Cambodia Table of Contents
The communist conquest of Phnom Penh and of Saigon (renamed Ho Chi Minh City) in April 1975 seemed to presage realization of Ho Chi Minh's long-cherished political dream--stated in a 1935 resolution of the ICP--an Indochinese federation comprising Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Many observers believed--because of Vietnam's efforts to nurture a Cambodian communist party that was tied closely to Hanoi--that the Indochinese federation that emerged would be controlled by Hanoi. The Khmer Rouge victory of 1975, however, won by Pol Pot's chauvinistic and hardline party faction with its abiding distrust of Vietnam, doomed this prospect for the time being.
In mid-1975, a series of border clashes erupted between Cambodian and Vietnamese forces. Each side blamed the other for initiating the conflicts, which occurred even as Hanoi defended the Pol Pot regime against international criticism of atrocities inside Cambodia. Border fighting increased in 1977, according to some reports. In June of that year, Vietnam proposed negotiations to settle the border dispute, but the Khmer Rouge said negotiations would be premature. In December, Cambodia accused Vietnam of aggression, demanded withdrawal of its troops from the country, and severed diplomatic ties. In February 1978, Hanoi called for an immediate end to all hostile military activities in the border region and for the conclusion of a peace treaty. At the same time, Hanoi denied the allegations that it had been trying to incorporate Cambodia into an Indochinese federation, adding that Vietnam had not entertained the idea of federation since the ICP was dissolved in 1951. The Pol Pot regime continued to claim, however, that Vietnam had never abandoned the idea of a federation, and the regime called on Hanoi to cease activities aimed at overthrowing the Government of Democratic Kampuchea.
Data as of December 1987