Deng Xiaoping's Long War

The Military Conflict between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991

By Xiaoming Zhang

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, 5 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4234-5
    Published: February 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2125-8
    Published: May 2015
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4362-3
    Published: May 2015

New Cold War History

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Awards & distinctions

A 2016 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

The surprise Chinese invasion of Vietnam in 1979 shocked the international community. The two communist nations had seemed firm political and cultural allies, but the twenty-nine-day border war imposed heavy casualties, ruined urban and agricultural infrastructure, leveled three Vietnamese cities, and catalyzed a decadelong conflict. In this groundbreaking book, Xiaoming Zhang traces the roots of the conflict to the historic relationship between the peoples of China and Vietnam, the ongoing Sino-Soviet dispute, and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's desire to modernize his country. Deng's perceptions of the Soviet Union, combined with his plans for economic and military reform, shaped China's strategic vision. Drawing on newly declassified Chinese documents and memoirs by senior military and civilian figures, Zhang takes readers into the heart of Beijing's decision-making process and illustrates the war's importance for understanding the modern Chinese military, as well as China's role in the Asian-Pacific world today.

About the Author

Xiaoming Zhang is professor of strategy and history at the Air War College.
For more information about Xiaoming Zhang, visit the Author Page.


"[A] skillful study. . . . Reminds readers of the reasons why fundamental distrust persists on both sides."--Foreign Affairs

“A useful synthesis . . . of the current state of knowledge on this subject.”--Journal of Chinese Military History

“[A] superb example of history writing at its best . . . [and] one of the best explanations of China’s current strategic approach to military action. Essential.”--Choice

“Valuable not only for its detailed description and assessment of the 1979 conflict, but importantly also because of its account of actions after the main hostilities.”--Asian Affairs

"The definitive work on the subject...Well-researched and clearly-written study fills a gap in our knowledge about China’s preparation and execution of the Third Indochina War."---H-Diplo

“Explores the Sino-Vietnamese military conflict that ran from 1979 to 1991. . . . Draw[s] from an impressive range of Chinese sources for this work.”--Canadian Journal of History