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Session 22: Lips and Teeth: Border Relations Between China and Vietnam from 1945 to the Present





Organizer and Chair: Brantly Womack, University of Virginia
Discussants: William S. Turley, Southern Illinois University; Alexander Woodside, University of British Columbia

Although relations between China and Vietnam are usually discussed in terms of diplomacy and security, the most tangible effects of the relationship-whether friendly, hostile, or normal-are felt at the border. This panel will cover the range of border relations between China and Vietnam since the Second World War, beginning with commercial relations in the late 1940s, then considering the effects on border areas of China's patronage in the 1960s, hostility in the 1980s and the reemergence of border trade in the 1990s. The final paper will consider current efforts at cooperative border projects. All three papers are based on unusual access to relevant sources.
Since the papers will provide a long empirical thread, the commentators will be asked to draw general lessons concerning the relationship between China and Vietnam before turning to audience discussion. There are few scholars as appropriate for this task as William Turley and Alexander Woodside.

Before Recognition: Reflections on the DRV's Early Wartime Trade with China (1945-1950)
Christopher Goscha, Ecole des Hautes Etudes

If most studies of 20th century Sino-Vietnamese border relations take as their starting point the People's Republic of China's diplomatic recognition of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in 1950, in this paper I would like to show that the economics of the Franco-Vietnamese war had already forced the DRV to renew its ancient trading contacts with southern China since 1945.
Focusing on the 1945-1950 period, my paper is divided into three parts. First, I place this commerce in the context of political and military developments in China and the war between the French and the Vietnamese in Indochina. I then focus in greater detail on the geography and the structures of this Sino-Vietnamese war trade-the major trading zones, the diverse traders, the routes, the markets, the products and some tonnages. Lastly, I highlight the possible merits of analyzing the DRV's clandestine trade with southern China in terms of a regional perspective by comparing this northern commerce to the DRV's internal trade with French-controlled zones and overseas Chinese (Hua Qiao) markets and in comparison with southern Vietnamese external exchanges with Southeast Asian markets. This paper draws upon Vietnamese and French sources.

The Effects of Changing Sino-Vietnamese Relations on the Economy of Vietnam's Border Provinces, 1960-1990
Christopher Roper, University of Virginia

From closest of allies in the 1960s, the Sino-Vietnamese relationship deteriorated to a limited war by the end of the 1970s. After a decade of mutual suspicion and hostility, the two countries tentatively re-established political and economic ties at the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s. The consequences of this changing relationship are not merely political but are clearly evident at the local level. This paper examines the effects of the evolving Sino-Vietnamese relationship on the local economies of Vietnam's northern border provinces. Given their immediate proximity to China, these provinces should be the most sensitive to changes in the two countries' relationship. The paper explores the regional economy of Vietnam's northernmost provinces from the 1960s into the 1990s in light of its relations with China, using national data to establish a trend and local data of one border province in particular, Lai Chau, for specific examples.



Border Cooperation Between China and Vietnam in the 1990s
Gu Xiaosong, Guangxi Academy of Social Science

Based on a review of cooperative projects between China and Vietnam, especially those between the cities of Dongxing and Mong Cai, this paper will explore the interests, incentives and difficulties of border cooperation. Is cooperation driven by national policy, or does national policy constrain local enthusiasm? To what extent does the availability of third-party capital provide an incentive? What are the similarities and differences in interests and policies between China and Vietnam?
Besides being one of China's top experts on Vietnam's political economy, Professor Gu was the Vice-Director of the Dongxing Economic Development Zone for three years.





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