Vietnam tonight rejected China's claims to have withdrawn all its troops from Vietnamese soil and accused the Chinese of looting five border provinces.
Radio Hanoi's denial of Peking's announcement yesterday of an end to its 27-day invasion of Vietnam included a proposal, however, that talks begin Friday on normalizing relations between the two countries if all Chinese troops had withdrawn by then.
Analysts here suggested that the Chinese were still holding some disputed border hills previously in Vietnamese hands to prevent them from being used in future attacks on Chinese roads and border communities. Each side has accused the other of moving huge stone pillars marking their 700-mile border.
China announced that it had withdrawn all its troops by early Friday, but Hanoi, reporting on the situation through the end of Friday, said Chinese troops still occupy its territory in several places.
Radio Hanoi reported that Nguyen Thinh, head of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry's Chinese department, made the negotiation proposal to the Chinese charge d'affaires in Hanoi today. Thursday, Hanoi had said talks could begin "one week after the complete withdrawal of Chinese troops to the other side of the historical borderline which the two sides have undertaken to respect."
Vietnam suggested meeting in Hanoi or Lang Son, a Vietnamese border town reportedly devastated in the biggest battle of the brief war. There was no official response to the proposal from Peking, although an editorial in today's official People's Daily welcomed earlier Vietnamese expressons of "willingness to negotiate."
Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping (Teng Hsiao-ping) indicated today that negotiations with Vietnam could begin within a week. He told U.S. journalists in Peking that "we already had stated our cooperation to have negotiations."
"Now the Vietnamese have accepted our proposals on negotiations and we will respond," he said.
The official Vietnameses press continued to lambast China for its alleged threat to Laos, the nation of 3 million population bordering both China and Vietnam. Hanoi's official daily Nhan Dan said Chinese agents in Laos were saying "China will punich Laos on certain days," the same language used by Peking during the invasion of Veitnam that began Feb. 17.
China's Poeople's Daily, at the same time, said Vietnamese actions such as harassment of the withdrawing Chinese troops, shelling of Chinese border areas and calls for continued conflict with China "make people doubt the Vietnamese authorities' sincerity in settling the dispute through negotiations."
The Chinese editorial warned: "If the Vietnamese authorities... continue to carry out armed incursions against China's border areas, Chinese frontier troops will resolutely counterattack."
For the first time Chinese gave a detailed account of the key March 5 victory over Vietnamese forces defending Lang Son. China's official news agency admitted that the invasion was called off within hours after the China's completed the capture of Lang Son, confirming the importance of the battle in China's scheme to prove it had "punished" Hanoi.
Analysts here said the military situation and the chances fro renewed fighting between the two sides remained unclear. Foreign observers suggested the Chinese wanted to keep some disputed border areas for bargaining purposes and as a way to end harassment of their border communities, who vigorously applauded China's invasion of Vietnam.
Hanoi appeared to be continuing to move troops within the country, to correct what one analyst called a "thinning" of the ranks in the north because of border war losses. Analysts have said about 5,000 to 10,000 Vietnamese troops have been moved out of neighboring Cambodia with the help been moved out of neighboring Cambodia with the help of Soviet transport aircraft, but it was not clear if they would be moved to the Chinese border area.
The Chinese continued to pay close attention to Soviet actions as a result of the invasion. Chinese naval officers recently grilled visiting Americans familiar with U.S. involvement in South Vietnam on the size, configuration and equipment available at the huge southern Vietnamese naval base and port at Cam Ranh Bay. The Chinese have said privately for several months that they susect the Soviet Navy may begin to make extensive use of the base.
The Chinese editorial today said the deterioration of Sino-Vietnamese relations and the outbreak of the border war "was entirely the result" of Vietnamese "expansionism" and hostility toward China pursued "at the backing of Soviet social-imperialism."
In yesterday's announcement of China's pullout from Vietnam, Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua said, "If there were any disputes [over the location of the border] they were not big ones. The total amount would be some several scores of square kilometers. There disputes arose mainly because of actions taken by the Vietnamese in recent years," according to Reuter in Peking.
Several analysts have said they think Peking is creating a dispute over the location of the border that did not exist before in order to try to wring concessions out of Hanoi on its close cooperation with China's enemy, the Soviet Union, and its occupation of Cambodia, a country led until January by a pro-Peking government.