Why did not Communist China annex Mainland Southeast Asia?

Mar 2012
In the bag of ecstatic squirt
If the historical point that shall be considered was the Cold War, then China is simply incapable of invasion of these nations. Sure China had the number of infantry to march towards those territories but it was already the moment when these Southeast Asian nations were no longer that primitive like when they were invaded by the Western nations like Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, Britain and the belated coming of the US as the colonial era occurred. But, after WW2 these Southeast Asian nations possessed a good number of army to defend their territories and with enough weapon for defensive purposes. They surely cannot attack China, but defending is another situation.

Also, that was already the time when the US had been actively policing the world. The air and naval war shall be covered by the Americans and the infantry of these nations shall defend their land that maybe under attack by China, and the latter shall definitely be defeated.


Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
you can ask the questions to any countries in this world, that why do not they annex the smaller neighbors?

but that is a strange kind of questions, which implied a strange logic behind the questions-----it is(?) a normal behavior that a bigger country annexing the smaller neighbors.

but that is a false logic, and the questions are strange, indeed.

there is simply no desire.
May 2017
Hong Kong
When communist China came to a draw with the U.S. military forces and the Allied armies in the Korean War Chinese military might was respected worldwide.

And then why should China invade the neighbors nearby ? The Ming armanda roamed the South China Seas and the Indian Ocean but they did not colonize South East Asia like the Western Powers which reached the region more than a century later in a feverish grab.

Actually the Chinese normally would like to stay where they are traditionally especially the dynastic emperors regarded those who migrate overseas were traitors to a point that those Chinese were not allowed to come back home again.
Feb 2011
Why didn't the US take over Canada? After all, they both have a majority of English speakers. Not to mention the vast resources of Canada, the geopolitical benefits, and the relative difference in military power today. The US military can easily march into Canada. So why do they stop at the border?

I think you'll find that the answer to many of these question is simply a lack of sufficient motivation. The US did try to invade Canada in the War of 1812, just as China invaded Vietnam in the past. But such occurrences are rarely motivated by wanton aggression; most of the time, they are motivated by strong economic or geopolitical goals. For example, the US invasion of Canada in 1812 was in reaction to the fact that the British used it as a base for attacking the US. The Han Dynasty invasion of Nanyue was in retaliation for the killing of Han Dynasty ambassadors and the overthrow of the Han Dynasty's imperial vassals in the region.

Wars were and are costly affairs. Military action is not a game - it requires a tremendous mobilization of resources, people, and political will. Defeat could lead to the end of a dynasty, and even military victory could become political defeat through bankrupting a court's ability to finance the state. Consequently, lacking strong motivation, and in the presence of significant resistance, states would generally not choose to risk war, especially when they could achieve, through diplomacy, most of the same goals. Towards this latter factor, small states on the borders of large empires often willingly submit as "allies," so as to decrease the motivation for invasion even further.
Aug 2015
Los Angeles
They tried to goat Vietnam into going for a brawl fight against France in Dien Bien Phu with the promise that they will send their own army in if it went bad. Of course, we are not that stupid. It's easy to invite your enemy into your home but chasing them out wouldnt be so easy.
Are you claiming the Chinese goated the Vietnamese into the Vietnam War?

Is that your claim?


Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
china sent lots of supplies to viet nam during their war against france, specially chinese generals were co-commanding the Dien Bien Phu battle, with chinese air defense cannons troops backed viet nam.

the one possible fault china had ever made is that, after the war with france, china suggested viet nam to seek a temporary peaceful solution with the south. china thought it was unnecessary to fight with the south, which could unify with the north in peaceful ways. also, with practical considerations, china cannot continuously supply viet nam with the supplies of food and weapons when china suffered famine.
at Geneva, it was settled that the north would not fight the south after the war with france. the north viet nam temporarily accepted the chinese suggestion. however, a dark shadow planted in north that they believed that china had paused or even interrupted their unification and china betrayed the brotherhood with reducing supply of food and weapons.

we can hardly blame the viet nam for their wishes of unification. however chinese do not understand their thinking that china stopped their unification. the fact is, china cannot put viet nam's demand of weapon and food ahead of chinese troubles of severely spreading famine.
Aug 2013
why would China want to do that ?? as if governing 1.4Billion people under one flag was not already hard enough.
More precisely: why would *Zhaoguo / Zhaojia (趙國/ 趙家) want to do that ?? as if governing 1.4Billion people under the *Zhao flag was not already hard enough.

*most popular unofficial name of the Chinese regime among the Chinese - look it up. I have to admire the perspicacity and sophistication of the Chinese people and language.


Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
*most popular unofficial name of the Chinese regime among the Chinese - look it up.
the meaning is not exactly like that. it might appear close to mean "the regime", but the slight deviation makes a huge gap.
you would have to read where this word is first used. (True Story of Ah-Q)
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Jan 2010
Atlanta, Georgia USA
China is undoubtedly currently one of the most powerful countries in the world - in terms of territory, population as well as already economy. Yet it seems that it could have easily been even more powerful than it is right now. That additional power could have come from either annexation or vassalization of Mainland Southeast Asia (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, West Malaysia, etc.). I wonder why the Chinese didn’t use the chance to expand their country, especially in the climate of the Cold War, right after the WW2. Why didn’t it happen? Reasons they could have used:

- cultural ties (linguistic and religious similarities between all these countries with China.)
- tributary system (nearly all countries of Mainland Southeast Asia were at some time part of the Chinese tributary system, China could have claimed it tries to reunite all of the Chinese historical territory.)
- Chinese diaspora (there is a huge Chinese diaspora living in the said countries, sometimes accounting for almost the half of the population of respective countries, e.g. in Thailand. China could have claimed that it tries to unite all the Chinese people into one country.)
- discrimination of the Chinese (the Chinese being an economic elite in almost all of these countries suffered sometimes from racist riots and discrimination. China could have claimed it tries to save them from progroms.)
- spread of communism (communism was enormously popular in that part the world right after the WW2. China could have claimed they try to convert these countries to communism, something they cannot achieve on their own. They actually did a lot to support the movement in these countries but never tried to annex them.)
- opposition to imperialism (Mainland Southeast Asia was subjugated by european powers and in case of Vietnam there was a war fought to expel the French. China could have claimed it tries to free this part of the world from the european imperialism, something that these countries cannot achieve on their own.)
- lack of democracy (countries in this part of the world after the WW2 were either military dictatorships of communist dictatorships with a very poor human rights record. The international community wouldn’t have defended them the same way democracies are usually defended.)
- imperial rivalry (China deeply destroyed by Japanese imperialism and confronted by Soviet imperialism and USA imperialism could have claimed that in self-defense it preemptively annexes these countries to counter imperialism from all of the said countries.)
- war involvement (China was deeply involved in the Vietnam war, it also had a problem with Kuomintang leftovers in Myanmar and Thailand. The conflict was already on so why not try the most radical solution and annex these countries.)

It looks right now like the USA treats China like its sworn enemy, even though China probably doesn’t see itself as such.
The USA is an imperialist, chauvinist country. Their crypto-fascist culture made it exterminate Native Americans and steal a large part of the Mexico territory and they apparently have no remorse about that, yet they hypocritically try to lecture others. They see the world of international relations as a darwinist world where the great powers bully smaller countries, invade them, pillage them and even steal their territory. Apart from that, they have that jingoistic idea that they are somehow exceptional. They cannot coexist with countries that are or even may be as powerful as they are. That is the reason why they go so crazy about the rise of China, or any other country for that matter. No matter what China does, they will be treated as enemies by Americans, they just cannot change their mentality. China must be surely aware of that by now. Why the Chinese didn’t try to play the american game and expand their own country. It wouldn’t have made really much change to their international standing, because they are anyways criticized about the issue of Tibet and such, usually by such compromised countries like the USA. Was it their lack of cynism or foresight, they didn’t see the great power confrontation they are being drawn into by the USA? Is that because China is itself shy of being imperialist and have therefore to its own disadvantage didn’t use the chance?

What are the relations between China and these countries today? Are they in its sphere of influence?
What's the long paragraph about your views of the United States got to do with the rest of your post? I object to your characterizations and gratuitous insults of my country.

FWIW, the US does not regard China as an enemy, any more (or less) than China regards the US as an enemy. Both countries regard the other with caution and call out misbehavior by the others, but both countries know that they have many important interests in common.
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