Exactly a month after the Chinese military incursions into Vietnam, tension in Indochina now centres on Laos.
Exactly a month after the Chinese military incursions into Vietnam, tension in Indochina now centres on Laos. China has announced complete troop withdrawal from Vietnamese territory, and a time and place for negotiations have been decided.
SYNOPSIS: Now Laos, a landlocked country, bordering on China and Vietnam, appears to have been drawn into the dispute. As tension within the country mounts, massive anti-Chinese rallies were staged in Laos, following reports that heavy concentrations of Chinese troops are gathering on the border. About ten thousand people attended this rally in Vientiane. Earlier in the week soldiers and workers in the border province of Phong Saly vowed they would resist any invasion.
At one time the Vientiane government was careful not to antagonise Peking, but they have now accused China of intruding on Laotian territory. Vietnam, which has been developing a much closer relationship with Laos, has echoed these accusations and reprinted in full the latest protest note from the Laotian Foreign Ministry to China.
The note, which was handed to the Chinese ambassador in Vientiane, said that China has adopted an arrogant attitude by continuing to interfere in the internal affairs of Laos.
The note, the strongest sent to China since relations started to deteriorate, called on the Chinese to withdraw their armed forces who have infiltrated into Laos and also road construction brigades and Chinese experts.
Diplomatic sources estimate that China had up to one thousand workers on the construction brigades that had been working in the Laotian provinces of Phong Saly and Oudomsai. It is alleged that China sent two battalions into Laos on the 7th of March. Three days later Chinese troops arrested two Laotian cadres who were sent to contact the Chinese authorities about the withdrawal of Chinese troops.
Peking has criticised Laos for spreading "fantastic fabrications" about Chinese troop deployment on its border and of following an "anti-China" policy.