China’s scrappiest enemy is a familiar foe


For the fifth time in 100 years, Vietnam is facing the prospect of being involved in a war with a larger, more powerful country. The country that took on the Central Powers, Japan, France, the United States, and China is facing the possibility of conflict with a familiar foe: China.

As Beijing presses territorial claims in the South China Sea, Vietnam is arming itself for a potential air and sea confrontation with its larger neighbor. Despite the difference in size between the two nations, particularly in terms of military power, Vietnam is not backing down.

Vietnam went to war five times during the 20th century. In World War I, Vietnamese troops served on Europe’s Western Front as part of France’s colonial forces. Vietnamese troops fought Japanese occupation forces in World War II, the French and American military between 1945 and 1972, and, briefly, China in 1979.

Perhaps improbably, Vietnam won — or avoided losing — every time.

China and Vietnam are two neighbors that historically do not get along. Vietnam has suffered political, military, and cultural domination from China for thousands of years.


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