Despite its obvious significance, the involvement of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the First Indo-China War has long been an under-researched and little understood subject in Cold War history. Because of lack of access to Chinese or Vietnamese sources, few of the many publications in English deal with China's connections with the war. In such highly acclaimed works as Marilyn B. Young's The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990, Jacques Dallaoz's The War in Indo-China, 1945–1954, Anthony Short's The Origins of the Vietnam War, R. E. M. Irving's The First Indo-China War, Ellen Hammer's The Struggle for Indo-China, 1946–1955, Edgar O'Ballance's The Indo-China War, 1945–1954, and Bernard Fall's Street Without Joy: Insurgency in Vietnam, 1946–1963, the PRC's role is either discussed only marginally or almost completely neglected.
* This article was originally prepared for the fifth annual convention of Chinese Historians in the United States, held in August 1991 at Clark University. The author benefited greatly from comments and suggestions by Michael Hunt, Zhai Qiang, William Turley, Marilyn Young, Marc Trachtenberg, William Stueck and James Somerville. He is also grateful for Raymond Mayo's help in preparing the map and for the financial support of a 1991 SUNY-Geneseo Presidential Summer Fellowship.