Evidences to affirm Paracels Islands under Vietnam’s sovereignty

Posted at: TUEsday - 24/07/2012 09:40 - post name: Nguyễn Thị Thùy


According to the historical process of Vietnam, under the reign of the First Lord Nguyễn Hoàng (1558 - 1613) in mid-sixteenth century, Bai Cat Vang (Golden Sandbank), the old name of unowned Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa (Paracel Islands – Spratly Islands), was occupied by Cochinchina of Đại Việt without any disputes or deferral. At that time, the two confidential Champa Viet servants of Nguyễn Kim the Great tutor, Vũ Thì An and Vũ Thì Trung, brought their family to follow and serve the First Lord. Then, they helped the Lord to possess the golden sandbank located in the eastward sea of Cochinchina, which were feudally called the East Sea (Đông Hải) by Đại Việt or Jiaozhi Ocean (Jiaozhi Yang) by China.

Under the reign of Lord Sãi Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên (1613 – 1635), Japanese merchant Araki Sotaro took a royal princess in marriage and became the Lord Sãi’s descendant with the Viet name - Nguyễn Đại Lượng alias Hiền Hùng. By the name of Lord Sãi, he dispatched the Lord’s naval forces to the Golden Sandbank (Bãi Cát Vàng) to exploit seafood and collect goods and guns of the West sank ships there.

Later, our Confucian scholars used the Han name – Hoàng Sa Chử (Golden Sand Dune) or Đại Trường Sa (Grand Long Sand), Vạn Lý Hoàng Sa (Ten-Thousand-Li Golden Sand) hay Vạn Lý Trường Sa (Ten-Thousand-Li Long Sand) to call it while China called Hoàng Sa (Paracels) and Trường Sa (Spratlys) Ten Thousands Miles of Stone Pond (Wanglishitang) and Ten Thousands Leagues of Stone Pond, respectively.

At the end of the eighteenth century, thanks to the development of science and international marine, in 1787 – 1788, and thanks to Kergariou-Locmaria survey mission it was known that the Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbank) had two islands separated by more than 300 km: Hoàng Sa Islands (on the north) and Trường Sa Islands (on the south) that the West calls Paracel (Paracels or Pracels) and Sparly (or Spateley), respectively.

And the term Sisha (Tây Sa) and Nansha (Nam Sa) to indicate the Paracel and Spratlys are the toponyms that China set out in the 50th decade of the twentieth century which is used for their expansionist schemes.

I.  Historical evidences

A. The ancient bibliographies written by the Vietnam’s historians in the 18th and 19th century XVIII – XIX, under the reign of Lê and Nguyễn Dynasty shows that Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbank) – Đại Trường Sa (Grand Long Sand) have been long owned by Vietnam for a long time.

1.  Miscellany on the Pacification at the Frontier (Phủ Biên Tạp Lục):

This is an ancient book written by the great savant Lê Quý Đôn (1726-1784), who won the First Rank Doctorate Second Laureate (Bảng Nhãn) and served as Imperial Secretary (Thượng Thư), and Supersivor-in-Chief of Historiography Institute of Lê Dynasty. Written during the time of his rule in the areas, the book is about the situation of Thuan Hoa and Quang Nam districts.

The six-volume book was engraved in 1776. Especially, Volume II has twice mentioned quite detailedly that Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands are under the sovereignty of Vietnam.

On the page 78b – 79a of the Volume, the author wrote: “Outside its seaport called Ré Island are Đại Trường Sa Islands, in the past, there were plenty of sea products and other goods left from shipwrecks, Hoàng Sa detachments are organized to collect those products and goods, and it takes three full days to reach the islands.”

In other paragraph, the authors wrote: “The Nguyễns used to form a 70-strong Hoang Sa detachment made up of An Vĩnh villagers… was sent on duty in Giêng month (the first month of lunar year). They sailed in five fishing boats and reached the islands after a three day-and-night voyage. Once settled down on the islands, they are free to catch as many birds and fish for food as they like. Goods collected from ship wrecks include sabers, bronze hourses, jewelries, coins, porcelain rings, and fur.... The detachment returned in the eighth month of the year, entering Eo estuary to go to Phú Xuân Citadel to hand over the things it had gathered…”

2. Classified Rules of Dynasties (Lịch Triều Hiến chương loại chí):

This encyclopaedia includes 49 volumes by the great scholar Phan Huy Chú (1782-1840), Thị độc (Reader-in-Waiting) of the Hàn lâm viện (Imperial Academy), minuters of the Historiography Institute of Nguyễn Dynasty in 1821 under the reign of King Minh Mạng up to 1833 under the reign of king Tự Đức. Of which, there were the books of Geography of the Viet Empire (books 1 – 5) referred to Bãi Cát Vàng: “Bình Son District of Quang Ngai Prefecture includes the coastal commune of An Vinh. Offshore to the northeast of An Vinh are many islands and approximately 130 mountains separated by waters which can take from few watches to few days to travel across. Streams of fresh water can be found on these mountains. Within the islands is a 30-li long, flat and wide golden sand bank, on which the water is so transparent that one can see through. The islands have many swift nests and hundreds or thousands of other kinds of birds; they alight around instead of avoiding humans. There are many curios on the sandbank… The Nguyễn rulers have established Hoang Sa Flotilla with 70 sailors selected from An Vinh commune on a rotation basis. Selected sailors receive their order in the third month of every year, bring with them sufficient food for six months, and sail on five small fishing boats for three full days to reach the islands... The sailors return to mainland in the eighth month through Eo Seaport. On their return trip, they first sail to Phu Xuan Citadel...”

3.     The First Part of The Chronicles of Dai Nam (Đại Nam thực lục tiền biên):

This is the chronicle history compiled in each reign of the Nguyễns from the First Lord Nguyễn Hoàng to Lord Nguyễn Phúc Thuần (1558 – 1774) by the Historical Mandarins of the Nguyễn Dynasty from 1844 under King Thiệu Trị (1841 – 1847). The chronicle includes 13 volumes and in the volume 10 Vạn Lý Hoàng Sa (or Bãi Cát Vàng) was recorded: “The seventh month of Giap Tuat year (1753), Hoàng Sa Flotilla suffered the high winds and drifted on Quỳnh Châu Flotill of the Qing Dynasty. They were fully helped and sent off by the Qing viceroy, the Lord sent a thank-you letter to the Qing Dynasty. Offshore of An Vĩnh Commune, Bình Sơn District, Quảng Ngãi Prefecture, are more than 130 sandbanks whose distances from each other can take anywhere from a few watches to a few days to travel. They span an area of thousands of li, and are thus called “Vạn Lý Hoàng Sa”.  There are freshwater wells on the sandbanks, and sea products of the area include sea cucumber, sea turtles, volutes, and so on and so forth. Not long after the founding of the Dynasty, Hoàng Sa Flotilla was established with 70 sailors selected from An Vĩnh Commune. In the third month of every year, they sail for about three days to the islands. They collect goods there and return in the eighth month. There is also another flotilla named Bắc Hải, whose sailors are chosen from Tư Chính Village in Bình Cổ or Cảnh Dương Commune, ordered to sail to Côn Lôn islands of Bắc Hải to collect goods. This flotilla is under the command of Hoang Sa Flotilla2.

4.     The Main Part of The Chronicles of Dai Nam:

This is the voluminous historical books, began to be written in 1821 under King Minh Mang (1820-1841), consisting of 6 records, each record for each King era. In the first record, the 52nd volume under King Gia Long (1802-1820) wrote: “In the Bính Tý year, the 15th year of the reign of Gia Long (1816)… The Emperor commanded the naval forces and Hoàng Sa detachment to sail to Hoàng Sa for sea route survey.”

In the second record, volume 122 wrote, “In the Giap Ngo year, the 17th year of Minh Mạng (1834). The Giám thành Captain Trương Phúc Sĩ together with the Navy force of over 20 people was dispatched to the Hoàng Sa island of Quang Ngai Prefecture for mapping. Returning the mainland after finishing the map.”

Also in the second century, volume 167, the 17th year of Minh Mạng (1836), wrote: “Ministry of Public Works submitted a petition to His Majesty the Emperor, saying that: In the frontier of our country’s territorial waters, Hoàng Sa is a critical and hardly-accessible area. We have had the map of the area made; however, due to its wide and long topography, the map only covers part of it, and this coverage is not sufficiently detailed. We shall deploy people to the area for detailed sea route survey. From now on, in the last ten days of the first month of every year, we shall implore Your Majesty’s permission to select naval soldiers and the capital’s patrolmen to form a unit on a vessel. This unit shall travel to Quảng Ngãi within the first ten days of the second month, requesting the Provinces of Quảng Ngãi and Bình Định to employ four civilian boats to travel together to Hoàng Sa… They must observe and measure the topography and maps shall be drawn from these measurements and records... One and all must be recorded clearly and presented once they return. His Majesty the Emperor approved the petition, ordered the naval detachment commander Phạm Hữu Nhật to command a battleship and bring ten wooden steles to be used as markers in the area. Each wooden stele is five meter long, five decimeter wide, one meter thick, and is engraved with characters meaning: The 17th year of the Minh Mạng Era, the Bính Thân year, Detachment Commander Phạm Hữu Nhật of the Navy, complying with the order to go to Hoàng Sa for management and survey purposes, arrived here and therefore placed this sign.”

5.    Brief chronicle of the dynasty

As a geography book compiled by the Historiography Institute of Nguyen Dynasty in 1924, it includes 6 volumes written about the reign of Lord Gia Long until the descendents of the Nguyen. In volume 3 recorded: "They built ‘Hoàng Sa Thần Từ’ in Quang Nghia. Territorial Waters of Hoang Sa, in Quang Nghia had a white sand dunes, where there were many green trees. In the sand dunes, there is also a well. On the Southwest lied an ancient temple, a stele with four words "Vạn Lý Ba Bình" (calm sea for a thousand miles) on it. This white sand dune was also known as Buddhist Temple Mountain. On the south east coast, there existed coral reefs. There, it had a rocky hill with circumference of 340 trượng, one trượng and 3 meters high, same elevation with sand hills called Bàn Thang Thạch. The Lord ordered to build the temple and headstone in this place. In front of the temple, there was a screen".

Also in volume 3 recorded an event in the reign of King Minh Mang (1820-1841): “In the 12th lunar month, a British merchant ship sank at a shoal near Hoàng Sa. More than 90 British sailors were drifted to the coast of Bình Định. Emperor Minh Mạng provided them with shelter and food before ordering Nguyễn Tri Phương to send them to Hà Châu for their repatriation”

6.     The Geography of the Unified Đại Nam:

The geography book was written in 1865 under the command of King Tự Đức and completed in 1882 by Quốc sử quán (Historiography Institute) of the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802–1845), records: “In the east of Ré Island, from Sa Kỳ coast, it can take three or four days to sail to the islands under favorable wind. There are more than 130 small islands, separated by waters, which can take a few watches or a few days to go from one to another. Within the islands is the Hoàng Sa bank (Cát Vàng) spanning tens of thousands of miles and thus called Vạn Lý Trường Sa… The east of the island is near to Qiongzhou of Hainan district, China.”

7.    Brief History of Vietnam

As a history book of Vietnam, including seven volumes, was compiled by historian Nguyen Thong, a Bachelor under the Nguyen dynasty and completed in 1877 under King Tu Duc (1847-1883). In volume 4 wrote, "Vạn Lý Trường Sa belongs to Ly Son Island, Quang Ngai (Commonly called ngoài Lao (Vietnamese), ngoài La (Chinese)). Sailing from the east outwards, it takes just three days to arrive. Vietnam formerly often chose the able-bodied young men in An Hải and An Vĩnh to found Hoang Sa flotilla to collect seafood. Each year, they set out in February and go back in August."

Also, in the Vermillion Records of the Nguyen Dynasty contains many documents of Nguyen dynasty related to Paracels - Spratlys.

Through the contents of Vietnamese history book from Le to Nguyen Dynasty show that Paracels belong to Vietnam since the sixteenth century and Vietnam have acted as a nation with its sovereignty over the Paracels Islands based on the events such as building Hoàng Sa temple and forming Hoang Sa flotilla to control, plan sea routes, draw map and demarcate sovereignty, exploit resources, collect fees from foreign vessels and financially support foreigners suffering from boat wreckage on the Paracels, and facilitate their returning to home. By contrast, the fact that Qing helped Hoàng Sa flotilla whose vessels were drifted to Hai Nam to return Vietnam proves that China has long admitted Vietnam’s sovereignty over Paracel Islands

A number of books and ancient Western countries have shown that the Paracels were under the sovereignty of Vietnam from the Nguyen Lords.

1. Universe, history, astronomy and physics (La cosmographia istoria astronomica et fisica).

The book was written by Bagio Soria in 1828 in Naple. In section 4, volume VI wrote about empire of An Nam and on pages 128-131 wrote at that last sentence: "Belong to this empire is Hoang Sa (paracel Islands) including the islands and reefs in the east coast."This book is now stored in the library of the University of California, USA.

2. An account of voyage to Paracels (Journal de voyage au Paracels).

In the an account of voyage to paracels (France) published the article "Myth of coral atolls" (Mystere des atolls) by the French clergy, Jean Yves Cleays, about his case in which his ship was on the verge of sinking in the Paracel Islands in 1701 under Emperor Henri IV. Later, this article was re-published on the issue No. 6.1941 of the Indochina magazine (Revue Indochinoise), with contents as follows: "they weighed anchor when strong wind appeared and in a flash, it reached the Paracels. The Paracels Islands are one of achipelagoes under the sovereignty of the Annam Kingdom. It's a huge rock over a hundred miles long, which has been criticized for the shipwreck. There, the wind is always blowing; the rock is located along the coast of Cochinchina (formerly An Nam according to the notes by Jean notes Yves Cleays - that is, the Middle region today – according to our reference). Amphitrite ship in its journey to China seemed sunk there ... Shipwreck on the terrible rocks and losses of all properties seem to be nearly the same."

3. Universe, history, and an account of nations, religions, customs and practices (Univers, histoire et description de tous les peuples, de leurs religions, moeurs et coutumes)

This is a work of the French bishop, Jean Louis Tabert, published in 1833, which describes the ritual of occuppying the Paracel Islands in the presence of King Gia Long: "We're not going to list the major islands under the sovereignty of Cochinchina, but we observed that for more than 34 years, Paracels, also called Golden Sand or Hoàng Sa, a real maze of small islands and sandbanks, which feared the maritime sailors, has been possessed by those of the Cochinchina. We do not know whether they set up any base, but we make sure that Emperor Gia Long had to add more graphics to decorate their laurels because he deemed it necessary to go there in person at the right time to occupy it and it was in 1816 that the emperor solemnly raised their flag of the Cochinchina. "

In reality, the Paracels had been conquered far earlier than the mid-sixteenth century under Lord Sãi Nguyễn, Phước Nguyên. Anyway, the above historical records also showed that the Paracels long belonged to Vietnam.

4. History of the East India (Storia delle Indie Orientale).

The History book of East India by an Italian author, Felica Ripamonti East was written about the east India, including Vietnam, and printed in 1825 in Milan, in the Libro XXII from page 124-143 of the book dedicated to Cochinchina. On page 127, the author wrote, "The captains of merchant vessels regularly crossing this area are more likely to choose Hội An port, which is not far from Huế capital. Seafarers in the three ports (namely Huế, Hội An, and Đà Nẵng) are the most adept of this country and every year, they organized voyages to the small rocky island chain, called Hoang Sa, 20-30 miles from the shore of Cochinchina."

Here, the author refers to Hoàng Sa flotilla under the Nguyen Dynasty, who annually explored the Paracels to manage, demarcate its sovereignty, and exploit resources. This book is currently stored at the University of Michigan, USA.

C.    The ancient book of China’s history under the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), Yuan (1280 - 1368), and Qing (1614 - 1911) all show that the China’s territory has never covered Paracel and Spratly islands.


1.     Lĩnh Ngoại Đại Đáp (Lǐng wài dài dá)

In the Song dynasty, the book entitled Lĩnh Ngoại Đại Đáp by Châu Khứ Phi is mainly about the Southeast Asia. In the section of Giao Chỉ Dương (or the Southeast Asia Sea) also confirms, Thạch Đường (Paracel Island) and Spratly islands are located outside the territorial boundary of China.

2.     Chư Phiên Chí

This history book written by Zhao Rushi in 1225 under the Song Dynasty describes foreign countries, in which also confirms, Thiên Lý Thạch Đường and Vạn Lý Thạch Đường (also called Paracel islands and Spratly islands are located outside the territorial boundary of China.

3.     Daoyi Zhilue (Overview of barbarous island countries)

This geography book was written by Wang Dayuan in the Yuan Dynasty in 1349 about hundreds of countries around the world except China, in which there mentions Vạn Lý Thạch Đường in a separated section, not belonging to China.

4.     Hai-lu (Note on the sea voyage)

This geography book written by Yang Bing Nan in the reign of the Qing dynasty recorded nearly 100 countries in the world. In the record of GiaVa (Indonesia) mentioned Vạn Lý Thạch Đường and Thiên Lý Thạch Đường belonged to Southeast Asia, outside the territorial boundary of China

5.     Qiongzhoufuzhi (Gazeteer of Qiongzhou prefecture)

This history book was compiled by the Tiêu Khánh district in the 31st Qianlong year (1774), during the Qing dynasty. The book may be refered to the book the Geography of Hải Nam province today. In the Geographical section clearly wrote that China’s Hainan Island is bordered by "Champa on the south; Chenla and Giao chỉ (or Vietnam) on the West, Thiên Lý Trường Sa and Vạn Lý Thạch Đường on the East; and Tứ Văn district on the North, the Lei Chau". Thus, the southernmost point of China's is Hainan Island, no Paracels (Thiên Lý Thạch Đường) and Spratly (Vạn Lý Thạch Đường).

6.     Doanh Hoàn Chí Lược

This history book was compiled by Feng Wenzhang in 1848 under the Qing Dynasty, about the world geography, including the attached map entitled "The Geography of the Unified Hoàng Thanh" excluding Paracels and Spratly Islands, islands but drawing these archipelagoes in Southeast Asia on the map named "Nam Dương đảo đồ".

7.     Hai wai ji shi (Overseas chronicle)

This book, including 6 issues, was written by a Chinese author, Shi Dashan who used to work in Cochinchia of Đại Việt under Lord Nguyễn Phúc Chu (1691 - 1725) in 1694 - 1695 to transfer the Soto Zen and write about what he saw and heard. In issue IV wrote about Paracel Islands of Đại Việt: the sand bank stretches hundreds of li with endless length that cannot count, which is called “Vạn lý Trường Sa (Wanli Changsha) without any house and tree in sight; boats drifted by opposite wind, if not wrecked, would have no rice and no water and sailors would die of starvation. The place is from Đại Việt seven days of voyage, about 700 li. The previous kings ordered fishing boats to go along the sand bank every year to collect gold, silver and tools washed ashore from wrecked ships"

Through the ancient books of China’s history, the readers see that the Chinese authors wrote very clearly that the Paracels (Thiên Lý Thạch Đường) and Truong Sa (Vạn Lý Thạch Đường) have been located in the Southeast Asia, or Cochinchina of Đại Việt not China.

II. Geographical evidences

A.    Despite of limited number of Vietnam’s geographical maps under the Le dynasty and Nguyen dynasty, all of them clearly recorded Golden Sand – Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes belonged to the frontier of Vietnam.

1.     The Handbook of the South’s Road Map (Toản tập Thiên Nam tứ chí lệ đồ Thư)

This is a set of books about the geography, including four books which denote shape, river, sea and roads of our country. They were drawn by Đỗ Bá whose true name was Công Đào in 1771 under the reign of Lord Lê Hiền Tông (1740-1786) and Nguyễn Phúc Thuần (1765-1775) according to the order of Lord Trịnh Sâm (1767-1782) as a state document.

In the atlas drawing the Bãi Cát Vàng and on the pages 70-167 recorded the content about it. We would like to quote one phrase of main content here: “In the middle of the river lies a long sand strip named Golden Sand bank (Bãi Cát Vàng) of about four hundred miles in length and twenty miles in width, standing vertically up, etc. At the end of the winter annually, Nguyen Lord took eighteen fishing boats to the sand bank to collect goods, material products, much gold, money, guns, cartridges and other materials.

In this atlas also contains the “Road across Quang” map (Đường qua xứ Quảng) which draws the Golden Sand as well.

2.     The Complete Map of the Unified Đại Nam (Đại Nam thống nhất toàn đồ)

Beside the aforementioned geographical maps, another map drew our country quite carefully and correctly, called The Complete Map of the Unified Dai Nam. Some of our researchers considered that this map was drawn by mandarins under the Nguyen dynasty between 1839 and 1840 under Minh Mang King (1820-1841).

On the outside South Sea map clearly recorded that “Hoang Sa” was a long cluster of islands, opposite to the Main Gate (Cửa Đại), Da Nang Gate inside the mainland, meanwhile Truong Sa Archipelago with many islands lying opposite to geographical areas of Phu Yen – Khanh Hoa provinces was recorded with the name“Vạn Lý Trường Sa”.

Thus, the ancient maps drawn by the Vietnamese madarins in the 18th – 19th century show that the Vietnamese feudal state claimed that Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa Islands belonged to Vietnam.

B. Many geographical books and maps of the authors, explorers, mariners, and Western Priests mentions that Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbank) – Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa Islands are under the sovereign of the Kingdom of An Nam.

1.Địa lý học hình thể và chính trị (Geografia Fisica et Politica).

The book of the ancient geography compiled by the Italian author Galant Luiji and published in 1834 in Naples. It reads in Volume III, pages 197-198: “Finally, we must refer to a maze of islands located east of Đàng Trong (Cochincina) called Hoàng Sa (Parcel or Percel) consisting of small islands and shallow waters ... They are under the rule of  the kingdom of Annam, as well as the archipelago of Pirati, east of Đàng Ngoài (Tonkin).”

2. Hiểu biết mới về địa lý (Nuovo compendio di geographia).

The book “Nuovo di Geografia compendio” by the Italian authors Balbi and his partners that was published in Milano in 1865 also reads in part: “In the possession of this empire there are the archipelagos of Hoàng Sa (Paracel), Pirate and Côn Sơn (Pulo Condor)” in pages 642 and 643.

3. Địa lý hiện đại thế giới (Geografia moderna universale).

The geographical encyclopedia written by G. R. Pagnozzi, published in Firenze (Florence) in 1823 reserves a number of pages (182-212) of Volume III about the Kingdom of Annam (Isole del l’Annam) and in pages 207 and 208 refers to Hoàng Sa (Paracel), Cù Lao Chàm (callas), Côn Đảo (Polo Condor), Đảo Nghi Sơn (Bientson) of the Kingdom.

4. Lược giản Địa lý (Abrege de Geographie).

Page 768 of “Abrégé de geographie” written by Adriano Balbi that was published in Paris in 1838, refers to the Kingdom of An Nam (Cochinchine) with a number of Vietnamese geographical names such as Hoàng Sa, Huế, Hội An, Đà Nẵng, Nha Trang, Phú Yên, Quy nhơn.

5. A Balbi’s Allegemeine des geographischen Wissens

This book published in German in 1842 reserved a lot of paragraphs about Hoàng Sa Islands of the Kingdom of An Nam.

6. Map of outside India and East India Islands (Karte von Hinter – Indien und den Ostindischen).

Maritime explorers and Western priests in the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century drew dozens of maps of Asia including Đại Việt. Perhaps, the earliest map of Asia was established by the Portuguese explorer, Diego Ribeiro in 1527 on which Bãi Cát Vàng was illustrated as a great reef located on the East Coast.

Especially, on the "Map of outside India and East India Islands," printed by author E. G. Ravenstein in 1874 (King Tự Đức) on which the Paracels has been clearly shown as part of An Nam: Paracel In (zu An Nam) means that the Paracels belong to An Nam.

Through the ancient records on the geography written by the Western countries from the 16th century to the 19th century show Bãi Cát Vàng Paracel islands belong to Vietnam for a long time.

C. Adversely, the ancient books of geography and the map of China obviously show that Bãi Cát Vàng - Paracels, Spratlys has never been a part of China’s territory, never under the sovereignty of China.

1.     China’s map in Yuan period

In the book Maps of the frontiers in successive epochs written by a Chinese author, Duan Changyi under the Qing Dynasty containing a Chinese map under the Yuan Dynasty (1280 - 1360) indicates that the border of the China’s southernmost border ends with Hainan Island coastline, excluding Xisha and Nansha Islands.

2.     Hai Guo Tu Zhi (Hải Quốc đồ chí)

This 60-volume ancient atlas of China was written by a Chinese author, Wei Yuan in 1842 under the Qing Dynasty (1641-1911). In volume 6, the authors draw "Illustrated Treatise on the Maritime Kingdoms " (Đông Dương các quốc diên cách đồ), on which Đại Việt’s map was divided into 3 parts: Việt Nam Đông Đô, Việt Nam Tây Đô (Thanh Nghệ) và Quảng Nam (Cochinchina); The sea was marked by the name Đông Dương Đại Hải (Indochina sea) and the map indicated that Vạn Lý Trường Sa (Paracel) và Thiên Lý Thạch Đường (Spratly) under Vietnam's sovereignty. The author did not draw Xisha Islands (Tây Sa) and Nansha Islands (Nam Sa).

3.     Brief geography of the globe (Ying Huan Zhi Lue)

This book was written by a Chinese author, Feng Wenzhang in 1848 under Qing dynasty, about the world’s geography. According to the book, Trường Sa (or Hoàng Sa) and Thạch Đường (or Trường Sa) are not marked on the map of china - “The Geography of the Unified Hoàng Thanh”, but on that of Southeast Asian Nations - “Nam Dương các đảo đồ” (tạm dịch là Map of islands in the Southeast Asia Sea).

4.     Map of Vietnam geography (Việt Nam địa dư đồ)

Vietnam’s Map was drawn by a great Chinese mandarin, Xa Khâu Từ Diên Húc during the Qing perio. On the map, the author particularly called Vietnam and included the names of many provinces of our country under the Nguyen Dynasty such as Cao Bang, Quang Yen, Son Tay, Phu Xuan, etc. Especially, on the Southeast Asia Sea indicated Xiao Changsha Haikou (Tiểu Trường Sa Hải Khẩu), and Da Changsha Haikou (Đại Trường Sa Hải Khẩu), and acknowledged that Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa belonged to Vietnam!

5.    General Map of the Unified Empire (Hoàng Triều nhất thống dư địa đồ)

Huangchao Yitong Yudi Zongtu (General Map of the Unified Empire) was published in the 20th year of Guangxi reign (1894) of Qing Dynasty. The map only draws China's southernmost border- Hainan Island and clearly indicates that the southernmost terminus of Chinese territory is “Yazhou, Qiongzhou prefecture, Guangdong at latitude 18034’ North”; there were no Xisha and Nansha Islands, as they are called in Chinese.

6.     Guangdong Yu Di Tu (Quảng Đông dư địa đồ)

The geographical map was published under the reign of Guangxi (1897) of Qing Dynasty prefaced by the Governor of the two Guang, Zhang Renjun. The map did not represent any archipelagoes of the South Asia Sea in match with China's southernmost - the Coast of Hainan Island.

7.     A Textbook of Chinese Geography - Zhongguo dili jiaokeshu (Trung Quốc Địa lý học Giáo Khoa Thư)

This book was compiled by Tu Ji in the 31st year of Guangxi reign (1905) of Qing Dynasty and published in 1906. In the Volume I, it clearly wrote about the Chinese territorial boundaries: “In the South at 18°13 latitude North, the terminus being the coast of Yazhou, island of Hainan…” and did not refer to Xisha and Nansha Islands as China has been always claiming.

The geographical documentaries written by the Chinese authors themselves show that from the ancient to the present time, China has never had sovereignty over Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa Islands and never have the islands belonged to China's territory.

III. Legal evidences

According to the International Law on sovereignty, the sovereignty of a country must meet three following regulations on occupancy and control:

- The property must not be owned by any (res nullius).

- The occupant must be a country or a Representative of the Country; any private or individual ownership have no legal validity of sovereignty;

- The occupancy country must show its presence and the ongoing management activities on the territory;

- If the country occupies a territory by means of force, this action has no validity under the international law on sovereignty.

1. Hoàng Sa Islands are always located in the Vietnam’s organizational structure

Vietnam had occupied Hoàng Sa Islands in the mid-16th century when it was an unowned territory without any disputes or deferral in the feudal age. Hoàng Sa Islands has been always a part of the national organizational structure of Vietnam. From the beginning, in a long time, Hoang Sa had been a realm of An Vinh commune, Binh Duong district, Quang Nghia Prefecture under the administration of Quang Nam palace for over 300 years.

In the World War II context (1939 - 1945), on March 30th, 1938 King Bảo Đại released the Edict No. 10 deciding the integration of the Hoàng Sa archipelago into the province of Thừa Thiên.

After the August Revolution in 1945, in the 1950 Resistance War against the French Colonialism, Administrative Resistance Committee of Da Nang has established Administrative Resistance Committee of Hoang Sa.

Under the Republic of Vietnam, on July 17th, 1961 President Ngo Dinh Diem signed a decree No. 174-Vietnam incorporated Hoang Sa into the Quang Nam province and called it Định Hải commune.

On October 21st, 1969, Interior minister of the Republic of Vietnam Trần Thiện Khiêm issued the Decree No. 709/BNV/HCDP/26 merging the Định Hải commune in Hòa Long commune of Hòa Vang District, Quảng Nam Province.

After the national unification, the Council of Ministers of Socialist Republic Vietnam made the Decision No. 194-HĐBT dated on December 9, 1982 on the establishment of the Hoang Sa district, as part of Quảng Nam – Đà Nẵng province.

Until January 23rd, 1997, after separating Quảng Nam – Đà Nẵng into two administrative units ( Đà Nẵng City and Quảng Nam province), Hoàng Sa district has belonged to Đà Nẵng up till now.

2. Exercise of the Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoàng Sa Islands

The exercise of the Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoàng Sa Islands has been expressed via many actions such as performing protection and surveillance activities, building facilities, marking demarcation of sovereignty, exploiting resource, etc. in a continuous management process.

Under the feudalism age, the Nguyễn dynasty established Hoàng Sa Flotilla, annually carried surveillance activities to protect Hoàng Sa Islands in the six-month dry season from the second month to the eighth month of the lunar calendar. They were responsible for setting up voyage, mapping, marking demarcation of sovereignty, collecting fee of foreign vessels, and exploiting resources. The Bắc Hải Flotilla was responsible for outreaching and exploiting natural resources in Trường Sa Islands.

Under the French regime, from 1883 after the Harmand Treaty which says France represents Vietnam in the management of Hoàng Sa Islands.

On 26 June 1887, France and China concluded the Tianjin Convention delimiting the frontier between Tonkin of Vietnam and China (which implicitly means that Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa Islands of Vietnam were represented by France).

After the First World War (1914 – 1918), France had raised their interest in the protection of the Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa. On 8 March 1925, the Governor General of Indochina declared the Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa Islands to be France’s territory.

In May 1932, the gunboat Alerte was sent to Hoàng Sa Islands by the Indochina Governor. In June 1932, the Oceanographic Institute of Indochina sent the trawler de Lanessan to Hoàng Sa Islands for the third scientific research. On 28 February 1937, the sloops Savorgnan de Brazza was dispatched to Hoàng Sa Islands and spot the Japanese and illegally exploited guano on Woody Island (Phú Lâm island) of Amphitrite Group (An Vĩnh Group). In March 1938, the Indochina Governor Palace sent its navy force to actually occupy the entire Paracels.

In 1938, Governor General of Indochina Palace and Hue Court erected a 3-metre marker on Pattle Island (Paracels or Hoàng Sa), bearing the inscription:  “Republique Francaise – Royaume d’Annam – Archipel des Paracels 1816 – Ile Pattle 1938” (which means “French Republic – Kingdom of Annam – Paracels Archipelago 1816 – Pattle Island 1938”).

Under the era of Bảo Đại government and the Republic of Vietnam, in April 1949, at a speech given in Saigon, Prince Bửu Lộc, chef de cabinet in the Government of Emperor Bảo Đại, publicly reaffirmed Vietnam's rights to the Paracels. On 14 October, the French Government officially transferred control of the archipelagoes to the Government of Bao Dai. On 7 May 1951, in the San Francisco Conference, Trần Văn Hữu – the Prime Minister of the Vietnam’s Government of Bảo Đại solemnly declared that the two archipelagoes fell within Vietnam’s territory. This declaration elicited no disagreement from any of 51 delegates. On 1 June 1956, Vũ Văn Mẫu – the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Vietnam re-claimed Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa Islands. On 22 February 1958, 82 Chinese fishermen tried in vain to settle in Hữu Nhật, Quang Hòa, and Duy Mộng islands; then they were captured and evicted by the Republic of Vietnam Navy. On 12 January 1974, the High Command of Republic of Vietnam Navy sent Cruiser Ly Thuong Kiet to Hoàng Sa Islands for the guard-patrol. On 14 February 1975, the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Vietnam released the White Papers on Hoang Sa and Truong Sa and re-asserted Vietnamese sovereignty over the two archipelagoes.

3. Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Declaration (Tuyên bố Cairo và Tuyên ngôn Potsdam)

During the World War II, Japanese fascists occupied Chinese Manchuria in 1931, Formosa on March 14th, 1939, and the Pescadores. To combat against the invasion of Japan, on 26 November 1943, President of United States Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister of United Kingdom Winston Churchill, and President of China Chiang Kai-shek secretly met in Cairo, Egypt and released the Cairo Declaration in which the three Allies agreed that: “It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the First World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.”

Then, on July 26th, 1945 the United States, United Kingdom, and China announced the Potsdam Declaration and once again the representatives of the three countries confirmed the Cairo Declaration. After declaring war on Japan in the Far East, the Soviet Union also signed the Declaration Potsdam4.

Thus, China signed the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Declaration in which there was no record saying Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa Islands belonged to China because of the fact that the Islands are under the sovereignty of Vietnam, which is represented by France.

Therefore, on September 8th, 1951, the Peace Treaty signed between the allies and Japan indicated that Japan had to give up all of its power, capacity and demand on Hoàng Sa Islands and Trường Sa Islands and also did not mention the return of these islands to China.

Thus, at that time the permanent members of the Security Council United Nations, including United States, United Kingdom, Russia, and France, all sided with Vietnam in Hoàng Sa issue.

4. China’s process of illegal invasion on Hoang Sa

China has ploted to invade Vietnam’s Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa Islands since the age of Republic of China.

On 15 August 1945, the Japanese Nazi surrendered itself to the Allies. After returning to Indochina, the French army could not send its forces to guard Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa Islands promptly. At that time, on 29 October 1946, the armies of Chiang Kai-shek gave disarming Japanese troops as a pretext (actually there were no the Japanese troops any more), they sent four battleships to Woody Island (Phú Lâm island) of the Amphitrite Group (An Vĩnh Group) of Hoàng Sa Islands; and on 7 January 1947, China announced that they “took back” the island (!).

The French government lodged an official protest and required the army of Chiang Kai-shek to retreat, but they did not follow. The French later sent a detachment of French and Vietnamese soldiers to establish a garrison on Hoàng Sa Island of Crescent Group.

In April 1950, the Chinese civil war became unfavourable to the Kuomintang; Chiang Kai-shek's troops automatically withdrew from Phú Lâm Island and Linh Côn Island (Lincoln Island). On the occasion, the French seized control of the entire Hoàng Sa Islands.

By 1956, the French was defeated in Indochina war and had to withdraw its troops out of Vietnam. Taking advantage of the fact that Bảo Đại’s military could not promptly replace the France’s army in Hoàng Sa Islands, in April 1956, China once again illegally occupied the entire An Vĩnh group in the east of Hoàng Sa Islands, which stirred the governments of the North and the South of Vietnam. Under these circumstances, the troops of Republic of Vietnam just garrisoned the Nguyệt Thiềm Group westernward of Hoàng Sa Islands.

In February 1972, the U.S. and China issued the Shanghai Joint Communiqué and “America wants to hand over Hoàng Sa to China to block the entrance roads into the northern Vietnam of the Soviet fleet.” On 17 January 1974, under the support of U.S, China attacked Nguyệt Thiềm Group and used the power of navy, army, and air forces to occupy Nguyệt Thiềm Group on 20 January 1974, which violated the International Law on sovereignty for invading Vietnam as a sovereign territory.

The Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam announced its stance, affirmed Vietnam's sovereignty, and requested to resolve the dispute through peaceful negotiations. However, China still maintained its unruly behavior; on 12 March 2007, they approved the establishment of district-level Sansha city of Hainan Province, including Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa of Vietnam.

On 3 February 2007, Vietnam protested against the establishment of the Sansha City and required to resolve the dispute through the basis of International Law on sovereignty and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The dark conspiracy of China has been to invade the whole South-East Asia. Thus, China is translating into action the July 30, 1977 declaration made by former Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua: “The Chinese territory spreads down to the James Shoals near Sarawak (Malaysia)… You can carry out exploration as you wish. When the time comes, however, we will retrieve those islands. There will be no need then to negotiate at all, these islands having since long ago belonged to China…”

Due to this, the map of “the People's Republic of China” published in 1950 and the recent Chinese maps drew the borders of China – “cow-tongue” from the East Sea (Biển Đông) to a 40 north latitude, about 80% of the Southeast Asia Sea including the islands of Southeast Asia and China also announced what they call the South China Sea (actually, the Southeast Asia Sea) to be their “core interests”.

The East Asian countries, including Vietnam, opposed the map China’s “cow-tongue” (or “9-segment line” map), for according to the International Law on sovereignty, China should have confirmed its sovereignty over the territory a long time ago, before 1950s of the 20th century. Thus, the map has no international value of sovereignty. Once the dialogue could not be performed, there is the International Law on sovereignty, the Hamburg Rules, and International Court of Justice in the Hague to solve it.

5. Công pháp Quốc tế

We set out here the unprejudiced conclusion of Monique Chemillier Gendreau, a female jurist specialized in international law, on the sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands in her book “Sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands” (La souverainete sur lesarchipels Paracels et Spaley) published in 1996. She confirmed:

 “Close scrutiny of the references produced by the Chinese certainly reveals an awareness, far back in time, of the existence of many islands scattered throughout the South China Sea (East Sea). However, such references do not take us any further and are not enough to substantiate the claim that China was the first to discover, exploit, develop and administer the archipelagos.

This is also the logical conclusion when, disregarding the verbose assertions in many works or articles, we examine the elements put forward in support of an ancient title with respect to China.

On the other hand, from the early 18th century onwards, the evidence of Annamese administration is well established…

Thus, in the context of the 18th century, it may be said that: at the time the existence of the Paracels was generally known; China has been unable to invoke any act of taking possession corresponding to the criteria described above; Vietnam possesses, in the work of Le Qui Don (Miscellany on the Pacification at the Frontier - engraved in 1776), the first documentmentioning acts corresponding to a certain administration of the archipelago, dating from the early years of the 18th century.

As seen in the preceding section, the Chinese documents fail to establish any acquisition of sovereignty in the period prior to the early 18th century. Lastly, it will be noted that, when China alleges vassalage in order to claim that the rights acquired by Vietnam would revert to it, then (if the argument of vassalage is rejected) China nevertheless acknowledges that rights had indeed been acquired. They cannot but have been acquired by Vietnam.”

In addition, during the broadcast on the evening of January 1st, 1999 on the French radio station RFI, Monique Gendreau Chemillier analyzed the recent developments on Hoàng Sa Islands and confirmed that “Vietnam is the only country with enough historical evidence to assert sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. China has no solid historical foundations to claim its sovereignty over the Southeast Asia Sea Islands.”

Thus, China used force to appropriate Amphitrite Group (An Vĩnh group) in the east of Hoàng Sa archipelago in May 1954 and Crescent Group (Nguyệt Thiềm Group) in the west on January 20th, 1974, a division territory under the oldest sovereignty of Vietnam, which led to the violation of United Nations Charter, International Law on sovereignty and sovereignty of Vietnam.

The Chinese authorities must return Hoàng Sa islands to Vietnam!.



Author: Nguyễn Phước Tương – Translated by Nga Nguyen
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