News / Asia

Vietnam Muted Ahead of Border War Anniversary

FILE - Chinese business women walk near old border marker 53 between China's Guangxi and Vietnam's Cao Bang province.FILE - Chinese business women walk near old border marker 53 between China's Guangxi and Vietnam's Cao Bang province.
FILE - Chinese business women walk near old border marker 53 between China's Guangxi and Vietnam's Cao Bang province.
FILE - Chinese business women walk near old border marker 53 between China's Guangxi and Vietnam's Cao Bang province.
Vietnamese media have gone silent prior to the 35th anniversary of the Sino-Vietnamese border war that once strained relations between the two neighboring countries.
A senior editor in Vietnam, who wishes to remain anonymous, told VOA’s Vietnamese service that his newspaper received ‘confidential’ instructions from a propaganda watchdog, tightly restricting coverage of the anniversary of the bloody conflict. 
“Many dailies have prepared materials for the commemoration of the event, which happened over three decades ago, but they are now in a dilemma,” the unnamed source said.
China’s invasion of Vietnam’s northernmost provinces on February 17, 1979 claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides. 
Then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping ordered the invasion on China's smaller neighbor after Hanoi brought troops into Cambodia to topple the reign of the China-backed Khmer Rouge.
In a recent speech in Washington, Vietnam's ambassador to the United States, Nguyen Quoc Cuong, said Hanoi wants to maintain a good relationship with Beijing, like all of the other countries in the region.
“We have a comprehensive strategic partnership with China," he said. "China is [the] No. 1 trading partner with Vietnam, but having said that, I must say that we still have very different views on the claims [over the] South China Sea, [which] we call the East Sea issue.”
Emeritus Professor Carlyle Thayer of Australia's University of New South Wales told VOA's Vietnamese service that Hanoi does not want "to draw attention to the fact of China as an aggressor."
“Nationalism is a double-edged sword," he said. "It can promote national unity, but on other hand, it can be directed against China as an enemy from 1979 that invaded and attacked Vietnam, and it suits both countries to keep a big gaping hole in their history by skipping over this period, and not trying to explain what occurred.”
Nationalist sentiment fueled by simmering tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea is running high in Vietnam.
Dozens of anti-China activists were quickly dispersed last month when they gathered in Hanoi to mark the 40th anniversary of a bloody naval battle between then-South Vietnam and China over the Paracel Islands in the disputed sea.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

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Comment Sorting
by: Wagdog from: US
February 13, 2014 11:12 AM
If not now then when ?
The current regime freely allows entire Vietnamese and the rest of the World officially read about the war 1979 between China and Vietnam on legal document. Life Magazine posted the biggest lost of the war lean on China and VietNam lost so many kilometer of land to China. Not only that Vietnam also designate the cemetery to honor Chinese death soldier on Vietnam territory in Northern Vietnam.

The history repeat itself that Vietnam lost the territory as Quang Dong and and Quang Tay to China in the past and now again. Tiny country like Israel can survive among angry Middle Eastern why can Viet Nam. All it takes just a good leader and the current regime don't have one.
In Response

by: mary hong from: usa
February 14, 2014 9:04 AM
As of this morning, I have read several on-line papers in Vietnamese, by government sponsored media outlets and found short mentions as well as in-depth series on the 1979 war against China. They all used words such as aggressor China, evil China, betrayal China, ugly friend from the north, traditional invader...We can criticize Vietnam with obvious flaws and opportunities for improvement, but making up stories and/or day-dreaming won't help

by: Taichi Robinhood
February 12, 2014 7:03 PM
There is no reason for the neighbors not to be friendly.

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