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From a line on paper to a line in physical reality: joint state-building at the Chinese-Vietnamese border, 1954–1957

Yin, Qingfei ORCID: 0000-0003-0757-8377 (2020) From a line on paper to a line in physical reality: joint state-building at the Chinese-Vietnamese border, 1954–1957. Modern Asian Studies, 54 (6). 1905 - 1948. ISSN 0026-749X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0026749X1800029X


This article studies the collaboration between the Chinese and Vietnamese communists in the socialist transformation of their shared borderlands after the First Indochina War. It both complicates and clarifies the volatile bilateral relationship between the two emerging communist states as they solidified their power in the 1950s. Departing from traditional narratives of Sino-Vietnamese relations which focus on wars and conflicts, this article examines how the timely convergence of Cold War and state expansion transformed the Sino-Vietnamese borderlands from 1954 to 1957. Using both Chinese and Vietnamese archival sources, it contends that the Chinese and Vietnamese communists pursued two interrelated goals in carrying out the political projects at the territorial limits of their countries. First, they wanted to build an inward-looking economy and society at the respective borders by consolidating the national administration of territory. Second, they wanted to impose a contrived Cold War comradeship between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in place of the organic interdependence of people within the borderlands that had existed in the area for centuries. The Sino-Vietnamese border, therefore, was the focus of joint state-building by the two communist governments, which made the cross-border movement of people and goods more visible, manipulable, and, more importantly, taxable.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2021 15:12
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 03:25

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