Archive for September 5, 2010

Another Invasion: China Takes Spratly, 1988

Posted in II. History, Modern History with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2010 by Ian Pham

When the Chinese invaded Hoang Sa in 1974, the Republic of Vietnam, under the leadership of President Nguyen Van Thieu, fought with all they had.  The attack ended in what is arguably a stalemate.  However, since the losses of the People’s Republic of China nearly doubled that of the Republic of Vietnam, it is fair to argue that the battle was won by  the South Vietnamese Navy.  The South did win the battle, but they would end up losing the islands in the end.  Since they used up all of their resources on the first confrontation, the Republic of Vietnam did not have enough firepower for a second.  For this reason, the Chinese would return on the following day with more naval power, and complete their invasion of the Paracel Islands (Hoang Sa).

Fast forward to 1988, where a group of unarmed Vietnamese soldiers, who put up their guns to become workers on the islands of Truong Sa, were ambushed by several Chinese warships.  With no fighting capabilities, the Vietnamese workers were massacred by the invading army of the PRC.  This attack would be known as the “Massacre on the Spratly Islands,” where a Chinese army ruthlessly slaughters a group of unarmed Vietnamese workers.  To this day, China denies these allegations, even though the proof of their crimes are well documented in books and all over the internet.

They justified the massacre by claiming that they were defending themselves against aggressive Vietnamese soldiers.  How could this be?  Vietnam did not have a warship present, they didn’t even have any artillery to fight back with.  Regardless, China keeps persisting that they were defending themselves, unwilling to acknowledge the damning evidence of their wrongdoings.  It should be interesting to note that the Chinese used the very same excuses to invade Hoang Sa in 1794, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them use it again.  It was this attack that made Spratly fall into the hands of the Chinese, along with Hoang Sa.

It was always on China’s agenda to take both of the islands, since they had the idea of controlling all of the Southeast Asia Sea for the longest time.  The big difference between the incidents in 1974 and 1988 is that the event in 1974 was a military clash, while 1988 is just a ruthless massacre of defenseless individuals.  The attack in 1974 was wrong enough, invading a piece of land that is clearly not under China’s jurisdiction.  However, the assault in 1988 was even worse.  This time, the victims didn’t even have anything to protect themselves with!  Both of the invasions were disgraceful, the latter was the most.  To this day, China is still in control of Hoang Sa, while also trying to take full control of Truong Sa.  It is true that the situation is bleak right now, but don’t worry.  In time, when the right leader arrives, we will take it all back.  With interest.