From Red Revolution to Red Solution: China and the Cold War Endgame in Indochina

Hosted by the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre

Room CBG 2.05, 2nd Floor, Centre Building


Dr. Qingfei Yin

Dr. Qingfei Yin

Assistant Professor of International History and SEAC Associate, LSE


Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Professor of Geography and Urban Studies, LSE; SEAC Director

SEAC hosted Dr Qingfei Yin (Assistant Professor of International History and SEAC Associate, LSE) who presented From Red Revolution to Red Solution: China and the Cold War Endgame in Indochina

The Indochina Wars was one of the longest lasting, and the deadliest regional conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. In comparison with the First and Second Indochina Wars, the Third Indochina receives significantly less scholarly attention largely because it was a series of interconnected armed conflicts among Communist powers and thus lacked the inter-bloc dynamics that were characteristic of a Cold War conflict. Following the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia in December 1978, China, perceiving unified Vietnam as a prawn of Moscow, launched a “punitive” attack against Vietnam in February 1979. The “Cambodia problem” featured so prominently in the strained Sino-Soviet relations that when the Soviets proposed a détente, Deng Xiaoping announced a list of Chinese conditions in 1985. The first among these conditions was a Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia. While existing literature has discussed how the Indochina situation was intertwined with great power competition, the regional dynamics, especially the role of other Southeast Asian countries, remain a less explored aspect. This project investigates China’s interactions with other Asian powers regarding the settlement of Cambodian issue from the 1980s to the early 1990s and examines how the Cambodian crisis shaped China’s policy toward Southeast Asia. It argues that before the 1980s, China did not have a coherent Southeast Asia policy, and as a result, its relations with Southeast Asian countries were largely subject to the triangular relations between the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China. The settlement of the Cambodian crisis played an important role in the emergence of China’s Southeast Asian policy at the end of the Cold War.   

Speaker and Chair Biographies:

Dr Qingfei Yin is Assistant Professor of International History (China and the World) at LSE. As a historian of contemporary China and inter-Asian relations, her research focuses on China’s relations with its Asian neighbours, Asian borderlands, and the Cold War in Asia. She is particularly interested in how the global Cold War interacted with state-building in marginal societies. She is currently working on her book manuscript Comrades and Competitors: State-Building at the Sino-Vietnamese Border during the Cold War. Her research articles have appeared in Modern Asian Studies and Asian Perspective. Her next project is on the impacts of Southeast Asia on the trajectory of China’s reform and opening-up. Dr Yin received her PhD in History from George Washington University. Before joining LSE, she was Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Military Institute. She also serves as the Book Review Editor of Journal of Military History and on the Editorial Board of Cold War History. 

Prof. Hyun Bang Shin (@urbancommune) is Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science and directs the LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre. His research centres on the critical analysis of the political economy of speculative urbanisation, gentrification and displacement, urban spectacles, and urbanism with particular attention to Asian cities. His books include Planetary Gentrification (Polity, 2016), Neoliberal Urbanism, Contested Cities and Housing in Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), Exporting Urban Korea? Reconsidering the Korean Urban Development Experience (Routledge, 2021), and The Political Economy of Mega Projects in Asia: Globalization and Urban Transformation (Routledge, forthcoming). He is Editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and is also a trustee of the Urban Studies Foundation.

Photo by UX Gun on Unsplash