Historical Dictionary



The People’s Republic of China was from its advent on 1 October 1949 the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s (DRV) most important ally in the region and the world until the signing of the Geneva Accords in 1954. Personal ties between Chinese and Vietnamese communist leaders reached back to the 1920s. Ho Chi Minh had first brushed shoulders with Zhou Enlai in Paris following World War I and rejoined him in Guangzhou (Canton) in the mid-1920s at the Whampoa Politico-Military Academy. These longstanding friendships and the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to promote revolution elsewhere in Asia after coming to power in October 1949 saw the Chinese support the Vietnamese case for diplomatic recognition, in contrast to a remarkably reluctant Joseph Stalin. Indeed, the Chinese led the way by recognizing the DRV officially on 17 January 1950, followed shortly thereafter by Moscow and the rest of the communist bloc. The Chinese provided vital economic and military aid and training to the Vietnamese army during the First Indochina War, allowing the DRV to go beyond guerrilla warfare to take the battle to the French Expeditionary Corps in set-piece battles. Mao Zedong personally followed major Vietnamese military operations, including the battle of Dien Bien Phu. A Chinese Military Advisory Delegation arrived in northern Vietnam in 1950 to help the Vietnamese in the further communisation of their party, economy, and cadres. However, the adoption of the Chinese-modelled land reform provoked disastrous results in northern Vietnam. That did not prevent both sides from cooperating closely during international negotiations seeking to end the Indochina conflict during the Geneva Conference. See also AID, CHINESE; GENEVA ACCORDS.