Vietnam’s troubled relationship with China is a common topic of conversation on the streets of Hanoi. Beijing’s maritime aggression is a very real concern for locals, and with the recent 35th anniversary of the Sino-Vietnamese war, China remains the chief bogeyman in the collective Vietnamese consciousness. Paranoia is rife and readily accepted as fact – Chinese companies deliberately exporting poisoned watermelons to Hanoi being among the most absurd claims. Despite having been a French colony, ravaged by the United States, and torn apart by a twenty-year civil war, most Vietnamese still hold China to be the nation’s perennial enemy. Amid a backdrop of deteriorating regional security, the origins of this animosity demand closer examination.