Role-Taking: China, ASEAN and the Third Indochina Conflict

  • Robert YatesEmail author
Part of the Critical Studies of the Asia-Pacific book series (CSAP)


This chapter analyses the Third Indochina Conflict and looks at how it acted as a catalyst for a role contest between China and Vietnam. China and Vietnam sought to legitimise their respective containment strategies in Indochina with ASEAN through claiming a great power guarantor role. After Vietnam intervened and occupied Cambodia, ASEAN and China negotiated a division of labour with respect to managing the conflict which brought China out of its previous social alienation to perform legitimate regional order functions. The chapter shows how ASEAN’s diplomatic leadership was expanded from its initial maritime subregion to cover the full extent of Southeast Asia. Through this expanded diplomatic leadership, ASEAN was able to limit the extent of China’s great power role-taking to the specific circumstances of the Third Indochina conflict by diluting the influence of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge and asserting the salience of its own rules and processes over Cambodia. The expansion of ASEAN’s remit built on the previous bargain reached with the US and provided foundations for creating ASEAN’s ‘regional conductor’ role in post-Cold War Asia-Pacific.


  1. Alagappa, M. (1989). US-ASEAN Security Relations: Challenges and Prospects. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 11(1), 1–39.Google Scholar
  2. Alagappa, M. (1993). Regionalism and the Quest for Security: ASEAN and the Cambodian Conflict. Journal of International Affairs, 46(2), 439–467.Google Scholar
  3. Ang, C. G. (2013). Singapore, ASEAN Diplomacy and the Cambodian Conflict, 1978–1991. Singapore: National University of Singapore.Google Scholar
  4. Anwar, D. F. (1994). Indonesia in ASEAN. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  5. Ba, A. (2009). [Re]Negotiating East and Southeast Asia: Region, Regionalism, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bahari, Z. (1988). Malaysia–China Bilateral Relations. In J. K. Kalgren, N. Sopiee, & S. Djiwandano (Eds.), ASEAN and China: An Evolving Relationship. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  7. Beresford, M. (2001). Vietnam: The Transition from Central Planning. In G. Rodan, K. Hewison, & R. Robison (Eds.), The Political Economy of South-East Asia (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Buszynski, L. (1983). The United States and Southeast Asia: A Case of Strategic Surrender. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 14(2), 225–243.Google Scholar
  9. Buzan, B., & Weaver, O. (2003). Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cabellero-Anthony, M. (2005). Regional Security in Southeast Asia: Beyond the ASEAN Way. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  11. Chanda, N. (1986). Brother Enemy: The War After the War. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  12. Chang, C. Y. (1979). ASEAN’s Proposed Neutrality: China’s Response. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 1(3), 249–267.Google Scholar
  13. Chang, P. M. (1985). Kampuchea Between China and Vietnam. Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Chang, P. M. (1987). China and Southeast Asia: The Problem of a Perception Gap. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 9(3), 181–193.Google Scholar
  15. Ciorciari, J. D. (2010). The Limits of Alignment. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Colbert, E. (1982). Changing Relationships in Southeast Asia: ASEAN, Indochina, and the Great Powers. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 4(1), 76–85.Google Scholar
  17. Dawson, A. (1985). Implications of a Long Term Conflict on Thai–Vietnamese Relations. In ISIS Workshop on Future ASEAN-Vietnam Relations. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University.Google Scholar
  18. Emmers, R. (2003). Cooperative Security and the Balance of Power in ASEAN and the ARF. New York: Routledge Curzon.Google Scholar
  19. Evans, G., & Rowley, K. (1984). Red Brotherhood at War. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  20. Garrett, B. (1981). The Strategic Triangle and the Indochina Crisis. In D. W. P. Elliot (Ed.), The Third Indochina Conflict. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  21. Ghazali, M. B. S. (2000). Malaysia, ASEAN, and the New World Order. Kuala Lumpur: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Press.Google Scholar
  22. Goh, E. (2005). Constructing the U.S. Rapprochement with China, 1961–1974: From ‘Red Menace’ to ‘Tacit Ally’. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Goscha, C. E. (1995). Going Indochinese: Contesting Concepts of Space and Place in French Indochina. Copenhagen: Nordisk Institut for Asienstudier Press.Google Scholar
  24. Goscha, C. E. (2006). Vietnam, the Third Indochina War and the Meltdown of Asian Internationalism. In O. A. Westad & S. Quinn-Judge (Eds.), The Third Indochina War. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Graham, J. A. (1980). The Non-aligned Movement After the Havana Summit. Journal of International Affairs, 34(1), 153–160.Google Scholar
  26. Haacke, J. (2003). ASEAN’s Diplomatic and Security Culture: Origins, Development and Prospects. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Hamilton-Hart, N. (2012). Hard Interests, Soft Illusions: Southeast Asia and American Power. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Indorf, H. H., & Suhrke, A. (1981). Indochina: The Nemesis of ASEAN? In L. Suryadinata & N. S. Men (Eds.), Southeast Asian Affairs 1981. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  29. Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University. (1985). The Kampuchean Problem in Thai Perspective. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University.Google Scholar
  30. Irvine, D. (1982). Making Haste Less Slowly: ASEAN From 1975. In A. Broinowski (Ed.), Understanding ASEAN. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  31. Jeshurun, C. (2007). Malaysia: Fifty Years of Diplomacy 1957–2007. Kuala Lumpur: Talisman.Google Scholar
  32. Jones, L. (2012). ASEAN, Sovereignty and Intervention in Southeast Asia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  33. Kan, S. A. (2010, July 6). US–China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service Report.Google Scholar
  34. Khaw, G. H. (1977). An Analysis of China’s Attitude Towards ASEAN, 1967–76. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  35. Kiernan, B. (2008). Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Kissinger, H. (2011). On China. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  37. Koh, T. (1998). The Quest for World Order: Perspectives of a Pragmatic Idealist. Singapore: Institute of Policy Studies.Google Scholar
  38. Lee, L. T. (1981). Deng Xiaoping’s ASEAN Tour: A Perspective of Sino-Southeast Asian Relations. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 3(1), 58–75.Google Scholar
  39. Lee, K. Y. (2000). From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965–2000. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  40. Leifer, M. (1985/1986). Obstacles to a Political Settlement in Indochina. Pacific Affairs, 58(4), 626–636.Google Scholar
  41. Leifer, M. (1989). ASEAN and the Security of Southeast Asia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Leifer, M. (2000). Singapore’s Foreign Policy: Coping with Vulnerability. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Leong, S. (1987). Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China in the 1980s: Political Vigilance and Economic Pragmatism. Asian Survey, 27(10), 1109–1126.Google Scholar
  44. MacIntyre, A. J. (1987). Interpreting Indonesian Foreign Policy: The Case of Kampuchea, 1979–1986. Asian Survey, 27(5), 515–534.Google Scholar
  45. Manglapus, R. (1988). Sec. Raul Manglapus on Philippine Foreign Policy. Kasarilan, 3(4), 50–69.Google Scholar
  46. Martini, E. A. (2007). Invisible Enemies: The American War on Vietnam, 1975–2000. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  47. McCormick, T. J. (1995). America’s Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After (2nd ed.). Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Menétrey-Monchau, C. (2006). The Changing Post-War US Strategy in Indochina. In O. A. Westad & S. Quinn-Judge (Eds.), The Third Indochina War. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Morris, S. J. (1999). Why Vietnam Invaded Cambodia: Political Culture and the Causes of War. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Narine, S. (2002). Explaining ASEAN: Regionalism in Southeast Asia. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  51. Nguyen, V. T. (2006). The Paris Agreement and Vietnam–ASEAN Relations in the 1970s. In O. A. Westad & S. Quinn-Judge (Eds.), The Third Indochina War. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Niksch, L. (1989). Thailand in 1988: The Economic Surge. Asian Survey, 29(2), 165–173.Google Scholar
  53. O’Dowd, E. C. (2007). Chinese Military Strategy in the Third Indochina War: The Last Maoist War. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Palat, R. A. (2004). Capitalist Restructuring and the Pacific Rim. London: Routledge Curzon.Google Scholar
  55. Paribatra, M. R. S. (1984). Strategic Implications of the Indochina Conflict: Thai Perspectives. Asian Affairs, 11(3), 28–46.Google Scholar
  56. Paribatra, M. R. S. (1987). From Enmity to Alignment: Thailand’s Evolving Relations with China. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University.Google Scholar
  57. Paribatra, M. R. S. (1988). Dictates of Security: Thailand’s Relations with the PRC. In J. K. Kalgren, N. Sopiee, & S. Djiwandano (Eds.), ASEAN and China: An Evolving Relationship. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  58. Pressello, A. (2014). The Fukuda Doctrine and Japan’s Role in Shaping Post-Vietnam War Southeast Asia. Japanese Studies, 34(1), 37–59.Google Scholar
  59. Rajaratnam, S. (1989). Riding the Vietnamese Tiger. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 10(4), 343–361.Google Scholar
  60. Rungswasdisab, P. (2004). Thailand’s Response to the Cambodian Genocide. Yale University Cambodian Genocide Program. Available at Accessed June 22, 2014.
  61. Shih, C.-Y. (1993). China’s Just World: The Morality of China’s Foreign Policy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  62. Shiraishi, T. (1997). Japan and Southeast Asia. In P. J. Katzenstein & T. Shiraishi (Eds.), Network Power: Japan and Asia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Simon, S. W. (1982). The ASEAN States and Regional Security. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.Google Scholar
  64. Simpson, G. (2004). Great Power and Outlaw States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Sodhy, P. (1989). A Survey of U.S. Post-Vietnam Policy and the Kampuchean Dilemma, 1975–89: A Southeast Asian View. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 11(3), 283–312.Google Scholar
  66. Soesastro, H. (1988). Indonesia–China Relations. In J. K. Kalgren, N. Sopiee, & S. Djiwandano (Eds.), ASEAN and China: An Evolving Relationship. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  67. Sukma, R. (1999). Indonesia and China: The Politics of a Troubled Relationship. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  68. Sutter, R. G. (1981). China’s Strategy Toward Vietnam and Its Implications for the United States. In D. W. P. Elliot (Ed.), The Third Indochina Conflict. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  69. Van der Kroef, J. M. (1981). ASEAN, Hanoi, and the Kampuchean Conflict: Between “Kuantan” and a “Third Alternative”. Asian Survey, 21(5), 515–535.Google Scholar
  70. Van der Kroef, J. M. (1984). Kampuchea: Protracted Conflict, Suspended Compromise. Asian Survey, 24(3), 314–334.Google Scholar
  71. Van der Kroef, J. M. (1986a). The United States and Cambodia: The Limits of Compromise and Intervention. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 7(4), 251–267.Google Scholar
  72. Van der Kroef, J. M. (1986b). “Normalizing” Relations with China: Indonesia’s Policies and Perceptions. Asian Survey, 26(8), 909–934.Google Scholar
  73. Van der Kroef, J. M. (1986c). The Second Bandung Conference: The Utility of a ‘Non-event’. In J.-J. Lim (Ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs 1986. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  74. Vatikiotis, M. (1993). Indonesian Politics Under Suharto: Order, Development and Pressure for Change. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  75. Wade, R. (1996, May–June). Japan, the World Bank, and the Art of Paradigm Maintenance: The East Asian Miracle in Political Perspective. New Left Review, I/217, 3–36.Google Scholar
  76. Wanandi, J. (2012). Shades of Grey: A Political Memoir of Modern Indonesia 1965–1998. Jakarta: Equinox.Google Scholar
  77. Wang, G. (1990). China: 1989 in Perspective. In C. Y. Ng & C. Jeshurun (Eds.), Southeast Asian Affairs 1990. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  78. Weatherbee, D. E. (2008). ASEAN’s Identity Crisis. In A. M. Murphy & B. Welsh (Eds.), Legacy of Engagement in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  79. Widyono, B. (2008). Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  80. Williams, M. (1991, July). Indonesia and China Make Up: Reflections on a Troubled Relationship. Indonesia Special Issue: The Role of Indonesian Chinese in Shaping Modern Indonesian Life, pp. 145–158.Google Scholar
  81. Yahuda, M. (1986). The China Threat. Kuala Lumpur: Institute of Strategic and International Studies.Google Scholar
  82. Zhang, Y. (1998). China in International Society Since 1949: Alienation and Beyond. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK

Personalised recommendations