This answer explains why the USA didn't initially invade North Vietnam with ground forces: it was China's unambiguous red line for getting involved like they did in Korea.

However, that was 1965. While the Chinese ramped up support to North Vietnam between 1964 and 1968, by 1969 the Sino-Soviet split was in full swing and North Vietnam was firmly in the Soviet camp. China, meanwhile, would look towards the US, and official rapprochement would kick off shortly.

This coincided with Nixon's draw-down of American troops in Vietnam due to domestic war exhaustion, and focus on handing over the conflict to South Vietnamese forces. Ultimately the withdrawal of both Chinese and American troops would last until the early 70s, followed shortly by North Vietnam overrunning the South.

These processes were happening somewhat in parallel. Was there any documented reaction from the American side (no matter how fringe) along the lines of "China is breaking up with Vietnam so we can push past their red lines now with our remaining troops" or was it already too late to take advantage of the Chinese realignment?

  • Wasn't it just the other way around: that Nixon's opening to China aimed, among other things, to deescalate the situation in Vietnam? (Both by getting help from Chinese, and by influencing Russia.)
    – Roger V.
    Commented May 5 at 7:09
  • Most likely - but I'm wondering if there were minority opinions in the other direction.
    – SPavel
    Commented May 6 at 1:04


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