This video shows you that South China Sea Showdown: How Vietnam Would Wage War Against China.
Vietnam has reason to worry about China — particularly China’s increasing presence in the South China Sea complete with air bases on artificial islands and a massive maritime militia comprised of fishing boats, with crews answering directly to the People’s Liberation Army.
Vietnam has its own claims in the region, and recent naval patrols and a landing by a Chinese H-K bomber in the Paracel Islands — a first — have amounted to a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry stated on May 21.
What’s less clear is how Vietnam would respond if tensions with China were to ever escalate to armed conflict. The scenario is not out of reach. China’s single war since the Korean War was with Vietnam in 1979. In 1988, Chinese troops and naval gunfire killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers at the Johnson South Reef. And during the past few years, Vietnam has patiently bolstered its military with the help of a long-time partner, Russia, clearly in response to China’s own maneuvers at sea.
Vietnam’s military doctrine is also closely guarded, according to a recent article by defense analyst Derek Grossman of the RAND Corporation, a research institute with close ties to the U.S. Air Force. But there are a few key attributes of Vietnam strategy that tells us how it would likely confront China at sea — and those date back to wars Vietnam has fought, and won, in the past.
An important concept in Vietnamese warfighting is the “people’s war.”
“How could the Vietnamese nation have defeated an imperialist power such as France which was backed by the U.S.?” the legendary Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap wrote in People’s War, People’s Army, a 1961 book of military theory. “When the Resistance War spread to the whole country, the Indochinese Communist Party emphasized in its instructions that our Resistance War must be the work of the entire people. Therein lies the keys to victory.”
This is somewhat different from “total war,” which often implies an indiscriminate set of targets for military action. “People’s war” refers to the social characteristics of an armed struggle waged by “masses” — for example, at the local level in the form of an armed village during the Vietnam War.
The concept doesn’t easily translate to the sea. But according to Grossman, Vietnam has implemented the “people’s war” doctrine at least in part — primarily through the creation of a Vietnamese maritime militia called the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force or VFSF, mirroring the Chinese version.
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