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What made the Vietnamese leave Cambodia?

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The Vietnamese officially left Cambodia in 1991 so that the major factions could meet in Singapore in July 1991, which brought about the UN operation (1992–94 UNTAC) that saw nationwide elections in 1993.

Unofficially the Vietnamese were still in Cambodia as late as August 1992 and some say even into 1993.

All factions, including the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), FUNCINPEC (the Royalists), the Khmer Serei (pro-US anti communists), the Son San Party (a former General in the US-backed Lon Nol Army), and many other parties had candidates. The CPP won the majority of seats, with FUNCINPEC being the second greatest and the Sam Rainsay Party (also pro-US but less anti-communist) came third with members in parliament.

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Mission accomplie. It was a quick job destroying the Khmer Rouge, but it took much longer to help the new government put things in place, first of all a military that could protect the government and the people to some extent. An immediate withdrawal would mean a return of the Khmer Rouge that would result in retaliation and more severe genocide. It is exactly like in Afghanistan. The US came in quickly, but need to keep combat troops and air power there to maintain security for 20 years. Without the Khmer Rouge backed by China and Thailand the Vietnamese would have withdrawnv since long time. Another element was the international pressure. The Vietnamese would have another, slower withdrawal schedule, but VN need to also normalize relationship with the west quickly. Despite their rhetoric about democratic and humane values the west was insisting on VN's scaling back its pressure on the Khmer Rouge.

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At school, we were taught when our army came close to Cambodia's capital. The world and Cambodia government think we tried to conquer them, that’s why we returned as our goal was almost completed, take down The Khmer Rouge.

It started from 5/1975 to 12/1978 The Khmer Rouge with the aid of China, they used their army to attack our country, with the thought: “Just kill a few dozen a day, kill a few thousand every month, kill a few thousand a year, then you can fight 10, 15, to 20 years. Perform 1 kill 30, sacrifice 2 million Cambodians to destroy 50 million Vietnamese”

Toward 1975 our army focused on the south where America took place of the French to control the Sai Gon government (I believe It's because of communism and capitalism stuff) America used Vietnam’people to kill Vietnam’people.

Meanwhile, from 1972 The Khmer Rouge killed many soldiers at military distinct 9, and attacked the hospital of division 1 located at Takeo province. In the first six months of 1972, we recorded 26 cases our soldiers have been killed by The Khmer Rouge, 385 kidnaps, 413 goods confiscation. 1973 The Khmer Rouge caused 102 cases with attacked, killed, robbed.

On January 3, 1976, they increased their influence by attacked Gia Lai - Kon Tum province. Burned houses, looted, and kidnapped 130 villagers.

Toward June 1976, they also attacked the provinces of Long An, Binh Phuoc, and Tay Ninh.

Due to being hunted by The Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1976, there were more than 15,000 Cambodia’people ran away from Cambodia to Vietnam to avoid being killed by The Khmer Rouge.

Border disputes and conflicts on May 4, 1975, the Khmer Rouge attacked Phu Quoc Island. Killed more than 500 innocent people. With anger, Hanoi counterattacked to regain these islands.

April 30, 1977, Pol Pot attacked 14/16 communes of An Giang province, destroyed many villages, schools, factories, killed many innocent people.


Even in the night, the Vietnamese 330th Division arrived in An Giang to counterattack and restore the areas occupied by the Khmer Rouge.

September 25, 1977, 9 divisions of the Khmer Rouge attacked the provinces of An Giang, Kien Giang, Long An, Dong Thap, Tay Ninh, many innocent people were killed, raped, burned houses, robbed 134 tons of rice, and much other crime.

December 31, 1977, Vietnam retaliated with 8 divisions, defeated 5 divisions of the Khmer Rouge, and approached Cambodia'Pray Veng province. And withdrew on January 5, 1978, which was taken as a warning to them. After that, Vietnam proposed a diplomatic solution to establish a demilitarized zone along the border, which Pol Pot refused.

December 31, 1977, Pol Pot unilaterally severed diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and fighting continued.

On February 1, 1978, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Pol Pot held a meeting to discuss anti-Vietnam policy and decided to establish 15 divisions. Their resolution read: “Just kill a few dozen a day, kill a few thousand a month, kill a few thousand a year, then you can fight 10, 15, to 20 years. Kill 30 people 1 time, sacrifice 2 million Cambodians, kill 50 million Vietnamese. Pol Pot sent 13 of the 17 main divisions and several local regiments to attack continuously into Vietnamese territory, about 15–20 km deep.

During those attacks, the Khmer Rouge carried out massacres against the Vietnamese, one example being the Ba Chuc massacre in April 1978 that left 3,157 civilians killed, of which more than 100 families were killed. Between 1975 and 1978, up to 30,000 Vietnamese were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the scope of their work. From May 1975 to December 23, 1978, the Khmer Rouge killed more than 5,230 Vietnamese civilians, wounded nearly 5,000, kidnapped or killed more than 20,000.

On February 5, 1978, the Government of Vietnam announced three points to suggest the two sides negotiate to avoid further bloodshed:

(1) Termination of military activities, withdrawal of armed forces 5 km from the border;

(2) Talks towards signing a treaty of possession and, without obsession, signing a treaty on the border;

(3) Agreement on a confidentiality agreement to format and secure international information and international surveillance.

Pol Pot refused, China refused to mediate, The United Nations did not respond to the Vietnamese government's protest against the Khmer Rouge's aggressive actions. Vietnam must turn to the use of force to resolve the conflict.

In fact, we helped Cambodians escape genocide.

For some reason, the user Goodi Shang deleted her comments, so I’ll put it here.





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Question: What made the Vietnamese leave Cambodia?

Answer: Vietnam invaded/liberated Cambodia to overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime and prevented any chance that the Khmer Rouge could retake power in Cambodia or joined the future of Cambodian politics.


In 1978–1979, Vietnam defeated their enemy - the Khmer Rouge, and helped to set up another Pro-Vietnamese government in Phnom Penh. However, the Khmer Rouge was still widely recognized as the legal representative of the Cambodian people in the United Nations and other international organizations backed directly by China and secretly by the US and the so-called Freedom world. Also, the Vietnam-backed government in Phnom-Penh was still very weak and could not be survived if the Vietnamese troops retreated out of Cambodian in 1979. It is why the current leader of Cambodia asked Vietnam to stay in Cambodia for another ten years from 1979–1989/1991.


The Vietnamese leaders shake hands with the Cambodian Leader)

During the late cold war, the Soviet Union was declining quickly. As result, the support of the Soviet Union to the Vietnamese war in Cambodia also went down that forced the Hanoi leaders should calculate carefully their wars in Cambodia.


(Soviet Union flag and the Vietnamese flag)

Also, the tension in the Chinese-US relation after the Tiananmen massacre 1989 ( the western media reported), both the US and China had no longer the same view on the Khmer Rouge, and later, China betrayed its loyal ally - the Khmer Rouge and re-contact with Vietnam and the Vietnamese-backed government to end the war in Cambodia. As result, the Khmer Rouge had never a chance to join the Cambodian politics again and only remained a weak war effort on the deeply Cambodian jungles without support from China. It ended officially its role in Cambodia in 1998 after the death of Pol pot - the main leader of the Khmer Rouge. A few years later, most of other the Khmer Rouge leaders were prosecuted in the international court for their crime and genocide against humans.


There were many other reasons such as the future normalization of the Chinese-Vietnamese relation, the US-Vietnamese relationship, a chance to open the Vietnamese economy as we see today apparent. Hence, the Vietnamese decided to leave Cambodia and let the Cambodian parties to resolve their own politics without joining the Khmer Rouge.


the Vietnamese troops retreated out of Cambodia

In conclusion : The Vietnamese left Cambodia for many reasons but the main and consistent reasons are due to the existence of the Khmer Rouge. They came to Cambodia because of the Khmer Rouge threat and also retreated out of Cambodia due to the existence of the Khmer Rouge was no longer a threat to Vietnam anymore, especially after China betrayed the Khmer Rouge and normalized the relationship with Vietnam in 1991.

Link: Googles.

Lusia Millar

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It probably has to do with personal and/or economic reason. I can’t speak for all the of my lads and lasses in Cambodia but I can recall some tales I heard from coffee-time gossips. There was a market ruined by fire along with its many stalls, some were owned by the Vietnamese, they came home after that. Then, there was a woman whose her Cambodian husband died due to cancer, she came home with her children to live with her mother. Also inter-border criminals looking to evade Cambodian polices. I’m sure there’re still a lot of people with more or less obscure reasons. Well, it’s life as usual.

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Cambodia new goverment can stand on their own feets that why we leave beside the U.N goons finally step in as peace keeper so as we have to pulled out since Khmer rouge is pretty much crippled and foreign powers stopped funding them so we need to rest and rebuild our home after 150years of colony and wars

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