss the normalization of Sino-Vietnam relationship. China asked Vietnam to fire (the) Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach before the meeting occurred.
The conference took place in Chengdu (capital city of Sichuan, China) in September, 1990 with attendees from Vietnam: Nguyen Van Linh (General Secretary of VCP from 1986-1991), Pham Van Dong (Vietnam Prime Minister), Do Muoi (Member of VCP Politburo, General Secretary of VCP from 1991-1997), Hoang Bich Son (VCP Chairman of Foreign Affairs), Dinh Nho Liem (Deputy Foreign Minister), Hong Ha (VCP Central Committee). From China: Jiang Zemin (General Secretary of CCP), Li Peng (Chinese Prime Minister). Although the Chinese leaders’ intention was to force Vietnam to agree with their solution to resolve the Cambodian conflict, another target was to tighten Vietnam into the grips of China in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies. For the last 25 years, despite (the) requests from many high ranking officials, the VCP has not publicized the details of the Chengdu Conference. Rumor had it that Vietnam’s sovereignty was now submitted to China. The silence of the VCP leaders reinforced that rumor. A Political Commentator Le P.T.(?) wrote “I feel worried about the destiny of our country … as the VCP kept ( in) secret the outcomes of Chengdu Conference.”
3.- From then on, Vietnam became more and more submissive to China.
In the following years after the Chengdu event, Vietnam ceded thousands of square kilometers of land along the border with China. The border markers were moved deeper into the south. The historic “Nam Quan Gate” and “Ban Gioc Fall” now stand inside China territory
Vietnamese authorities and mass media ceased to discuss about the 1979 Border War. The War Monuments and plaques that honored the war casualties were removed or destroyed. Instead, multiple monuments were erected to honor Chinese soldiers on the soil where the battle occurred. Vietnam banned all activities to commemorate their war heroes.
Vietnam revised its 1980 Constitution and erased the first paragraph condemning “the Chauvinist Chinese Aggression”. In the 1992 Constitution, there were no more anti-China phrases.
Vietnam closed their eyes when China continuously built military bases on the disputed islands; Chinese Navy patrols East Vietnam waters, sinking Vietnamese fishing boats and killing fishermen while Vietnam did nothing to protect its citizens.
China moved the Hai Yang oil rig HD-981 in Vietnam waters close to the Paracel Islands. This sparked a storm of protests in Vietnam, but the Vietnamese government kept their mouth shut.
Vietnam leaves the border open to Chinese products and people to massively pour in.
Vietnam admitted tens of thousands of Chinese young men to work in numerous Chinese owned plants and factories throughout Vietnam territory.
Vietnam allowed Chinese to build large China towns in big cities.
The most dangerous thing is allowing China to mine bauxite ore in Central Vietnam highlands, a region considered by military experts as a very crucial strategic point . It is like the Trojan horse in the heart of Vietnam. The bauxite mine also causes a near future destruction of environment that may seriously affect millions of people.
In recent years, the Vietnamese Education Department published textbooks for children featuring the images of Chinese life, landscapes, culture… Chinese language became mandatory in schools from elementary up. In the late 2017, a Vietnamese scholar, Mr. Bui Hien, published series of articles in which he suggested some new consonants to replace the existing ones used in Vietnamese language. His suggested consonants are derived from the method to write Chinese characters in western alphabets.
We can find in the text book “Geography” for 9th graders, published by “Nhà xuất bản Giáo dục Việt Nam” an article introducing the People’s Republic of China saying “The islands of Nansha, Xishia to Hai Nan, Taiwan, Banh Ho, Chau Son… form an arc as (the) a wall to defend China mainland.” (Từ các đảo Nam Sa, Tây Sa đến đảo Hải Nam, đảo Đài Loan, các đảo Bành Hồ, quần đảo Châu Sơn…, các đảo này có hình vòng cung, tạo thành bức ‘Trường Thành’ bảo vệ Trung Quốc đại lục”.) (Nansha, Xishia are the Paracel and Spratly islands of Vietnam)
Red lanterns, billboards, slogans in Chinese characters can be seen almost everywhere in Vietnam.
Vietnam persecutes and imprisons activists who protest against Chinese heavy influence in all aspects of life in Vietnam and who want to warn their compatriots of an imminent danger (of Chinese domination) from China.
China has been Vietnam’s largest trade partner. According to statistics from the Vietnam Customs, in 2013, total turnover reached $50.21 billion, up 22 percent year-on-year.(?)
In 2013, Vietnam spent $36.95 billion for imports from China (28% of total import value), while it exported some $13.26 billion worth of goods to China (10% of total export value).
Vietnam’s trade deficit with China in 2013 was $23.7 billion (an increase of 44.5% compared to 2012). The trade was expected to reach $60 billion in the following year.
Business along the border has been flourishing. Officials in Lang Son Province say close to $3 billion in agricultural and electronic goods are traded every year with China.
Chinese products are accounted for about 80% of goods in Vietnam markets. The great majority of them are of bad quality or counterfeit.
Food poisoning has become more and more widespread. Chinese made fake rice, noodle, seafood, and fruits or used chemical substances to make them look good to cheat customers.
Three months before the term of Vietnam National Assembly ends, the VCP 12th National Congress hastily appointed the top leaders of the nation whom positions – according to the Constitution – must be elected by the upcoming National Assembly. It’s obviously understood that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trọng and his pro-China entourage wanted to get rid of the pro-Western gang led by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung prior to the visit of President Obama. By this malicious act, Trong would have free hands to move forward into Chinese domination.
For the length of history, China has claimed the territories of Manchuria, Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Vietnam. On its national flag, the big 5-point star represents the Hans (the major ethnic in China); the other smaller four represent Manchurians, Mongolians, Uighurs (Xinjiang), Tibetans. The Hans always look down (consider?) other ethnics as inferior and barbarous. To them, those people must be dominated and civilized by the Han culture. When the Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao visited Vietnam on October 21, 2005, (the) Vietnamese children greeted him waving the red flag with one big star surrounded by five small stars. Does this imply that the fifth small star would represent Vietnam in the near future?
4.- Vietnamese are no Chinese!
From anthropology and ethnology approaches, Vietnamese people are totally different from the Chinese. Like many other countries, Vietnam is willing to adopt the essential parts of other cultures to enrich its own – Chinese culture is no exemption. Since Chinese colonization of Vietnam lasted for 1000 years, it’s explicable that some aspects of Chinese culture have blended in Vietnamese life style.
Despite the brutal policies in a thousand years of Chinese colonialism – which China tried very hard to assimilate Vietnamese people into Chinese culture – Vietnam still maintains its distinct culture and language. The differences can be easily seen in many aspects of life between Vietnamese and Chinese societies.
Vietnam has multiple times won victories against the mighty Chinese army. Bordering a hostile, ambitious, giant China, Vietnamese kings always realized the threat of extinction. For a millennium, they learned how to exercise the soft and flexible foreign policies to survive.
Binding with China in the utopic Communism, the VCP leaders have given up the nation sovereignty for their absolute power and high privileges. Vietnam needs radical changes in its political system to gain (the) support from (the) international community. The Americans have extended their hands but the Vietnamese Communists still hesitate fearing of their Chinese masters. They may also fear for their future if a change occurs in real democratic approach.
We are (very) afraid that the threat of Chinese colonization is very clear and imminent. Vietnamese people have missed at least two opportunities to overthrow the dictatorship. One is during the fall of the Soviet Union and its Easter European bloc, the other is during the 2011 Arab Spring in North Africa and Middle East.
If bad thing happens, the State of Vietnam will cease to exist, the Vietnamese people will be exterminated, and the Chinese expansion will not stop until the whole South East Asia become Chinese colony.
We have only one hope and believe in the steadfast will of ninety million people who inherited the traditional patriotism from our forefathers.
We are also asking the international community for strong support to any movement (up rising?) in Vietnam. Please, don’t let Vietnam become another Tibet!