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State of Mankind

(17) Exporting revolutions(continued)

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By 1978, the CCP’s total aid to Vietnam reached $20 billion, while China’s GDP in 1965 was only 70.4 billion yuan (approximately $28.6 billion at the official exchange rate at the time).

In 1973, the United States compromised with the domestic anti-war movement, which was actually instigated by communists, and withdrew its troops from Vietnam. On April 30, 1975, North Vietnam occupied Saigon and took South Vietnam. Under the direction of the CCP, the CPV began suppressions similar to the CCP’s Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries. More than 2 million people in South Vietnam risked death to flee the country, becoming the largest refugee wave in Asia during the Cold War.
In 1976, the whole of Vietnam fell to communism.


The CPV asked the CCP to provide large-scale assistance to Vietnam during the Vietnam War, but this later became one of the reasons China and Vietnam became hostile to each other. In order to export revolution, the CCP loaded Vietnam with huge amounts of aid in order to have it keep fighting the United States. Vietnam didn’t want the war to drag out so long, so it joined the U.S.-led four-nation talks (which excluded China) from 1969.

In the 1970s, after the Lin Biao incident, Mao urgently needed to establish prestige in China. In addition, Sino–Soviet relations had worsened after the Zhenbao Island incident, a locally contained military conflict between the two powers. Mao thus cooperated with the United States to counteract the Soviet Union and invited U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Meanwhile, facing opposition to the Vietnam War back home, the United States was loath to continue fighting. Vietnam and the United States signed a peace agreement. It was then that Vietnam drifted away from the CCP and came into the orbit of the Soviet Union.

Mao was unhappy with this and decided to use Cambodia to put pressure on Vietnam. Relations between Vietnam and Cambodia became worse, and the two countries eventually went to war.
The CCP’s support for the Communist Party of Kampuchea (broadly known as the Khmer Rouge) began in 1955, with Khmer leaders receiving training in China. Pol Pot, the paramount leader of the Khmer regime, was appointed by Mao in 1965. Mao provided money and arms to the Khmer, and in 1970 alone provided Pol Pot with weapons and equipment for 30,000 people.

After the United States withdrew from French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), the local governments were unable to resist the CCP-supported communists, and so the Laotian and Cambodian regimes fell into their hands in 1975.

Laos fell to Vietnam while Cambodia came under the control of the CCP-backed Khmer Rouge. To implement the CCP’s policy and teach Vietnam a lesson, the Khmer Rouge repeatedly invaded southern Vietnam, which had been united by the CPV in 1975. It slaughtered residents at the Cambodian–Vietnamese border and tried to occupy the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s relationship with the CCP was bad, while its relationship with the Soviet Union was good. With the support of the Soviets, Vietnam began attacking Cambodia in December 1978.

After Pol Pot seized power, he ruled with extreme terror. He announced the abolition of currency, ordered all urban residents to join collective forced-labor squads in the countryside, and slaughtered intellectuals. In little more than three years, more than a quarter of the country’s population had been killed or had died from unnatural causes. Nevertheless, Pol Pot was touted by CCP leaders Zhang Chunqiao and Deng Yingchao.

After the war between Vietnam and Cambodia began, the Cambodian people began to support the Vietnamese army. In just one month, the Khmer Rouge collapsed, lost the capital Phnom Penh, and was forced to flee into the mountains and fight as guerrillas.

In 1997, Pol Pot’s erratic behavior caused quarrels within his own camp. He was arrested by Khmer commander Ta Mok and, in a public trial, was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1998, he died from a heart attack. In 2014, despite the CCP’s repeated attempts at obstruction, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia sentenced two Khmer leaders, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, to life in prison.

Vietnam’s war with Cambodia infuriated Deng Xiaoping. For this and other reasons, Deng set off a war against Vietnam in 1979, calling it a “counterattack for self-defense.”


The CCP’s export of revolution had painful repercussions for the Chinese diaspora. Numerous anti-Chinese incidents broke out around the world, and at least several hundred thousand overseas Chinese were murdered. Many also had their right to do business and receive an education restricted.

One typical example was in Indonesia. During the 1950s and 1960s, the CCP provided significant financial and military support to Indonesia to prop up the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, or PKI). The PKI was the largest political group at the time, with three million direct members. Added to that, its affiliated organizations brought the combined total affiliates and members to twenty-two million scattered across Indonesia’s government, political system, and military, including many close to the first Indonesian president, Sukarno. [12]

Mao was criticizing the Soviet Union at the time for supporting “revisionism” and strongly encouraged the PKI to take the path of violent revolution. PKI leader Aidit was an admirer of Mao and was preparing to stage a military coup.

On September 30, 1965, right-wing military leader Suharto crushed this attempted coup, cut ties with China, and purged a large number of PKI members. The cause of this purge is related to Zhou Enlai. During one of the international meetings between the communist countries, Zhou promised the Soviet Union and representatives of other communist countries: “There are so many overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, the Chinese government has the ability to export communism through these overseas Chinese, and make Southeast Asia change color overnight.” From this point on, large-scale anti-Chinese movements began in Indonesia. [13]

The anti-Chinese movement in Burma (also known as Myanmar) was similar. In 1967, soon after the start of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Consulate in Burma, as well as the local branch of the Xinhua News Agency, began heavily promoting the Cultural Revolution among overseas Chinese, encouraging students to wear Mao badges, study his Little Red Book, and confront the Burmese government.

The military junta under the rule of General Ne Win gave an order to outlaw the wearing of badges with Mao’s image and the study of Mao’s writings, and ordered that overseas Chinese schools be shut down.

On June 26, 1967, a violent anti-Chinese incident took place in the capital Yangon, where dozens were beaten to death and hundreds injured. In July 1967, the CCP’s official media called for “firmly supporting the people of Myanmar under the leadership of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) to start armed conflicts and start a major revolt against the Ne Win government.”

Soon after, the CCP sent out a military counsel team to assist the CPB, along with over 200 active soldiers to join them. They also ordered large groups of CPB members who had lived in China for many years to return to Burma and join the struggle. Afterward, a large number of Chinese Red Guards and CPB forces attacked Burma from Yunnan, defeating the Burmese government forces and taking control of the Kokang region. More than 1,000 Chinese youth sent from Yunnan died on the battlefield. [14]

About the time of the Cultural Revolution, the CCP’s attempts at exporting revolution involved the promotion of violence and the provision of military training, weapons, and funding. When the CCP stopped trying to export revolution, communist parties in various countries all disintegrated and were unable to recover. The Communist Party of Indonesia was a typical case.

In 1961, the Malaysian Communist Party (MCP) decided to abandon armed conflict and instead gain political power through legal elections. Deng Xiaoping called MCP leaders Chin Peng and others to Beijing, demanding that they continue their efforts at violent insurrection because at the time the CCP believed that a revolutionary high tide centered around the Vietnamese battlefield would soon sweep Southeast Asia.

The MCP thus continued its armed struggle and attempted revolutions for another 20 years. [15] The CCP funded the MCP, having them procure arms on the black market in Thailand, and in January 1969, established the Malaysian Sound of Revolution Radio Station in Yiyang City, Hunan Province, to broadcast in Malaysian, Thai, English, and other languages. [16]

After the Cultural Revolution, during a meeting between Singapore’s President Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping, Lee requested that Deng stop the radio broadcasts of the MCP and the Communist Party of Indonesia into China. At the time, the CCP was surrounded by enemies and isolated, and Deng had just regained power and required international support, so he accepted the recommendation. Deng met with MCP leader Chin Peng and set a deadline to shut down the broadcasts agitating for communist revolution. [17]

In addition to the countries noted above, the CCP also attempted to export the revolution to the Philippines, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, and elsewhere, in some cases providing military training, and in some cases spreading propaganda. Some of these communist organizations later became internationally acknowledged terrorist groups. For example, the Japanese Red Army, which became notorious for its anti-monarchist and pro-violent revolutionary slogans, was responsible for a plane hijacking, the massacre of civilians at an airport, and a range of other terrorist incidents.

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  1. Ellanjay's Avatar

    Large-scale anti-Chinese movements began in Indonesia thanks to Zhou Enlai’s bragging.