The Vietnam War as China's Watershed
China today is a rising superpower and a major challenger to American hegemony. The industrialization and modernization that other nations achieved in centuries, China has compressed to a few decades. Indeed, all too often, we forget how meager were China's origins before its recent rise. By the mid-20th Century, China remained extremely poor and militarily weakened, having suffered the Century of Humiliation and the Japanese Invasion. These trends would begin to change, however, during the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s. This paper tracks how the Chinese leadership used their involvement in Vietnam to work toward three goals: first, to legitimize Mao's military theories; second, to damage Soviet international prestige in the Communist movement; and third, to secure an advantageous post-war relationship with the United States. In achieving these goals, the Chinese used Vietnam as a springboard for future geopolitical relevance and development.