Responding to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s expression of concern over China’s actions in Asia and Indo-Pacific, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “has a better track record than any other major country in upholding peace and security.”
“We have never invaded any country,” said ministry spokesperson Mao Ning. “We have never started any proxy war. We have never engaged in global military operations or threatened other countries with force.”
That sweeping statement is false.
First, the claim that China has never invaded any country, which Chinese leader Xi Jinping endorsed in a 2021 speech, is false. As Polygraph.info previously noted, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) invaded Vietnam and India.
On February 17, 1979, hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops crossed over the 600-kilometer border with Vietnam to “teach a lesson” to that country, which had realigned toward the Soviet Union — then China’s greatest rival — the previous year. Tensions between China and Vietnam had been flaring up since the mid-1970s.
The 1979 war lasted barely a month, with China reportedly sustaining more casualties than Vietnam. But right after the war, China “launched another semi-public campaign that was more than a series of border incidents and less than a limited small-scale war,” including armed clashes and psychological warfare operations, The Diplomat magazine wrote in a February 2017 piece analyzing the legacy of China-Vietnam war.
While neither country provided an official count of casualties from the border war, historian King Chen estimated that each side “suffered more than 25,000 dead and more than 30,000 wounded,” The China Project, New York-based news site, reported.
After Communist China invaded Tibet in 1959, Beijing initiated a border war with India that lasted from October 20 to November 21, 1962. As Polygraph.info previously reported, some historians believe the “root cause” of that war was China’s belief that India “sought to undermine Chinese rule and seize Tibet.”
The months leading up to that war saw an uptick in the number of patrols and skirmishes between Indian and Chinese forces along the disputed Himalayan border. The conflict escalated in October 1962, when Chinese troops launched a full-scale invasion of India along the border’s eastern sector.
China won the border war with India, seizing some 39,000 square kilometers of the Aksai Chin region of Ladakh and consolidating its control there. Notwithstanding a ceasefire, the border dispute remains unresolved. Border tensions between Asia’s two largest countries persist, sometimes leading to armed clashes.
Beijing initiated another series of border clashes with India in 1967, and still another deadly clash erupted in June 2020. The most recent Chinese-Indian border clash occurred in December 2022.
PRC founder and paramount leader Mao Zedong supported communist parties in Southeast Asia, and his support for Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge was critical to its seizure of power in 1975.
The Khmer Rouge regime killed up to 3 million people and remained in power until 1979, when Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia and toppled it.
“China supported the Khmer Rouge during the 1970-1975 war and was the sole critical supporter throughout the 1975-1979 Democratic Kampuchea period of genocide,” Diep Sophal, author of “The Causes of the Cambodian War,” told Voice of America in 2019.
China also provided significant assistance to communist North Vietnam during the 1955-1975 Vietnam War, including weapons, ammunition, military advisers and soldiers, the same way it had aided North Korea during 1950-1953 Korean War.
In recent years, China’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea have raised fears of a potential regional military conflict. It has built artificial islands in disputed areas of the sea and militarized them with fighter jets, anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, and laser and jamming equipment.
Beijing took those steps despite President Xi Jinping’s September 2015 public pledge to then U.S. President Barak Obama that it would not militarize the artificial islands.
As Polygraph.info previously reported, China has deployed assertive fishing fleets and conducted dangerous military maneuvers to deny the United States and its allies access to the South China Sea’s international or contested waterways.
The Philippines recently accused China of using a “military-grade laser” against a ship on a routine resupply mission, the Associated Press reported on February 13.
Last May, Australia reported that a Chinese J-16 fighter had intercepted a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft conducting "routine maritime surveillance activity" in international airspace.
“Australia has conducted maritime patrols in the area for several decades — the P-8s flight was unremarkable, the J-16 fighter’s aggressive moves anything but,” defense expert Peter Layton wrote for Australia’s Lowy Institute think tank.
Polygraph.info has also reported on China’s military threats against democratically self-governing Taiwan.