February 20, 1979 – China reports it has “taught Vietnam a lesson” and pulled its troops back across the border, just three days after the invasion began. Peking radio reported the operation was considered a success. Radio Hanoi reported the Chinese troops were “in place’ and had advanced no further than they had on the first day; some six miles into Vietnam. Hanoi said its troops had killed some 1,500 Chinese the day before, and that was down from the total of 3,500 they claimed to have killed in the first two days of fighting. Sources said the Vietnamese had held back their best regular army units from the border throughout the fighting, apparently trying to avoid being dragged into a battle with the Chinese they might lose. So, as of this day it appeared the Chinese were pulling back their 100,000 men who were inside Vietnam before the Soviet Union would feel compelled to come to the aid of Hanoi and possibly set off a larger conflict. Other reports claimed China had miscalculated Vietnam’s military strength, as a result the invading Chinese did not fight any Vietnamese regular army troops, instead fighting border guards and Vietnamese Militia units. One unidentified Chinese source said it was Beijing’s aim to inflict heavy damage on Vietnam’s regular Army forces as a way to exact punishment for Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia.
In other news – President Carter was getting ready to deliver an address on Foreign Policy; namely, our position on the SALT treaty. That address was slated to be given later on in the day and was scheduled to be broadcast.
In Iran – Ayatollah Khomeini’s Revolutionary committee announced the execution of four more ranking officers in the Shah’s old Imperial Army. The three Generals and the one Brigadier General were summarily executed by firing squad before dawn this morning.Four others, including the former head of SABAK, the Shah’s secret police were executed after trial by the Revolutionary Court earlier in the week. Iran’s new government was believed to be holding at least 24 men and civilian administrators on charges of torture, treason and corruption under the Shah’s regime.
And that’s just a little of what happened, in this rather fractious February 20, 1979, as reported by The CBS World News Roundup and The World Tonight.