In the wake of Chinese statements that they are withdrawing their troops from Vietnamese territory, there are still reports that the fighting continues.
In the wake of Chinese statements that they are withdrawing their troops from Vietnamese territory, there are still reports that the fighting continues. Vietnam, for its part, is reported to have made a conditional offer to negotiate for a peaceful settlement.
SYNOPSIS: When China announced that it was pulling out its troops on Tuesday (6 March), Vietnam said it was ordering a general mobilisation. recruiting for the Army began immediately and civilians were told to move out immediately, taking only what they could carry. The number of refugees moving out of the area were estimated to be in the tens of thousands. The major areas of concern for the civilians were Lang Son, Cau Bang, and Lao Cai.
Vietnam says there will be no negotiations until all Chinese troops are withdrawn form Vietnamese territory. But Vietnamese spokesmen said if the withdrawal announcement by Peking was designed to camouflage China's war aims the vietnamese would "stand up and fight".
Vietnam government officials in Hanoi say the Chinese failed in their drive to capture major Provincial capitals in Vietnam's northern provinces. The Vice-Chairman of the Committee for Relations with Foreign Counties, Nguyen VietNam, said that half-a-million Chinese soldiers were involved in the seventeen-day attack on Vietnam. But he said the only Provincial capital the Chinese had managed to take was Lao Cai -- close to the Chinese border. Mr. Nam said that the Chinese also wanted to capture the capitals of Cao Bang and Long Son, but, he said, Chinese and Vietnamese forces still held interlocking positions there. Mr Nam said fighting continued around Lang Son -- despite China's proposals for talks between the two countries.
Observers felt that progress towards a peaceful settlement of the border dispute might depend on whether Vietnamese forces did or did not harass Chinese troops during their announced withdrawal -- and how long the withdrawal will take. Officially released film from both sides in the dispute has made much of captured troops. One film from Vietnam showed a Chinese captive paraded before newsmen. When asked whether he knew the reason for the chinese invasion, the captive said that a long campaign had been waged in China in order to incriminate Vietnam of border violations. The outbreak of the present conflict between China and Vietnam come at a time when there is increasing concern for stability in the area.
Elsewhere in Indochina, there have been incidents along the border between Thailand and Cambodia (Kampuchea). The Pol Pot government in Cambodia was recently ousted and replaced by one backed by Vietnam. China supported the old government of Cambodia which was ruled by Prince Norodom Sihanouk. He was given sanctuary in China when he was overthrown. The Soviet Union supports Vietnam and so the age old struggle for power and influence in Indochina continues unabated as it has for hundreds of years. Despite the fact that China has ordered its troops to pull out from Vietnam, some diplomats in Peking doubt whether peace will come to the rugged border country.