June 1978: Sino-Vietnamese Relations Deteriorate After Vietnam Joins COMECON

In June 1978, Vietnam became the 10th member of COMECON, an organisation established in January 1949 to facilitate and coordinate the economic development of the Eastern Bloc countries belonging to the Soviet Union.

Vietnam’s accession to the organisation spealt a turning point in Sino-Vietnamese relations. Although under the aegis of the Soviet Union, and in that respect considered the Communist version of the European Economic Community (founded in 1957), China is and has never been a full member of COMECON. China’s brief participation in the organisation lasted from 1950 to 1961 with an observer status, ending after the Sino-Soviet split in 1956.

As a result, relations between China, a long time supporter of Vietnam during the First Indochina War and the Second Indochina War, and Vietnam began to deteriorate soon after. China received Vietnam’s membership in COMECON as well as a treaty of friendship signed with the Soviet Union with caution, considering Vietnam’s strengthening ties to the Soviet Union a threat to China’s regional sphere of influence. By 1978, China had ended its aid to Vietnam.

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