For most of the Cold War, Vietnam was a place where world powers sent their armies to be defeated. The French deployed a quarter million troops to Indochina following the Second World War to maintain its colonies in the region. By 1954 France quit the war. A decade later, the Americans found themselves bogged down in Vietnam, only to withdraw ignominiously in 1972. Six years later, it would be China’s turn. In this week’s Wars You Never Knew About, we’ll take a look at the short but bloody (and often forgotten) conflict between China and Vietnam, also known as the Third Indochina War.
On February 17, 1979, 250,000 Chinese troops supported by 200 tanks poured over the border into Vietnam. The invaders entered the country at 26 points along the 500 mile frontier and quickly advanced 20 kilometers.
Beijing claimed the attack was being carried out against its former ally to protect ethnic…
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