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China and Its Neighbors, Part 2: Vietnam

China and Vietnam have spent much of their history fighting each other. But in modern times, the two are increasingly bound by culture and economics.
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China and Vietnam have spent much of their history fighting each other. But in modern times, the two are increasingly bound by culture and economics.

Twenty-five years ago this week, China invaded Vietnam. The invasion came after months of tension between the two communist neighbors. The Chinese attack was prompted by Vietnam's decision to invade Cambodia and remove the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge. The 1979 border war between China and Vietnam was over quickly, with the Chinese retreating after heavy losses.

But as NPR's Michael Sullivan reports in the second part of a series examining how China is viewed by its neighbors, relations between the two countries have improved significantly since then. The two countries are bound by culture -- and increasingly by economics. Trade is growing rapidly and Vietnam has become a popular vacation spot for Chinese tourists. And the Vietnamese Communist Party looks to the Chinese Communist Party as a model for opening up its economy while maintaining tight control over politics.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michael Sullivan is NPR's Senior Asia Correspondent. He moved to Hanoi to open NPR's Southeast Asia Bureau in 2003. Before that, he spent six years as NPR's South Asia correspondent based in but seldom seen in New Delhi.