January 19

This Day in History

Cold War

Jan 19, 1950:

Communist China recognizes North Vietnam

The People's Republic of China bestows diplomatic recognition upon the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Communist China's official recognition of Ho Chi Minh's communist regime resulted in much needed financial and military assistance in Ho's battle against the French in Vietnam, and also pushed the United States to take a more intensive and active role in the conflict in Southeast Asia.

French colonialists and Ho's revolutionary forces had been fighting for control over Vietnam since the end of World War II. Although maintaining a neutral public stance, the administration of President Harry S. Truman was actually aiding the French with monetary and material assistance. As the battle dragged on, Ho's government issued feelers to the newly established communist regime in China concerning diplomatic recognition and military and economic assistance. Despite their shared commitment to the communist ideology, the Chinese and Vietnamese also shared a long and acrimonious history of aggression and resistance, so it was not a guarantee that the request would be granted.

China's desire to play a larger role in Asian affairs, combined with its deepening suspicions of French and American designs in neighboring Vietnam, pushed it toward closer relations with Ho's government. Shortly after the formal declaration of recognition, China began sending large quantities of military aid and many advisors into Vietnam.

The United States responded by taking a more active role in supporting the French in Vietnam. Two months after China's decision to recognize North Vietnam, the Truman administration officially declared its support for the French and asked Congress for increased military assistance, which was provided. Both the United States and China dramatically increased their roles in Vietnam in the years to come-while China continued to offer support and aid to the communists in North Vietnam, the United States became increasingly involved in fighting the communist threat in the Vietnam War.

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