Sino-Vietnam Relations Timeline


Trung Sisters

Ancient History and Chinese Rule10

208 B.C. Vietnamese kingdom of Au Lac destroyed and becomes part of Nam Viet kingdom under Chinese general Trieu Da during fall of Qin Dynasty.

202 B.C. Han Dynasty rules China, Nam Viet kingdom and China engage in military and diplomatic disputes for next 90 years.

111 B.C. Nam Viet conquered by Chinese Han emperor Wudi and capitol of Nam Viet burned. Nam Viet is split into 9 Chinese military districts managed by Chinese officials and forced to pay tribute. Beginning of over 1,000 year Chinese rule and Vietnam refereed to by Chinese as Jiaozhi. 

9 A.D – 23 A.D. Han Dynasty briefly interrupted by Xin Dynasty and many political refugees (scholars, officials, soldiers, etc.) flee to Vietnam. This is the beginning the of Sinicization in Vietnam.

39 A.D. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi sisters lead rebellion against Chinese and establish independent Vietnamese state.

42 A.D. Han army crushes new Vietnamese state and reinstates Chinese rule. This ushers in the end of the era of local autonomy in Vietnam and Chinese rule over Vietnam now mirrors colonialism. Many chiefs killed, deported to China, and many forced to accept Chinese customs to survive. Eventually upon independence, the Trung sisters are declared national heroes. 

187 A.D. – 226 A.D. Chinese governor over Vietnam, Shi Xie, takes advantage of Han Dynasty’s decline and makes province virtually independent from China but continues Sinicization process. Shi Xie eventually defeated by Wu forces from Nanjing, China.

248 A.D. Trieu Au stages failed revolt against Chinese rule.

542 A.D. Upper class Chinese descendant Ly Bon drives out Chinese rulers and establishes Vietnamese kingdom.

545 A.D. Chinese armies defeat Ly Bon’s state.

618 A.D. – 907 A.D. Tang Dynasty rules Vietnam, many failed rebellions by Vietnamese upper class.


1000807_10151419853851784_381503943_nVietnamese Independence from China’s Rule11

939 A.D. After fall of Tang Dynasty series of uprisings led to defeat of the Chinese army and official establishment of Vietnam.

981 A.D. Army under Song Dynasty invades Vietnam, defeated by Vietnam ruler Le Hoan. Vietnam gains formal recognition of independence by Song emperor.

1057 A.D. Song Dynasty army again tries to invade, four year war, Vietnamese victory.

1407 A.D. Ming Dynasty reconquers Vietnam. Ming rulers enforce harsh Sinicization practices.

1418 A.D. Rich Vietnamese land owner Le Loi starts10 year rebellion against Chinese.

1428 A.D. Hanoi recaptured from Chinese and Vietnamese victory.

1788 A.D. China again tried to invade Vietnam but defeated by Nguyen Van Hue.


RIMPAC 2012Sino-Vietnamese Modern History12

1948 China begins using nine-dashed line around South China Sea.

1949-1950 Mao’s CCP begins supporting Ho Chi Minh with aid to fight Vietnam War.

1950-1978 Chinese estimates say China supplied up to $20 billion USD worth of assistance to Vietnam.

1974 Territorial disputes over Paracel Islands first emerge between China and Vietna(Khoo 2010). China seizes islands from Vietnam military, Vietnamese protest.

1977 Expulsions of Vietnamese with Chinese ethnicity starts in Vietnam.

1978 Vietnamese and Soviets form sign an alliance, aggravating Chinese. Beijing brings up land and maritime disputes issues and stops all aid to Vietnam.

1978 Vietnam invades Chinese-backed Cambodia.

1978 Vietnamese army launches surprise attack on Chinese border patrol near border.

1979 Sino-Vietnamese war, border clashes last for a decade after.

1988 70 Vietnamese sailors killed in Sino-Vietnamese navel battle over Spratlys.

1989 Vietnam issues economic reforms to open it up to outside world.

1991 Sino-Vietnam relations normalized for first time since after the border wars.

1991 China passes “Law on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone of the Republic of China” to legalize claim over Paracels and Spratlys.

1991-1998 Sino-Vietnam relationship rebuilding phase. Bilateral trade increases from 23.23 million USD to 21,045.18 million USD making China Vietnam’s largest trade partner.

1999 China and Vietnam sign Land Border Treaty to resolve all issues between land border.

2002 China’s Zheng Bijian begins using “peaceful rise” as a slogan for its development and foreign policy strategy.

2003 Vietnamese foreign policy begins uses doi tac (objects of cooperation) and doi tuong (objects of struggle) to define bilateral relations with other countries. This mindset currently guides Vietnamese foreign policy. 

2007 Vietnam “Ocean Strategic Program to 2010” to enhance naval power.

2007 Riots brake out in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City over Chinese presence in South China Sea.

2008 Fake plan for Chinese invasion of Vietnam spreads across internet, protests in Vietnam.

2009 China publishes fishing law over South China Sea and arrests Vietnamese fishermen.

2010 Vietnam and China defense ministries hold first annual strategic defense dialogue to enhance join cooperation and understanding.

2011 Obama Administration beings policy of “Pacific Pivot” and refocuses military and political assets towards Asia.

May 2011 Vietnamese boat has cables cut by Chinese maritime patrol ships while carrying out an underwater servery of South China Sea.

July 2011 US and Vietnam conduct series of naval drills in South China Sea in response to China.

October 2011 Exxon Mobil discovers oil reserves off coast of Vietnam in a piece of the South China Sea claimed by the Chinese.

December 2011 China deploys first aircraft carrier in Yellow Sea.

2012 Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao explains to NPC that friendly neighboring states relationships are top priority compared to other relationships.

January 2014 China issues new regulations of fishing in the South China Sea requiring all foreign ships to gain approval from Chinese departments before fishing.