THE EFFECTS OF SOVIET AND CHINESE INVOLVEMENT IN THE WAR ON THE VIETNAMESE COMMUNISTS
There is substantial evidence that the politicalof the Soviet Union and Communist China on the war, and the amount of their material assistance to the war, are highly significant influences on Vietnamesepolicy. The importance of Soviet and Chineseand assistance has been readily admitted by the In his5 speech setting forth theand tasks facing the Vietnamese after the US began bombing the North, Premier Pham Van Dong said simply that the "more" the Vietnamese are "supported and assisted in all fields by the socialist camp, the more they will be able to struggle vigorously and resolutely" against the enemy in Vietnam. In Aprilong re-emphasized the significance of bloc backingeclaration that the "victories" of the Vietnamese people are not only theof their own efforts, but are also the "result of the infinitely valuable sympathy, support and assistancethe fraternal socialist countries."
The Vietnamese view bloc.support as valuable inand, in some ways, increasing the militarythe Communists can bring to bear in South Vietnam. They also see itrotective umbrella which partially inhibits direct allied military pressure on the DRV and helps to negate the effects of the bombing of the North. Firm Soviet and Chinese backing also helps complete the ideological equation in the conflict so important to the Communists,hiswar of liberation" and it is the duty of all Communists to support and encourage such wars.
Significance of Economic and Military Aid
A. General Level of Aid
In an apparent response to the allied airmilitary and economic assistance provided by the
USSR and Communist China increased sharply the total amounts of aid extendednown, reasonably firm evidence enables us tomilitary aid amounting to0 million andaid-of0 million was probably delivered The Communist allies have undoubtedlyto provide additional assistance but weto make any meaningful estimates of the totalthese commitments. There is reliable evidence5 did commit itself to extend additionalof at0 million. We do not know ifis for military or economic programs. of available evidence suggests that it is notbut is probably intended as assistance in thebomb'damaged facilities or for defense
The immediate significance of the military and economic aid provided by other Communist countries is that it provides North Vietnam the material means to carry out its aggressive programs. North Vietnam is significant militarilyogistic base for the transmission ofsupplies to South Vietnam,ource of manpower, and as the center for control of the insurgency. rimitive economy itapability to produce onlyitems of military equipment and relies on other Conanu-nist countries for all of its heavy military equipment and most of its small arms and ammunition. Materialto North Vietnam is also significant as an apparent commitment of other Communist countries to underwrite the material costs of the war and to assist in theof North Vietnam's economy. These assurances undoubtedly underlie North Vietnam's apparent willingness to lose its economic facilities to air attack and toin its pursuit of the war in South Vietnam. Thisis undoubtedly strengthened by the knowledge that even more assistance will be forthcoming data on shipping to North Vietnam show that imports continue to rise5 levels. At the same timeare continuing to decline so that the growing import surplus can only be financed by additional assistance from Communist countries.
B. Economic Aid
Known economic credits and grants extended bycountries2 amounted to more6
million. (See Table Aboutercent of the total was in the form of grants. By the end40 millionercent of the extension had been drawn. The USSR accounted0ercent) of total extensions and Communist Chinaercent). The0 million wasby the European Communist countries and token amounts were provided by Albania, North Korea, and Mongolia.
After an apparent hiatus of two years therogram for economic assistance to North Vietnam was revived in5 when Premier Kosygin visited Hanoi. As the war expanded substantial new extensions of economic aid were made in The only publicabout the value and composition of the aid has come from Hungary which is reported to have5 million for trucks, telecommunications equipment, medical^supplies, and machine_tools. Rumania ia also re-
. i have extendedredit
In5 and6 new aidwere signed with all Communist countries, suggesting that thegreements were small. Since then other Communist countries have promised increased assistance for North Vietnam. Inoscow reported an agreement
to provide technical assistance; additional Chinese aid for agriculture was announced in July. All the Warsaw Pact members also pledged increased economic aid to North Vietnam in
We estimate that deliveries of economic aidwere in the order0 million orabove the average annual level. Innine months, however, an unusually large numberSoviet industrial aid contracts with North In6 Soviet specialists
were reportea^uiNortrr Vietnam to determine equipment needs for constructing new enterprises and rebuilding those destroyed by US air attacks.
All of thesea substantially
increased aid6already confirmed
by our intelligence on thecomposition ofimports.
ConnnuolBt Economic Aid Extended to Horth Vietnamft
Million US |
al Thlo is the minimum of economic aid extended by the Soviet Bloc and Comnuniot" China. In addition, insignificant amounts of aid have been extended by Albania, Mongolia, and North Korea. Because of rounding, components may not add to the totaln shown.
b. Ho extensions are known to exist, although some may have taken place.
C. Military Aid
Military aid to North Vietnam whichhadpreviouslyelatively small scale reached fffffff^lsmBBBmBBi
^Hfin* About throe-fourths of thia aid, by value, was provided by tho USSR as the supplier of North Vietnam's modern air defenses, particularly itsSAMsvs-tem and jet interceptors. The approximately provided by Communist China was limited principally toarms.
1. Soviet Military Aid
By the end5 Soviet military aid to North Vietnam approached0 million. The sequence and value of Soviet arms aid to North Vietnam was as follows (in million
aid extended after4robably was completely delivered by the end, Major deliveries included equipment for -air missile firing bat^lions, )c;
rajJHIet fighters, fflet fighters,guns ranging0nd hundreds of vehicles. (See Table
*The value of military aid is expressed in Soviettrade prices.
**Values, reported in rubles, have been converted toat the official exchange rate: .
The USSR has also provided military technicians to instruct the North Vietnamese in the operation of the SAM system. In addition the North Vietnamese havepilot training in Soviet jet fighters both in North Vietnam and the USSR. We estimate that the number oftechnicians may have been as highnut diminished when tha North Vietnamese began to
Estimated Soviet and Chinese Deliveries of Military Equipment to North6
assume operational control of the SAM system. The cost of this technical assistance was probably less thanmillion.
Following North Vietnam's activethe US in the Tonkin Gulf incidentsSoviets extended Hanoi the reported
listed above for antiaircraft and
for surface-to-air missile systems anddtl^nt training for North Vietnamese crews. Shortly afterKosy-.gi^Ls visit to Hanoi innother HHss!
pwas reportedly granted for aircraft and additional antiaircraft and SAM equipment.
An indication of continued military aid6 is contained in reports on the "Gratuitous Aid and Technical Assistance Agreement" signed in Moscow Reportedly, the USSR agreed to provide large quantitiesam ant^ircraft guns, other ground equipment, and possibly fHiadditionalet fighters. Although not enough is known on types and quantities of equipment to permit an estimate of the value of the arms portion of the agreement, the cost of the antiaircraft guns and jet fighters alone willillion.
2. Chinese Military Aid
There is little information on Chineseaid to North Vietnam, but we estimate that totalthehe order5 millionwas delivered Although
the North Vietnamese armed forces are structured basically on Chinese rather than Soviet lines,hey were equipped largely with weapons from the USSR. 0 to the Gulf of Tonkin incidents in4 Chinese arms aid to Hanoi probably increasedoint where itit did notarms aid. Following the Gulf of Tonkin incidents, the Chineseto provide some weapons,et fighters andJMshanghai-class fast patrol boats, but fell far behind the USSR as the major arms supplier. The major -Chinese contribution to Hanoi's war effort has beenrovider of military construction units and materials and, possibly, operational antiaircraft elements.
Some elements of Chinese military units are positioned in Northeast and Northwest "near the main railroad
lines leading to Yunnan and Kwangsi. Elements of twoengineer divisions of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and an antiaircraft division are known to be in these areas. Although little is known regarding the size of this force, it is estimated that00 Chinese may be involved.
Aside from these operational units, Chinese military technicians in North Vietnam may. Unconfirmed reports stateorth Vietnamese pilots and ground crews trained in China. Although little is known on the numbers of Chinese techniciansNorth Vietnam in the, they arenot to have been so large as to move the cost of this military technical assistance aboveillion spent by the USSF.
3. Other Communist Military Aid
Military aid supplied to North Vietnam by the Communist countries of Eastern Europe5 was negligible. The major items of military and emergencyaid extended or delivered by these countries since then may be summarized as follows:
East European aid primarily isuasimilitary, defense support nature (even the Czechoslovakian small arms were mainly sporting rifles for training purposes). This aid has gained impetus6 and may be expected to increase substantially in the future.
D. Bloc Aidritical Factor in Continuing the War
Although Soviet and Chinese military and economic aid has been small in terms of their capabilities, it is absolutely vital to North Vietnam's ability to adequately
defend its territory and to support the insurgency in South Vietnam. essation of bloc military aid would, in fact, almost certainly make it impossible for the Vietnamese to sustain the war in South Vietnam at its present level of intensity.
North Vietnam has no productive capability to produce heavy military equipment or the new family of weapons with which the VC Main Forces are being equipped. The NVA and VC Main Forces are totally dependent onsources for2 family of weapons and the heavier weapons being introduced into South Vietnam. If these sources were denied, the VC/NVA forces would be deprived of their major offensive capabilities, and oncewere exhausted these forces would be compelled to revertuch lower level of military activity.
Since the available evidence points not onlycontinuation, butrobable increase in blocthe last halft does not appearthe Vietnamese Communists will be faced withsubstitutes for it or of altering their policy toof its cessation during the foreseeableso long as Soviet and Chinese supportleast at its present levels, it does not appearVietnamese Communists would view itriticalin any basic determination they might make oncontinue the fighting. Vietnamese Communistin the final analysis, they must rely mainlyown resources to prosecute the revolution appeara genuine and deeply held belief. The themehasersistent one instatements, and has not at all been abandoneddown in the face of the increasing alliedpressure on the Viet Cong and on the
In Marchor example, DRV party spokesman Truong Chinh declared that the "strategic line" of the revolution was still to rely "mainly on our own forces" whilerotracted war. In April, Ho Chi Minhairo newsman that the Vietnamese people, while "highly appreciating" the assistance of the socialist countries would "basically depend on their ownn May, another North Vietnamese politburo spokesman, Pham Hung, reiterated that, even while employingfrom the bloc, "our dictum is to rely principally on our own strength."
III. The Rationale For Chinese Support
There appear to be several important considerations in the Vietnamese view which tend to reinforce their "do itttitude. They apparently believe, for one thing, that there are distinct limits to the amount ofand materiel support which can be counted upon from Peking and Moscow, Vietnamese documents andindicate that they believe Peking is willing toonsiderable contribution of military/ economic/ andassistance to keep the fighting going along its presentprotracted struggle by proxy, fought if necessary to the last Vietnamese. Hanoi is also wellthe conflictest case of Mao's theory that "wars of liberation" can be fought withoutS nuclear response against either the local Communists or their sponsors. This war, moreover, isplace in an area close to China andegion which the Chinese believe to be their rightful sphere of
However, the Vietnamese also appear to believe that there are limits to the price Peking is willing to pay to keep the conflict going. This is implicit, in part, in the DRV'a handling and comment on public Chinese pledges of assistance. For85 editorial in the DRV party daily, which dealt with Chinesewas formulatedanner which made it clear that the latest pledges of Chinese support were not aa strong as those earlier issued by Peking, prior to the escalation of the air war against North Vietnam. The editorial also treated the question of Chinese volunteers for Vietnamashion which suggested some doubt in Hanoi over the
ultimate willingness of Peking to bring in combat troops should the situation deteriorate to the point where they might be needed. The editorialew aid pact between the Chinese- and the North Vietnamese signed in early December. The pact was treated in the press of both countries with caution and without the usual fanfare. The aid, moreover, was in the formoan andrant. This, in itself, suggested limitations on the Chinesein supporting the Vietnamese,
Peking's caution is not, however,egative factor in Hanoi's view. The Vietnamese themselves wish to prevent the introduction of such massive Chineseas would undercut Vietnamese Communist control
and direction of the insurgency, unless it was required to prevent the extinction of the Communist regime in the DRV. This was underscored by DRV politburo member, Le Due Tho, in an article published in the North Vietnamese party journal in The "lines, strategy, and methods" of the revolution, wrote Tho, are awhich our party must assume, as we ourselves and alone can realize most clearly the problems concerning thein our country."
Tho was doubtless addressing both Peking and Moscow in his remarks, but he probably had mainly in mind theChinese political pressure on Hanoi designed to keep.the Vietnamese steadfast in the war and block anymove toward negotiations. One prime example of this occurred in June when the Chinese lashed outoviet-sponsored World Peace Council proposal on negotiations to end the war. Although the proposal closely echoed the DRV's own four points, the Chinese maintained that because it did not insist on the "immediate and total withdrawal of OS troops from Southt had left:out the key elementietnam settlement. Hanoi itself hasnsisted on immediate withdrawalondition forand did not make any comment on the proposal by the council. Peking, however, was clearly anxious to make it appear that the Asian Communist position on ending the war was tougher than indicated in the Council proposal to which the North Vietnamese hadarty. Peking's quick attack denied Hanoi the opportunity to voice anyof the proposal lest it indicate an open difference of opinion with the Chinese.
,.' Even given the Chinese willingness to pressure Hanoi, however, it is probable that the pressure would not[be sufficient to force the Vietnamese to stay in the war if they decide on their own volition to end the fighting. The Vietnamese Communists probably estimate that, in view of the limitations on the Chinese commitment, Peking would do little more than complain if the conflict wereshort of an insurgent victory. The Chinese, in fact, seem to recognize this, for they have repeatedlyleft themselves an out by emphasizing that all decisions on the war are "strictly" up to the Vietnamese.
IV. Vietnamese View of Soviet Support
The Vietnamese Communists probably judge, on the basis of Moscow's assistance so far, that the Soviet commitment
in the war is considerably more restrained than that of he Chinese. This can be seen, in part, in Northstatements dealing with Soviet assistance. Although Hanoi has, in the main, carefully attempted to express equal gratitude for the help of both bloc powers, someimplicitly critical of Moscow have occasionally come forth. Inor example,ime when the North Vietnamese signed aid pacts with both Peking and Moscow, DRV spokesmen were much warmer in their description of Chinese assistance than of Soviet. Peking's support was termed at the time the "firmest, the most powerful, and the mosthile China was hailed aa the "most enthusiastic and resolute comrade in arms of all nations fighting against the imperialists.".
Hanoi is fully aware that Moscow, like Peking, has also displayed an overriding concern in its actions on the war to avoid steps which might leadirect Soviet-US military confrontation. For example, Moscow hasthe conflict avoided sea delivery to Haiphong ofmilitary shipments. Moreover, important Soviethave gone out of their way in private to disavow the significance for Soviet-US relations of the presence of Soviet military-technical personnel in the DRV.
It is doubtless clear to the Vietnamese that the Soviets would like an early end to the war. Evidence suggests that the Soviets did cautiously advise Hanoi to move toward asettlement of the conflict in Following Kosygin'o visit to the DRV in February, the Chinese charged that Moscow hadormal proposal to Hanoi and Pekingeconvention of an international conference on Indochina. During the bombing pause early this year, party secretary Shelepin apparently took further soundings on Hanoi's attitude toward possible political alternatives to the conflict. In recent months, in view of the continuing hard-line stand of the Vietnamese, the Russians appear to have avoided applying most of the pressures they could exert on the DRV, probably judging them to be marginal at best. Soviet party chief Brezhnev displayed this cautious attitude during recent talks with De Gaulle. He told the French president that Moscow would be ready toonference only "if and when Hanoi agrees."
Despite the limitations on Soviet assistance andit is probable that Soviet backing has, on balance, the effect of buttressing the Vietnamese Communist will to
persist in the conflict. The Vietnamese probably judge that they can continue to count indefinitely on Moscow's assistance along present lines so long as the warin its present context. They probably believe, in fact, that the Soviets are now locked into the struggle in view of the pretensions Moscow still holds to leadership of
the Communist camp, and that it cannot afford to stepaside.Original document.