Beijing, Hanoi, and the Struggle for Indochina.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE WASHINGTON DC OFFICE OF EXTERNAL RESEARCH
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During the Vietnam War, perceptions of Southeast Asia in the United States were shaped primarily through the prism of the Cold War. The conflict in Indochina was viewed essentially as a struggle between the forces of international communism and the Free World, and a victory for the revolutionary forces in Vietnam could lead to the spread of the red tide throughout mainland Southeast Asia. The course of event since the end of the war has demonstrated the error of such assumptions. The faultlines of conflict in postwar Southeast Asia have appeared to reflect more primordial historical factors, as deepseated national rivalries between Cambodia and Vietnam, and between Vietnam and China, have led to violent clashes and a realighment of forces in the region. The most visible source of conflict in contemporary Southeast Asia, of course, is the dispute over Cambodia, an issue which has divided the region into two hostile blocs representing the Indochinese states led by Vietnam and the China-ASEAN alliance. At the root of the conflict over Cambodia, however, is the bitter rivalry between China and Vietnam over influence in Cambodia and neighboring Laos, both of which are not locked in an intimate special relationship with Hanoi.
- Government and Political Science