Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sino-Vietnam War II

Tape 80
I think we should talk about something else at the moment. this is sensitive material. If you publish this you are probably making a mistake. I mean, if you publish this story, involving this torpedo, the A184 torpedo, a lot of people will be extremely interested. And then you will be not be safe but I won't be safe either.

Let's talk some more about Vietnam. Let me tell you about the Chinese covert activities against the Vietnamese during the war because they were far more brutal than anything ever done or written by Americans concerning Vietnam. Few people realize this. Few people. I am talking about the 1979 war, not the American war. Not My Lai. In 1979 I was in school and a lot of people at that time, officers, who were involved in reconnaissance purposes, after the war was over they were sent to our school and to other places, and many of them were my friends from the time were were kids. They joined the army and then they became involved in the intelligence aspects of the war, in the analysis after the conflict was over. Reconnaissance is what they were involved in, so they were equipped with the best equipment and sent to the battle front.

First of all, the brutality on our side. In 1979, in January, the war, like the Chinese army, the first main objective, Liang Shan, we called that city. Because they had experienced so many casualties (Lang Son) on the way to that objective, and because the price we paid was so high, we wanted to wreak vengeance upon the Vietnamese, give them something they would never ever forget in return for the fighting that took place around there. So we wanted to retaliate. It was taken by ground forces, a city, we thought, of about 60,000. We thought the city was defended by a division but that was not the case. We had bad intelligence. Probably one regular division defended itand a lot of paralmilitary forces were involved. We used a lot more against it. As a result a lot of civilians were killed. This was a tremendous siege on our part....

The PLA Army engineering school, the Gong cheng bing Ji Shu Xue Yuan , at that time, the entire graduating class that year, and what they did for them, as a final examination, at the order of the general commander of the battle, the entire graduating class, everyone, was sent to Lang Son immediately for demolition purposes because they were extremely skilled at that. They were trained for that. So they wired up the whole city, the dug every day, for about a month, they did nothing else, put explosives here and there and everywhere, movie theaters, municipal buildings, civilian houses, so long as thee is something standing, they wired it up with explosives. God knows how many thousands of tons of explosives were used in the ground, and there were stacks of civilian bodies everywhere. So the PLA later on, the whole military evacuated the city, pressed the button and the whole city was no longer there. And later on, the Chinese army monitored this through their intelligence, because they could hear the talk of the people, the Vietnamese who were sent to the site to see what we had done. At that time the prime minister of Vietnam was Pham Van Dong, he personally went to see Lang Son. This guy, we were told, cried only once before, when Ho Chi Minh died, but now, when he saw Lang Son, he cried, all morning. He said, in Vietnamese, and we monitored it -- we had the technology to listen, and we heard him, he shed tears, and he said, "We never knew the Chinese could be so brutal." You can imagine what happened to the city. God knows how many were there. The boedies were blown up. All that we left behind was blood and mud and nothing else. The only time the Chinese used up most of their explosives was against the Vietnamese. They knew we could not march further down the line, and they all knew eventually we would retreat, and they knew we would retreat, so we wanted to leave them something to show them, "We will never forget you guys." It was the largest city Vietnam had in the North, and when we left there was nothing there. And when the war was over, there were not many prisoners. When the PLA soldiers, captured Vietnamese were difficult to handle. A lot of soldiers didn't sleep for days, and when they had a chance the Vietnamese paramilitary would shoot our soldiers from the sides and the back, in ambushes. This was common in the war.
This happened a lot in the war. So Chinese soldiers lost all interest in taking prisoners. They began shooting back. And of course the Vietnamese did the same thing to the PLA soldiers, so the war lasted for so many months. And later on, part of the Sino Vietnamese agreement was an exchange of prisoners. And not many pows showed up because there were not too many. They killed them all. One of the things that angered people was the female snipers. That one is, actually, since they marched south, while the places they left behind were considered safe places in the rear. And that is where tanks moved in. A mountain road and a turning point, and all the tanks would have to stop and make a maneuver and turn left. So, in the jungle, when the tanks were moving, there is an aiming hold for the cannon to see outside. The T59 standard tank, a small aiming hole in the tank, and when you make that turn the hole is vulnerable. A sniper fired in a tank and killed the operator, and the same thing happened to six or seven tanks making this turn. All were shot. And so they didn't dare go on since they thought they had encountered, before Lang Son, stiff resistance. So we halted the whole operation. And through their radios reported that they encountered formidable resistance. This was a tank company not supported by ground forces. So a whole company of soldiers came to the rescue of these vulnerable tanks, that were aiming and firing in all directions, looking for the enemy. The jungle was around them. And they marched on and proceeded, and finally they watched and searched and found a girl, a sniper, with a rifle. How many soldiers she killed nobody knew. God knows how many this woman killed. And they surrounded her and finally caught her, and jumped on her from behind, she was captured alive. A tank officer then saw her. They took off all her clothing, tied her up. And then called up a tank and drove the tank over her body back and forth and back and forth until nothing was there any more, until she was in the ground. The soldiers were enraged by all of this.
You can imagine how the soldiers and officers felt at this time. And the PLA was psychologically unprepared to fight this war, really. They thought it would be a conventional battle, I guess, and they never knew that anyone who was a civilian would also be a soldier. And Vietnam was a country of civilian soldiers. We never learned from the Americans and their experience. The Vietnamese would capture female Chinese soldiers, and they would rape them and the women of the Vietnamese would approach the soldiers as though they were friendly, and they would approach the troops, and then one of them would throw a grenade or they would blow themselves up with the soldiers. Chinese experienced that with some helicopters on the ground.
Mr. Deng knew that the PLA was not really ready to fight that war, but the reason he fought that war was because he knew if China suffered enough, he had reason to beef up the national defense spending, because they he could tell his other colleagues, see the war has showed that after all of these years of peace, no war at all, we lacked military training, our equipment was not advanced, and the Vietnamese war, against Vietnam, served the very good purpose to use it as an excuse to give more effort to beef up the military and it worked. Besides, a lot of ammunition, used against the Vietnamese at that time, were manufactured in the 1950s. There was a period of usefulness and it had passed, expired, and that means that if you did not fire this sort of weapon or this explosive shell, then the due period was passed and the effectiveness had expired. And that is why a lot of soldiers were killed using anti tank rockets, for example, they had to stand up to use it, and when they stood up and fired, and the shell hit the tank it didn't explode. And, but, it showed the Chinese were stupid to try to use this kind of weapons in the first place, but in the second place, you knew that this was a very good way for Deng to show that we had old weapons and ammunition.
When Mr. Deng was here in 1978, anyway, our understanding was that Mr. Deng achieved an understanding with the White House saying that, next year, we are going to punish Vietnam. And the Vietnamese at that time occupied not only Kampuchea, but they also infiltrated into Laos at that time. Through which they fired on Thailand. Thailand, especially the border area with Laos, was actually under fire by the Vietnamese. But Thailand was the closest American ally at that time, on very good terms with China, since China supplied the Khmer Rouge, through Thailand. And at that time China began supplying arms to the Hai army also. Yes, so there was a relationship formed. But nobody was going to defend the Thais and they knew that. The Americans refused to commit themselves to another Vietnam war. The only force left over there to protect Thailand was China and they knew that. China was not happy at that time, because Cambodia was occupied by Vietnamese and Thailand was under fire. Vietnam was expanding all over Indochina, and China was not happy about that. The only way to save Thailand and to teach Vietnam a lesson was to attack Vietnam. But at that time, China was concerned about the response of the Soviet Union from the North, since we could surely not fight two wars at the same time. The Russians, of course, supported the Vietnamese. and for that reason Mr. Deng had to come to the USA, and there were some other reasons, too. he was not here just for that purposes, of course, but he used that occasion to express ...he came home with an agreement from the Americans. The Americans then provided satellite photographs of the Vietnamese and the Soviet military maneuvers along the Sino-soviet border. So the intelligence gathering told the Chinese, and really made them confident that although this time the Soviet union expressed their concern, they said, all right, even if you are going to invade Vietnam, we are going to do something, to the North, because vn is our friend, and we cannot let our friend just be punished by you and not do anything at all. See. And at that time, Deng was pleasantly surprised, so basically what we wanted from the Americans was the photographs of the Soviet forces on the Sino-Soviet border, that is exactly what we were concerned with. So we knew, what they were doing. So, because of this intelligence information provided by the US we knew that this time the Soviets were not that serious. But still, we needed the precaution, and our forces were massed along the Soviet border. And they were still placed on alert since they had to be prepared for a Soviet invasion from the North. So they knew this time that the Soviets were not going to do anything. But then while the war was going on on the land, there was something happening on the sea.
At that time the Paracel Islands, (Xi Xia) the Chinese had captured them in 1974 and we were building on those islands now, a short airstrip. And the islands were still at that time in the hands of the navy and the responsibility of the navy. And so at that time a Soviet Task force, a very formidable one, all of a sudden headed into the South China Sea towards the Paracel Islands, like a show of force against us. And the navy had to prepare itself for this because all of the major warships, like the destroyers, they were all concentrated in the North, near Liushan and Tsingtao and all we had in the area were lighter ships like frigates, and these were the only things that we had at that time. So at that time, the South China Sea navy was put on alert, and the Soviets responded on the Sea to show us that they were loyal to their friends. So the Navy was extremely concerned. So there were immediate reinforcements of the fighter forces from the Naval air arm. Emergency measures were taken in the South near Hainan Island, and all of the forces in the light forces were concentrated and put on red alert. The torpedo boats, what was so funny is that they were missile boats, not torpedoes, they were missile boats, each capable of firing four, China had only one kind, but hundreds of them, they were for this missile boat, because of the limited range, they were forced, to maintain a force at sea close to the Paracels, these boats, they made a sortee out to a certain range then stayed there for about half an hour and returned. The range was short. So they were then rotated in that area. But they could not stay there in the battle zone for long, and once they the missile boats patrolled another group left port to replace them and so when they were low on fuel they were replaced by boats both from the Paracels and Hainan. And at that time the General Commander and the political commissar of the navy were called to the South from Beijing. This was it. They were ready for a fight with the Soviets. The destroyers, meanwhile, were called from the North, but it took them a time to get there, after the Russians had converge don the islands. And so it was the missile boats and the submarines that had to defend the islands, along with fighter cover and frigates. The navy thought this was enough to protect the islands, but there was still a concentration of soviet forces with not only destroyers but also cruisers heavily armed with missiles, and they were very apprehensive of this. This task force was without an aircraft carrier. Only surface vessels approaching the Pracels. And the frigates were there, too. Because the range was limited, and so they stayed for half an hour and then returned to port. They were there day and night to defend the islands. We were also receiving intelligence from the US on the movements of the Soviet fleet.
But at that time, there was a fortuitous coincidence, in that behind the Soviet surface group, an American task force followed the Soviets at a great distance, followed by an aircraft carrier, the Coral Sea. NV43, I remember the number was. The Soviets were aware of that, of course.
What happened is that the Americans were following them, and they knew that the Chinese navy was vulnerable at that time. The Russians knew they could knock out the Chinese navy but at a cost, a big cost. The Soviets were superior in fire power, but they had fewer ships, but higher in tonnage. So once they lost one ship that would be a big loss for them. We didn't know, whatever the reason, as they approached the Paracels, they suddenly changed course, they made a sharp turn to the East and left the zone. What a surprise, and then the Americans quietly departed too behind them.
So our navy was extremely relieved at that time, seeing the Soviets gone. My God, we thought. This was to be the only Soviet response against the Chinese for the Vietnam invasion and now it had been terminated. The fleet came, probably from the Indian Ocean. They were there. The planned this sailing for some time and had planned well for it. They showed their force perhaps to impress the Vietnamese and to scare the Chinese. The Chinese navy figured out that what the Russians probably wanted to do was to shell the island and scare us and make us think that there would be more to come if they didn't withdraw from Vietnam. But they were surprised, suddenly, to find that the Chinese navy was working, it almost seemed, in coordination with the American navy. We saw all of this on radar and they saw the Americans behind them on radar.
There was no concern at that time, keep in mind, with what the Khmer Rouge were doing to their own people in Cambodia. None at all. No matter how brutal. They were friends to China. That is the only thing we cared about. They wanted to see their friends in power. As to what they do in power, with power, well that is the internal affair of a foreign country. That should by no means be interfered with by an outside power. China included. What you do is your own business. So long as you are my friend, that is important. And by that time, too, China felt somewhat ashamed, as far as I saw it, because they knew that the Navy was not strong enough, and they were unable to support the Khmer Rouge when they were under fire. So they just hate the Vietnamese for that. We were proven to be helpless. We saw the Vietnamese occupy everything. So we had to do something.
The Original alliance got into trouble because of border incursions by the Vietnamese, the Vietnamese, they were extremely provocative. Really. They were so many soldiers at the border region and they reported that they were constantly fired upon by the Vietnamese, the Viet military disguised themselves as peasants and they crossed the border and carried out sabotage and then returned. The point of this was, that the Viets, they were strong enough, they believed, to be a rival to China. They felt they were as strong as we were. They claimed that their military was the third largest in the world. And they wanted to prove that they were the strong and the dominant force in Indochina and that now they would call the tunes there.
The brutality of the war, was really something. The Vietnamese, what they did to the Chinese prisoners was incredible. The killing and the crimes, in particular against the Chinese female soldiers. They were in the battle region also, they served to work in field hospitals and as aids. They would set up camps near the front. But at that time, the war swirled around us and the situation was confusing and nobody knew rally where the rear was. During the daytime the Viets were farmers and at night they were soldiers against us. Just like against the Americans. We should have learned that. And at night they would ambush Chinese troops or shell them. They overran some rear areas, captured Chinese women soldiers, raped them and killed them. We were told many stories about this. They used sharpened bamboo to impale the women prisoners. And then they left them for us to find. They left them like that to die on the ground. Well, that cannot go unpunished and it did not. My God, they were extremely brutal. When I first heard that story I was really surprised. Really. And the Chinese they learned then to do the same thing against the Vietnamese But that was only later on. The Vietnamese did it in the first place, make no mistake about that, please. Extremely brutal. And they captured and they knew that when they captured female soldiers against the Chinese army was very effective because they knew that there were not many female soldiers in China and all these female soldiers had good family backgrounds. Otherwise, they could not have gotten into the military. That means, a lot of commanders in the field had family members with them, women, and they were no longer alive. They put female prisoners together, they stripped them, brutalized them, and put barbed wire through their breasts to link them together, one wire linking a half dozen women together. So they could not go. And they used the bamboo shoots and had the women sit on it until they died. No one helped them. My god. And all the commanders, all the stories coming out of the war, the soldiers were extremely upset by this, outraged. They were the first ones to see these things with their own eyes. They could not stand this. Could not take it. So they retaliated against the Vietnamese. And the bombardment of Lang Son was the perfect example, and Pham Van Dong, later on, when he spoke to the reporters later on was totally in tears. But we were happy to do it. Would do it all over again. Also, I heard we did this to Cao Bang also. But I saw Lang Son blown up. Good. To show them that this is what they would pay, this is what we would do to them.
Today, you can imagine how the soldiers feel when they see the foreign ministers of the two nations embrace. The soldiers coming out of the war, when they see full restoration of the bilateral relationship, of course, we all had second thoughts. I don't know what is on their minds. You can imagine. Extreme anger. These Vietnamese, what a fucking country. What a fucking country. Nobody could be more brutal than them. Some of them had pictures, and we published some of them, for limited circulation, propaganda materials telling what the Vietnamese did to us. Some of the pictures were the bodies of the girls, raped and killed. But not the other way around, of course. Brutal. My God. They were like the Japanese in World War II. The psychological impact was tremendous on the Chinese. The Japanese seemed to enjoy themselves when they did that. That is why, we fought and did what we did in Vietnam. We were extremely angry, and when you are enraged all you do is shoot and destroy, set houses on fire, kill all the people. That is what we did gladly.
There is a sort of scorched earth policy that we used. Phosphate mines were nearby where their army, they said, had been founded. That was close to Lang Son and was an important historical site near to them. The material was phosphorous. In those mines, we found. This was the biggest mine they had in the North. While we were bombarding Lang Son, we removed the entire mining facility and took it -- everything that could be picked up. We took it back to China. And what we could not take we destroyed We destroyed the mine and plowed up the roads leading to the mine. We left nothing behind. Nothing but destruction.
At the graves, when you see the fires at night, what causes the fire. Phosphorous. That is what the mines were. This was the biggest mine we saw there and we took it from them. Phosphates. Phosphates mine. The biggest mine. We shipped everything that was ship-able from there. We left no stones unturned and blew up the mines then, the tunnels, blew them all up.
The number of men that we lost was not significant and was never publicized.

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