This article reevaluates the 1789 Tây Sơn victory against Qing forces by focusing on the Lê loyalists throughout the years preceding and following the pivotal battle of January 1789. Drawing from a wide array of Chinese and Vietnamese sources, it highlights the agency of the Lê loyalists and the complexity of Sino-Vietnamese relations in practice, thereby challenging simplistic narratives that pit the South (Vietnam) against the North (China).

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