Viet Cong Requested Red China's Aid

Around 1964, when Viet Cong decided to escalate the war in South Vietnam by launching battles at regimental and divisional levels, they anticipated that the Americans would respond in kind by pouring in troops to directly engage in the conflict. Following are reports of some of the meetings in Peking between Red China's leaders on one side - Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping - and Viet Cong's leaders on the other side - Ho Chi Minh, Pham Van Dong, Le Duan, Vo Nguyen Giap, Van Tien Dung. Types of aid requested by the Viet Cong were mentioned specifically in terms of the number of troops - 100 thousands, 500 thousands, … -, and the units - engineer, air force, artillery, anti-aircraft , …-. Excerpts are taken from Vietnam War, 1961-1975..

Discussion between Mao Zedong and Pham Van Dong
Date: 10/05/1964
Description: Zedong advises Pham Van Dong on how to handle war in South Vietnam and protection of North Vietnam.

Mao Zedong: According to Comrade Le Duan,3 you had the plan to dispatch a division [to the South]. Probably you have not dispatched that division yet4. When should you dispatch it, the timing is important. Whether or not the United States will attack the North, it has not yet made the decision. Now, it [the U.S.] is not even in a position to resolve the problem in South Vietnam. If it attacks the North, [it may need to] fight for one hundred years, and its legs will be trapped there. Therefore, it needs to consider carefully. The Americans have made all kinds of scary statements. They claim that they will run after [you], and will chase into your country, and that they will attack our air force. In my opinion, the meaning of these words is that they do not want us to fight a big war, and that [they do not want] our air force to attack their warships. If [we] do not attack their warships, they will not run after you. Isn't this what they mean? The Americans have something to hide.

Pham Van Dong: This is also our thinking. The United States is facing many difficulties, and it is not easy for it to expand the war. Therefore, our consideration is that we should try to restrict the war in South Vietnam to the sphere of special war, and should try to defeat the enemy within the sphere of special war. We should try our best not to let the U.S. imperialists turn the war in South Vietnam into a limited war, and try our best not to let the war be expanded to North Vietnam. We must adopt a very skillful strategy, and should not provoke it [the U.S.]. Our Politburo has made a decision on this matter, and today I am reporting it to Chairman Mao. We believe that this is workable.

Mao Zedong: Yes.

Pham Van Dong: If the United States dares to start a limited war, we will fight it, and will win it.

Mao Zedong: Yes, you can win it5. The South Vietnamese [puppet regime] has several hundred thousand troops. You can fight against them, you can eliminate half of them, and you can eliminate all of them. To fulfill these tasks is more than possible. It is impossible for the United States to send many troops to South Vietnam. The Americans altogether have 18 army divisions. They have to keep half of these divisions, i.e., nine of them, at home, and can send abroad the other nine divisions. Among these divisions, half are in Europe, and half are in the Asian-Pacific region. And they have stationed more divisions in Asia [than elsewhere in the region], namely, three divisions. One [is] in South Korea, one in Hawaii, and the third one in [original not clear]. They also placed fewer than one division of marine corps in Okinawa in Japan. Now all American troops in South Vietnam belong to the navy, and they are units under the navy system. As far as the American navy is concerned, they have put more ships in the Western Pacific than in Europe. In the Mediterranean, there is the Sixth Fleet; here [in the Pacific] is the Seventh Fleet. They have deployed four aircraft carriers near you, but they have been scared away by you.


Mao Zedong: If the Americans dare to take the risk to bring the war to the North, how should the invasion be dealt with? I have discussed this issue with Comrade Le Duan. [First], of course, it is necessary to construct defensive works along the coast. The best way is to construct defensive works like the ones [we had constructed] during the Korean War, so that you may prevent the enemy from entering the inner land. Second, however, if the Americans are determined to invade the inner land, you may allow them to do so. You should pay attention to your strategy. You must not engage your main force in a head-to-head confrontation with them, and must well maintain your main force. My opinion is that so long as the green mountain is there, how can you ever lack firewood?

Pham Van Dong: Comrade Le Duan has reported Chairman Mao's opinions to our Central Committee. We have conducted an overall review of the situations in the South and the North, and our opinion is the same as that of Chairman Mao's. In South Vietnam, we should actively fight [the enemy]; and in North Vietnam, we should be prepared [for the enemy to escalate the war]. But we should also be cautious.

Mao Zedong: Our opinions are identical. Some other people say that we are belligerent. As a matter of fact, we are cautious. But it is not totally without ground to say [that we are belligerent].

Discussion between Liu Shaoqi and Le Duan
Date: 04/08/1965
Description: China offers military services to Vietnam, on the condition that Vietnam invites them first; Vietnam accepts.

Le Duan: We want some volunteer pilots, volunteers soldiers…and other volunteers, including road and bridge engineering units.

Liu Shaoqi: It is our policy that we will do our best to support you. We will offer whatever you are in need of and we are in a position to offer…If you do not invite us, we will not come; and if you invite one unit of our troops, we will send that unit to you. The initiative will be completely yours.

Le Duan: We want the Chinese volunteer pilots to play a role in four respects: (1) to restrict American bombing to areas south of the 20th or 19th parallels; (2) to defend the safety of Hanoi; (3) to defend several main transportation lines; and (4) to raise the morale of the Vietnamese people.

Discussion between Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh
Date: 05/16/1965
Description: Ho Chi Minh asks Mao Zedong for help to build roads along the border to South Vietnam; Mao agrees.

President Ho: We should try to build new roads. We have had discussions with Comrade Tao Zhu1 on this issue. If China is able to help us build some roads in the North, near the border with China, we will send the forces reserved for this job to the South.

Mao Zedong: It's a good policy.

Tao Zhu: I have reported it over the phone to Comrade Zhou Enlai. He said that China could do it.

President Ho: First of all, we need China to help us build 6 roads from the border areas. These roads run south through our rear. And in the future they will be connected to the front. At present, we have 30 thousand people building these roads. If China helps us, those people will be sent to the South. At the same time we have to help Lao comrades to build roads from Samneua to Xiengkhoang and then from Xiengkhoang to Lower Laos, and to the South of Vietnam.

Mao Zedong: Because we will fight large-scale battles in the future, it will be good if we also build roads to Thailand…

President Ho: If Chairman Mao agrees that China will help us, we will send our people to the South.

Mao Zedong: We accept your order. We will do it. There is no problem.

[Notes: In Hanoi on April 13, Tao Zhu had told Ho that "our Party Central Committee and Chairman Mao have held our four border provinces responsible for being the immediate rear for Vietnam. Of course, China as a whole is the rear for Vietnam. But these four provinces represent the immediate one."]

Discussion between Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong
Date: 10/09/1965
Description: Zhou Enlai addresses Pham Van Dong, not supporting the idea of Soviet volunteers entering Vietnam and discussing Cambodian involvement in the war.

Zhou Enlai: …During the time Khrushchev was in power, the Soviets could not divide us because Khrushchev did not help you much. The Soviets are now assisting you. But their help is not sincere. The US likes this very much. I want to tell you my opinion. It will be better without the Soviet aid. This may be an ultra leftist opinion. Yet, it is mine, not the CCP Central Committee's.

…Now, the problem of international volunteers going to Vietnam is very complicated. But as you have mentioned this problem we will discuss it and then you can make your decision.

As you have asked for my opinion, I would like to tell you the following: I do not support the idea of Soviet volunteers going to Vietnam, nor [do I support] Soviet aid to Vietnam. I think it will be better without it. It is my own opinion, not the opinion of the Party Central Committee. Comrades Peng Zhen and Luo Ruiqing2 who are present here today also agree with me.

[As to] Vietnam, we always want to help. In our mind, our thoughts, we never think of selling out Vietnam. But we are always afraid of the revisionists standing between us.3

Zhou Enlai: …The war has been expanded to North Vietnam. It is, therefore, impossible for Laos and Cambodia not to get involved. Sihanouk understands it. When we were on a sightseeing tour on the Yangtze, I asked him how he would deal with the situation and whether he needed weapons. At present, China has provided Cambodia with 28,000 pieces of weapons. Sihanouk told me that this amount was enough to equip Cambodian regular and provincial forces and that all US weapons have been replaced.

I also asked him whether he needed more weapons. Sihanouk replied that because he could not afford to increase the number of troops, the weapons were enough. He only asked for anti-aircraft artillery and anti-tank weapons.

This is what he replied to my questions about weapons. He also added that if war broke out, he would leave Phnom Penh for the countryside where he had already built up bases. Last year, President Liu [Shaoqi] told Sihanouk: "large-scale fighting in your country is not equal to the [fighting] at our border." If the US launches attacks along the Chinese border, China will draw its forces there, thus reducing the burden for Cambodia. Sihanouk now understands and prepares to leave for the countryside and to regain the urban areas whenever good conditions prevail. That is what he thinks. Yet, whether his cadres can carry out this policy is a different thing.

These changes in the situation show that Sihanouk has been prepared to act in case of an invasion by the US. At present, Sihanouk strongly supports the NLF because he knows that the more you fight the US the fewer difficulties there will be for the Cambodians. In addition, Sihanouk understands that he needs China. But at the same time, Sihanouk does not want to take sides because he is afraid of losing the support of France, losing his neutral position. At least, what he says shows that he seems to think of and understand the logic of the war: if the US expands the war to North Vietnam, it will be spread all over Indochina.

Discussion between Zhou Enlai, Deng Xioaping, Kang Shen, Le Duan and Nguyen Duy Trinh
Date: 04/13/1966
Description: China stresses the importance of Chinese aid in Vietnam, while pointing out Vietnam’s seeming mistrust; Vietnam relies on Chinese support.

Deng Xiaoping: You have spoken about truth as well as mentioned fairness. So what are you still afraid of? Why are you afraid of displeasing the Soviets, and what about China? I want to tell you frankly what I now feel: Vietnamese comrades have some other thoughts about our methods of assistance, but you have not yet told us.

I remember Comrade Mao criticizing us—the Chinese officials attending the talk between Comrade Mao Zedong and Comrade Le Duan in Beidaihe2—of having "too much enthusiasm" in the Vietnam question. Now we see that Comrade Mao is farsighted.

Le Duan: Now, when you talk about it again, it is clear for me. At that time I didn't understand what Comrade Mao said because of poor interpretation.

Deng: We understand that Comrade Mao criticized us, that is Comrade Zhou Enlai, me and others. Of course, it doesn't mean that Comrade Mao doesn't do his best to help Vietnam. It is clear to all of you that we respond to all your requests since they are within our abilities. Now, it seems that Comrade Mao Zedong is farsighted in this matter. In recent years, we have had experiences in the relations between socialist countries. Is it true that our overenthusiasm has caused suspicion from Vietnamese comrades? Now we have 130 thousand people in your country. The military construction in the Northeast as well as the railway construction are projects that we proposed, and moreover, we have sent tens of thousands of military men to the border. We have also discussed the possibility of joint fighting whenever a war breaks out. Are you suspicious of us because we have so much enthusiasm? Do the Chinese want to take control over Vietnam? We would like to tell you frankly that we don't have any such intention. Here, we don't need any diplomatic talks. If we have made a mistake thus making you suspicious, it means that Comrade Mao is really farsighted.

Moreover, at present many hold China to be disreputable: Khrushchev is revisionist, and China is dogmatic and adventurous.

So, we hope that in this matter, if you have any problem, please tell us straightforwardly. Our attitude so far has been and from now on will be: you are on the front line and we are in the rear. We respond to all your requests within our abilities. But we shouldn't have too much enthusiasm.

The construction in the northeast islands has been completed. The two sides have discussed that the construction along the coast will be done by our military men. Recently, Comrade Van Tien Dung3 proposed that after completing the construction in the northeast, our military men help you build artillery sites in the central delta.. We haven't answered yet. Now I pose a question for you to consider: Do you need our military men to do it or not?

Zhou Enlai: [The proposal is about] the construction of 45 artillery sites close to the Soviet missile positions.

Deng: We don't know whether it is good for the relations between two parties and two countries or not when we sent 100,000 people to Vietnam. Personally, I think it's better for our military men to come back home right after they finish their work. In this matter, we don't have any ill intention, but the results are not what we both want.

Deng: Now, I want to talk about another aspect of the relations between the two parties and two countries. Among 100 thousand Chinese military men, who are now in your country, there may be someone who committed wrongdoing, and on your side there also may be some others who want to make use of these incidents to sow division between two parties and two countries. We should, in a straightforward manner, talk about it now as there is not only the shadow but some damages in our relations as well. It is not only the matters concerning our judgment on the Soviet aid. Are you suspicious that China helps Vietnam for our own intentions? We hope that you can tell us directly if you want us to help. The problem will easily be solved. We will withdraw our military men at once. We have a lot of things to do in China. And the military men stationed along the border will be ordered back to the mainland.4

Le Duan: I would like to express some opinions. The difficulty is that our judgments are different from each other. As the experience in our Party shows, it takes time to make different opinions come to agreement.

We don't speak publicly [about] the different opinions between us. We hold that the Soviet assistance to Vietnam is partly sincere, so neither do we ask whether the Soviets [will] sell Vietnam out nor [do we] say the Soviets slander China in the matter of transportation of Soviet aid. Because we know that if we say this, the problem will become more complicated. It is due to our circumstances. The main problem is how to judge the Soviet Union. You are saying that the Soviets are selling out Vietnam, but we don't say so. All other problems are rooted in this judgment. Concerning China's assistance to Vietnam, we are very clear and we don't have any concern about it. Now, there are more than a hundred thousand Chinese military men in Vietnam, but we think that whenever there is something serious happening, there should be more than 500,000 needed. This is assistance from a fraternal country. We think that as a fraternal socialist country, you can do that, you can help us like this. I have had an argument with Khrushchev on a similar problem. Khrushchev said the Vietnamese supported China's possession of the atomic bomb so China could attack the Soviet Union. I said it was not true, China would never attack the Soviet Union.

Today, I am saying that the judgment by a socialist country on another socialist country should be based on internationalism, especially in the context of relations between Vietnam and China. In our anti-French resistance, had the Chinese revolution not succeeded, the Vietnamese revolution could hardly have been successful. We need the assistance from all socialist countries. But we hold that Chinese assistance is the most direct and extensive.

As you have said, each nation should defend themselves but they also should rely on international assistance. So, we never think that your enthusiasm can be harmful in any way. To the contrary, the more enthusiasm you have, the more beneficial it is for us. Your enthusiastic assistance can help us to save the lives of 2 or 3 million people. This is an important matter. We highly value your enthusiasm. A small country like Vietnam badly needs international assistance. This assistance saves so much of our blood.

The relations between Vietnam and China will exist not only during the struggle against the US but also in the long future ahead. Even if China does not help us as much, we still want to maintain close relations with China, as this is a guarantee for our nation's survival.

With regard to the Soviets, we still maintain good relations with them. But we also criticize the Soviets if they are receptive to our criticism.

In the relations between our two parties, the more agreement we have the better we feel, the less agreement we have, the more we are concerned. We are concerned not only about your assistance but also about a more important matter, that is the relations between the two nations. Our Party Central Committee is always thinking of how to strengthen the friendly relationship between the two parties and two countries.

I would like to add some of my personal opinions. At present, there is a relatively strong reformist movement in the world, not only in Western Europe but also in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union. Many nationalist countries adopt either the path of reformism or that of fascism, as those countries are ruled by the bourgeoisie. So I think that there should be some revolutionary countries like China to deal with the reformist countries, criticizing them, and at the same time, cooperating with them, thus leading them to the revolutionary path. They are reformist, so on the one hand, they are counter-revolutionary, that is why we should criticize them. But on the other hand, they are anti- imperialists, that is why we can cooperate with them. In the history of the Chinese revolution, you did the same thing. Comrade Mao Zedong established the anti-Japanese United Front with Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek]. So my personal opinion is that China, while upholding the revolutionary banner, should cooperate with reformist countries to help them make revolution. It is our judgment as well as our policy line. This is not necessarily right, but it is out of our sincere commitment to revolution. Of course, this matter is very complicated. As you have said, even in one party there are three parts: rightist, centrist and leftist, so is the situation in a big [Communist] movement.

The differences in judgment bring about difficulties which need time to be solved. It is necessary to have more contacts in order to reach agreement in perception. It is not our concern that China is trying to take control over Vietnam. If China were not a socialist country then we [would be] really concerned. [We believe that] Chinese comrades came to help us out of proletarian internationalism.

Discussion between Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong
Date: 04/07/1967
Description: Soviet proposals to increase aid to Vietnam, via China.

Pham Van Dong: [The Soviet] proposals were: (1) China increases the quota for shipments of Soviet aid to [Vietnam] via China from 10 to 30 thousand tons a month. If necessary, the Soviet Union will send some of its locomotives to China. (2) China sets aside 2 or 3 of its ports in the South for handling Soviet aid to Vietnam. If more equipment is needed in those ports, the Soviets will cover all costs.

Discussion between Zhou Enlai, Pham Van Dong and Vo Nguyen Giap
Date: 04/07/1967
Description: Zhou Enlai reinforces his and China’s commitment to the war in Vietnam, even though he is almost seventy years old.

Pham Van Dong: Some of the strategies we are adopting on the battlefield in South Vietnam follow what you suggested to us in the past. This demonstrates that our military strategies, as well as yours, are correct, and there are also new developments.

Zhou Enlai: Not only have your strategies had new developments, but also new creations. The latecomers become the first. This is what the Chairman has said. I have written a few words for you: The latecomers become the first. ... We have not fought a war for 14 years. All three of us are old. I am almost seventy. Comrade Ye Jianying2 is seventy. Comrade Chen Yi is sixty-seven. We still want to fight, but we do not have much time left.

Ye Jianying: This is the rule of the nature.

Zhou Enlai: Although I am old, my ambition is still there. If the war in the South does not end next year, I will visit you and look around.

Ye Jianying: The old horse in the stable is still dreaming of heroic exploits; the heart of a hero in his old age is as stout as ever.

Zhou Enlai: Chairman Mao quoted these [words] from a poem by Cao Cao3 in a letter to Comrade Wang Guanlan.4 A historical figure during the feudal age still had his aspirations, how about us proletarians?

[Notes: This was the fourth meeting between the Chinese and the Vietnamese delegations. Vo Nguyen Giap started the meeting with continuing to introduce the military situation in North and South Vietnam and Vietnam's strategies.]

Discussion between Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong
Date: 04/10/1967
Description: Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong address the issue of problematic Chinese Red Guard.

Zhou Enlai: Most of the Chinese Red Guards, who crossed the border to Vietnam, are good. They came to Vietnam because they wanted to fight the Americans. But they did not respect the rules of our two countries, thus causing some complications. We apologize to you for this.

Mao Zedong: Some Red Guards do not know what a national border means. Among the people who came to Vietnam, most of them [are] from Jiangxi, some from Yunnan. It is not necessary for you to take care of them. Just explain to them and then hand them over to us.

Zhou Enlai's Talk with Pham Van Dong and Vo Nguyen Giap
Date: 04/10/1967

In considering the prospect of the war, we should include two or three possibilities. One possibility is that the war will continue and expand. The law of war is often not decided by the will of people, neither by our will nor by the enemy's will. War has its own law. Even if the enemy wants to stop the war, it may not be able to do so. Therefore, for the sake of the future, we must prepare for the continuation and expansion of the war. Another possibility is that the enemy will blockade your coast. If the enemy wages a total blockade, then it is very likely that it intends to expand the hostilities into a total war. If the enemy just wants to force you into compromise by blockading your coast and if you refuse to compromise, then what will the enemy do? The enemy must have a follow-up plan. A total blockade of the coast will not be a simple matter. It will involve the deployment of many fleets. It will be a major operation. It will strain the enemy's relations with other countries. A third possibility is what the two of you have just mentioned: the crucial moment will be the dry season next year. You may defeat the enemy, forcing it to admit its failure and withdraw from Vietnam. As to the likelihood that the war will neither end nor expand but simply wear on, that is inconceivable. The war will end inevitably and the question is when. It is impossible that the war will wear on forever without a result. Concerning the issue of political struggle, it is without doubt that political struggle should be carried out at any time. War is the highest form of the development of political struggle. It is impossible that war will not involve political struggle. Things like strengthening international propaganda, winning sympathy, weakening and dividing enemies, and exploiting contradictions between them all fall into the category of political struggle. You have done those things in the past and you must continue doing so in the future.

Discussion between Mao Zedong, Pham Van Dong and Vo Nguyen Giap
Description: Mao Zedong encourages Pham Van Dong to continue fighting and praises the Vietnamese on the resiliency, not only in the war against the Americans, but against the French and Japanese.

Pham Van Dong: We are very glad to see you healthy, Chairman Mao.

Mao Zedong: Just normal, not very well…Among all of you here, is there anyone from the South?

Vo Nguyen Giap: Comrade Pham Van Dong is a Southerner.

Pham Van Dong: My native village is in Quang Ngai province [in central Vietnam], where people are fighting the enemy very well.

Vo Nguyen Giap: Only in one year, people in Quang Ngai shot down almost 100 helicopters. They are fighting the puppet troops, [and] American and South Korean troops very well.

Mao Zedong: As you are fighting, you have drawn experience, you have come to understand the rule. If you are not fighting you will not have experience, will not know the rule... It looks more or less similar to your resistance against the French.

Pham Van Dong: We are now better than that and the fighting now is fiercer.

Mao Zedong: So, I said you now know the rule.

Pham Van Dong: We just began to do so.

Mao Zedong: It is a matter of course that in the process, changes can occur. The most difficult years were from 1956 to 1959…In 1960 there were some good changes. From 1960 to 1961, the armed forces were still small. But in 1963 and 1964, the situation changed. And now, in 1965 and 1966, you have better understanding of the rule, based on your experiences fighting against French, Japanese, and now American troops. You also fought the Japanese, didn't you?

Vo Nguyen Giap: Yes, we did, but not much; only in a small scale guerrilla warfare. In our fighting against the Americans, we always remember your words: try to preserve and develop our forces, steadfastly advancing forward.

Mao Zedong: We have a saying: "if you preserve the mountain green, you will never have to worry about firewood." The US is afraid of your tactics. They wish that you would order your regular forces to fight, so they can destroy your main forces. But you were not deceived. Fighting a war of attrition is like having meals: [it is best] not to have too big a bite. In fighting the US troops, you can have a bite the size of a platoon, a company, or a battalion. With regard to troops of the puppet regime, you can have a regiment-size bite. It means that fighting is similar to having meals, you should have one bite after another. After all, fighting is not too difficult an undertaking. The way of conducting it is just similar to the way you eat.

…I was told that you wanted to build a new 100 km railway, do our Chinese counterparts agree to help you?

Zhou Enlai: We have had discussions on the issue. Some people will be sent [to Vietnam] to make a feasibility study.

Mao Zedong: It is not too long, shorter than the distance from Beijing to Tianjin.

Pham Van Dong: We will make the feasibility study together with Chinese comrades.

Mao Zedong: It's all right, for the sake of war. What about the matter of food supply? Zhou Enlai: We discussed this with Comrade Li Xiannian.1 We will provide 100 thousand tons of rice, 50 thousand tons of maize.

Pham Van Dong: So, this year alone, China helped Vietnam with approximately 500 thousand tons of food. This help is very great.

Mao Zedong: We can help you. Last year we had good crops.

Pham Van Dong: Thank you, Chairman Mao.

Mao Zedong: If you want to say thanks, you should say it to our peasants…Later, when you have dinner with Comrade Zhou, you can ask Comrade Wei Guoqing how he was criticized by the Red Guards. I know comrade Wei because he often visits and reports to me when he comes back from working visits to Vietnam. Who is now the new [Vietnamese] ambassador?

Zhou Enlai: Comrade Ngo Minh Loan2.

Mao Zedong: Which [Chinese] character is [Loan]?

Zhu Qiwen: Phoenix-like.

Mao Zedong: This kind of bird is very strong.

Pham Van Dong: Comrade Loan will try his best to continue the job by Comrade Tran Tu Binh3, that is, to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.

Mao Zedong: I am sorry that Comrade Tran Tu Binh passed away.

Pham Van Dong: We are also very sad about it.

Mao Zedong: What kind of illness did he have?

Pham Van Dong: The same illness he had before and after he came back home, he was too busy.

Vo Nguyen Giap: He passed away after having a serious cold. He was in the same hospital with ambassador Zhou Qiyun.

Zhu Qiwen: The Friendship Hospital. I also have a record of high blood pressure.

Pham Van Dong: Today, we would like to pay a courtesy visit to you, Chairman Mao, Vice Chairman Lin [Biao] and other comrades. Once again, thank you very much.


Mao Zedong: You have been bravely struggling both in the North and in the South.

Pham Van Dong: It's because we are learning Chairman Mao's military thinking.

Mao Zedong: [It is] not necessary. Without it, you still can gain victory. In the past, you were fighting the Japanese, the French. Now you are fighting the Americans.

Pham Van Dong: Thanks to the military policy of our Party and also to Mao Zedong's military thinking.


Vo Nguyen Giap: As I remember, at one time during our resistance war against the French, Comrade Zhou sent president Ho a telegram that read: "Now is not the right time to have a peaceful solution. You should continue fighting." [Ed. note: Giap refers to late 1949 or January 1950.]

Zhou Enlai: At that time, the French were going to recognize us. But because we recognized Vietnam they ignored us. As Lenin taught, big countries have the responsibility to encourage the world revolution. At that time revolution was victorious in Russia, so Lenin thought of China and India. Now, Lenin's desire has been half-realized: the Chinese revolution has been successful. Yet, reality has not developed the way people want it to be. Some smaller countries gained victory earlier. Victory in Korea is followed by the one in Vietnam.

Discussion between Zhou Enlai and Ho Chi Minh
Date: 02/07/1968
Description: Zhou Enlai proposes to the Vietnamese to organize additional field army corps to carry out operational tasks far from home bases.

Zhou Enlai: Since the war in Vietnam has reached the current stage,1 is it possible for [the Vietnamese comrades] to consider organizing one, two, or three field army corps? Each of them will be composed of 30,000-40,000 soldiers, and each of their combat operations should aim at eliminating 4,000-5,000 enemy soldiers in whole units. These field army corps should be able to carry out operational tasks far away from their home bases, and should be able to engage in operations in this war zone, or in that war zone. When they are attacking isolated enemy forces, they may adopt the strategy of approaching the enemy by underground tunnels. They may also adopt the strategy of night fighting and short-distance fighting, so that the enemy's bombers and artillery fire will not be in a position to play a role. In the meantime, you may construct underground galleries, which are different from the simple underground tunnels, in three or four directions [around the enemy], and use them for troop movement and ammunition transportation. You also need to reserve some units for dealing with the enemy's reinforcements.

[Notes: This conversation was held in the context of the battle for Khe Sanh, which had started on January 21, and the Tet Offensive, which had begun on January 31.]

Nguyen Van Tin
5 April 2007


- Primary

- Books, Articles

* Pleiku, the Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam, J.D. Coleman, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988.

* We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, Random House, New York, 1992.

* "First Strike at River Drang", Military History, Oct 1984, pp 44-52, Per. Interview with H.W.O Kinnard, 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General, Cochran, Alexander S.

* The Siege of Pleime, Project CHECO Report, 24 February 1966, HQ PACAF, Tactical Evaluation Center.

* Silver Bayonet, Project CHECO Report, 26 February 1966, HQ PACAF, Tactical Evaluation Center.

- Viet Cong