chapter  14
Towards a connected history of Asian Communism
The case of early Sino-Vietnamese revolutionary overlaps
ByChristopher E. Goscha
Pages 21

The anti-Communist “Red Scares” in the United States and parts of Asia obsessed with Chinese Communist “expansionism”, the Vietnam War and its radicalisation of intellectual and political circles, and especially the violent meltdown of Asian Communism in the late 1970s have never made it easy to study Asian Communism in cool-headed ways. During the height of the Cold War, only anti-Communists and defenders of the “domino theory” spoke of the “spread” or “expansion” of Chinese and Vietnamese Communism into East and Southeast Asia. Anti-Communist states in Southeast Asia often transformed long-standing Chinese communities into “Fifth Columns” working secretly for Beijing. The “Overseas Chinese” were often equated with “Communists” by Indonesian officials, while the Thais adopted remarkably similar policies towards the “overseas Vietnamese” concentrated in northeast Thailand. If the Sino-Vietnamese Communist alliance in the early 1950s convinced many Western leaders that the Asian dominos would fall to the Chinese communists, the violent fall-out between Vietnamese and Chinese Communists in 1979 saw Chinese and Vietnamese Communist allies break, violently, over the control of former French Indochina and purge their longstanding interactions from the official historical record. He or she who writes on Asian Communism in transnational ways must still tread very carefully because official and not so official historiographies of the Cold War in Asia remain mined. It is only recently, thanks to our distancing from the wars for Indochina, the end of the Cold War and the concomitant opening of new Communist archives, that the de-mining of the field has begun, and scholars can venture into heretofore dangerous areas of the past.