On the banks of the River Mekong in northern Thailand, North and South Vietnam are fighting a different war to that on the battlefield.
On the banks of the River Mekong in northern Thailand, North and South Vietnam are fighting a different war to that on the battlefield. It is an ideological duel for the hearts and minds of the 40,000 Vietnamese who live in Nongkhai on the opposite bank of the Mekong from Vientiane.
The Vietnamese are refugees who fled the fighting between the French and Vietminh twenty years ago. Efforts to repatriate them have been halted because of American air raids throughout Indo-China.
They have set up their own businesses and have settled down as if they are there to stay. As most of them came from North Vietnam, their sympathies lie with Hanoi.
Many have portraits of Ho Chi Minh, the late North Vietnamese leader, hanging in their homes. They have formed themselves into a strong association dedicated to Vietnamese nationalism rather than communism. However, it is reported that one group has started a fund for their transfer back to North Vietnam so they can fight the Americans.
Saigon has set up an information centre in Hongkhai to spearhead its attempt to win the refugees over. But American officials say the South Vietnamese are fighting a losing battle.
With the presence of an estimated 2,000 Communist guerillas in Northern Thailand and the war just across the river in Laos, the refugees are a big source of worry to the anti-Communist regime in Bangkok.
All the same, there are very few signs of any kind of security in Nongkhai and traffic to and from Vientiane - where Communists operate openly - goes on with little restriction.