Shadow of Brutal ’79 War Darkens Vietnam’s View of China Relations
For the moment, Vietnam buys weapons mainly from Russia, Israel and India. It has taken delivery of two Kilo-class submarines from Russia, and has ordered four more. Japan has pledged to provide coast guard vessels. In a move intended to encourage Vietnam to accept more from Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry announced $18 million in nonlethal aid for Vietnam’s maritime security during a visit in December.
Relations between the fraternal Communist parties thawed, cross-border business flourished and memories were eclipsed.Those memories resurfaced two months ago with the arrival of the Chinese oil rig in waters claimed by both countries off Vietnam’s coast.
There were daily skirmishes between Chinese and Vietnamese coast guard vessels, which led to anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam that left four Chinese citizens dead and damaged foreign-owned factories.
Ms. Hien, who now runs a guesthouse and welcomes Chinese clients, says she still lives with the memories of her teenage terror. After her mother was killed, soldiers found an older woman to look after her, and then told the two lost souls to shelter with others in a limestone cave.
“But several hundred people had been killed in there,” she said. “I saw a woman with her legs cut off, lying on the ground. You could tell from her eyes she was still alive and wanted help, but there was nothing we could do. I will never forget it.”.
A version of this article appears in print on July 6, 2014, on page A4 of The New York edition with the headline: Shadow of Brutal ’79 War Darkens Vietnam’s View of China Relations.