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View Diary: The US wades into the South China Sea: A Rising Hegemon Floats All Boats (44 comments)

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  •  Although China's power (5+ / 0-) surely enough to dominate its local neighbors, Vietnam especially.

    •  Hmm (5+ / 0-)

      I think that is pretty debatable.  Certainly, Chinese power has grown since the Vietnamese kicked their ass 30 years ago, but geographical constraints still make it very difficult for China to project power by land, and China's power projection ability by sea is still quite limited.

      China is much stronger than Vietnam, but that raises the question of what does it mean to "dominate."  In a war over an island, China would certainly win.  If China wanted to invade Vietnam, that invasion would very likely end in disaster.

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 07:28:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt it will come to a land war. (4+ / 0-)

        But a sea war would definitely be a Chinese victory. Vietnam's hope would lie in internationalizing the conflict...

      •  That seems hard to believe (0+ / 0-)

        If China wanted to invade Vietnam, that invasion would very likely end in disaster.

        Why do you think that?

        China has approximately a 50 to 1 manpower advantage over Vietnam, a common border, and the ability to defend its own territory and airspace will totally devastating Vietnam's logistics, air, and naval assets.

        Vietnam can make China pay a price but if China is willing to pay that price and the US does not step in to save Vietnam it is hard to imagine Vietnam repelling a serious Chinese invasion.

        •  China lost back around 1980 (1+ / 0-)
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          the last time China and Vietnam had a border row.

          •  Hard to say if that's true (0+ / 0-)


            Both China and Vietnam claimed victory in the last of the Indochina Wars of the twentieth century; however, since Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989 it can be said that the PRC failed to achieve the goal of dissuading Vietnam from involvement in Cambodia. However, China achieved its strategic objective of reducing the offensive capability of Vietnam along the Sino-Vietnam border by implementing a scorched earth policy. China also achieved another strategic objective of demonstrating to its Cold War foe, the Soviet Union, that they were unable to protect their Vietnamese ally

            Who you believe won depends on whether you believe that China had limited strategic objectives that it achieved before withdrawal or wanted to go all the way but could not.

            In addition, the Soviets were the wild card - no one knew how far the Chinese could go before they would intervene.  

            It is indisputable both that the Chinese suffered fewer casualties than the Vietnamese and that they had the capacity to accept far higher casualties if they decided that destroying Vietnam was necessary.

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