What If? (China invades Vietnam edition)
Vietnam has formally protested to China over so-called “invasion plans” appearing on mainland websites that purport to detail the complete military occupation of the country by China.
Hanoi has twice summoned senior Chinese diplomats to voice its concerns over the material which, while unsourced and apparently unofficial, has alarmed diplomatic and military elites in the Vietnamese capital after appearing repeatedly over the past month.
The supposed plans detail a 31-day invasion, starting with five days of missile strikes from land, sea and air and climaxing in an invasion involving 310,000 troops sweeping into Vietnam from Yunnan , Guangxi and the South China Sea. The electronic jamming of Vietnamese command and communications centres is mentioned, along with the blocking of sea lanes in the South China Sea.
My experience of the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based print and online newspaper, has been that it may not be the most reliable source but that it certainly isn’t anti-Beijing.
The Christian Science Monitor has more:
Once united by their communist ideology, relations between Vietnam and China cooled in the 1970s, particularly when Vietnam invaded Cambodia in late 1978 to oust the Beijing-backed Khmer Rouge regime. Partly in retaliation, China invaded Vietnam a few months later, as detailed by Global Security. The two sides fought a nasty one-month border war that left tens of thousands dead before Beijing retreated. Border clashes continued throughout the 1980s.
That history helps explain Vietnam’s sensitivity to public “invasion plans” on Chinese websites, no matter how bogus they might be.
Now I’m sure the United States has plans for all sorts of contingencies including invasions of Canada or Mexico, it would be highly embarrassing if the details came out, and this certainly is embarrassing. But it does provide interesting fodder for speculation.
What should the U. S. response be to such an action? I can see several:
- Who cares?
- Cluck our tongues but acknowledge that regional powers have the de facto right to do pretty much what they want within their spheres of influence cf. Russia
- Bring the matter before the UNSC (where China has a veto)
- Issue a stern demarche, otherwise not much
- Leap to Vietnam’s defense
You be the president. What do we do?