VietNamNet Bridge – Historical and legal evidences shows indicate Vietnam’s uncontroversial sovereignty of the Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel Islands).
On January 19 2011, the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China (www.scio.gov.cn) published the following information about China’s occupation of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa Archipelago in 1974 as follows: “On January 19 1974, the soldiers and people of our Xisha Islands (China) defended ourselves against South Vietnam puppet troops, who unceasingly violated our territorial waters, our airspace, robbed islands and caused injury to our fishermen to defend our territorial sovereignty”.
Tuan Vietnam (VietNamNet) would like to provide some material that proves Vietnam’s uncontroversial sovereignty of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.
Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos
Vietnamese people discovered the two archipelagos a long time ago. The Vietnamese State has owned and performed its sovereignty over the two archipelagos continuously and peacefully.
Many ancient geographic books and ancient maps of Vietnam clearly noted Bai Cat Vang, Hoang Sa, Van Ly Hoang Sa, Dai Truong Sa or Van Ly Truong Sa (different names of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos) as parts of Vietnam’s territory.
A map book titled “Thien Nam Tu Chi Lo Do Thu” compiled by Do Ba (Cong Dao) in the mid-17th century had a caption below the map of Quang Ngai: “There is a long sand bank in the middle of the sea called Bai Cat Vang (Hoang Sa). The Nguyen Dynasty annually sent 18 boats to the bank in the last month of winter to collect goods, mainly gold and silver, coins, weapons”.
In the map of southern Vietnam drawn by duke Bui The Dat in 1774, Bai Cat Vang (Hoang Sa) was a part of Vietnam’s territory.
In “Phu bien tap luc”, a book written by famous scholar Le Quy Don in 1776 when he was appointed as a mandarin in southern Vietnam, Le Quy Don wrote clearly that Dai Truong Sa Islands (Hoang Sa and Truong Sa) belonged to Quang Ngai province. The scholar described the terrains and sea products of the islands in details.
According to this ancient book, foreign cargo ships often landed at these archipelagos to shelter from storms. The Nguyen Dynasty formed the Hoang Sa flotilla with 70 sailors, who were recruited from An Vinh commune. This flotilla was sent to Hoang Sa from March to August to collect seafood and goods from merchant ships.
Some documents signed by mandarins of the Nguyen Dynasty in 1786 wrote about this flotilla.
Bishop Jean-Louis Taberd in an articled entitled “Note on Geography of Cochinchina (Vietnam)”, which was published in 1837, described “Pracel or Paracels” as the territory of Cochinchine. The article also said that Cochinchine people called Pracel or Paracels as “Cat Vang”.
In a book of maps of An Nam (Vietnam) published in 1838, the bishop drew “Paracel or Cat Vang” as territory of An Nam.
“Dai Nam Nhat Thong Toan Do”, a book of maps published in 1838 by the Nguyen Dynasty noted “Hoang Sa” (No.1) – “Van Ly Truong Sa” (No.2) as Vietnam’s territory.
“Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi”, a Vietnam geographic book published by the Nguyen Dynasty in 1882 also wrote that Hoang Sa belonged to Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province.
The book also described the Hoang Sa flotilla.
Many Western navigators and priests confirmed that Hoang Sa (Pracel or Paracel) is Vietnam’s territory.
A Western priest who was on Amphitrite ship that ran from France to China in 1701 wrote in a letter: “Pracel is an archipelago of An Nam (Vietnam)”.
J.B. Chaigneu, the advisor of Vietnamese King Gia Long, wrote in his Memoir of Cochinchine (Vietnam) (Le mémoire sur la Cochinchine de J.B. Chaigneau) in 1820 that Cochichine includes Cochinchinne an Dong Kinh, some populated islands that are not far from the coast and Paracel Archipelago.
In the article “Geography of the Cochinchinese (Vietnam) Emprire” in The Jounal of the Royal Geography Society of London, published in 1849, there is a paragraph stating that Paracels is Vietnam’s territory and noted the Vietnamese name as “Cat Vang”.
As the owner of Hoang Sa archipelago, Vietnamese feudal courts conducted many surveys at the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos. The survey results were written in many historical and geographic books written by scholars of the Nguyen Dynasty in the 17th century, including “Toan Tap Thien Nam Tu Chi Lo Thu”, “Dai Nam Thuc Luc Tien Bien”, “Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi”, “Lich Trieu Hien Chuong Loai Chi”, “Hoang Viet Dia Du Chi”, “Viet Su Cuong Giam Khao Luoc”, etc.
Hoang Sa and Truong Sa have many valuable seafood and goods left behind by wrecked ships so as the owner, Vietnamese feudal governments exploited the two archipelagos for a very long time through the Hoang Sa flotilla. Many historical documents describe these exploitations.
After the Nguyen Lords, Tay Son Dynasty still maintained the Hoang Sa flotilla and explored the archipelago to exercise its ownership over the archipelago.
After the Tay Son Dynasty, the Nguyen Dynasty tried to strengthen Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.
Besides the Hoang Sa flotilla, Bac Hai flotilla was established to control Hoang Sa and Truong Sa from 1558 to 1945, under the dynasties of Lords Nguyen (1558-1783), Tay Son (1786-1802) and Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945).
The above evidence proves that Vietnam owned the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos for hundreds of years, from dynasty to dynasty. The presence of the Hoang Sa flotilla on these archipelagos is a clear evidence for Vietnam’s practice of sovereignty right over the two archipelagos. Vietnam’s ownership and exploitation of the two archipelagos were not protested by any country and it means that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa has been Vietnam’s territory for a very long time.
France claimed sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa on behalf of Vietnam State
Since it signed a treaty with the Nguyen Dynasty on June 6 1884, France represented Vietnam’s interests in foreign relations and protecting Vietnam’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under that treaty, France practiced Vietnam’s sovereign rights over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.
Hereafter are some evidences:
French gunboats often patrolled the East Sea, including the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelago.
In 1899, Indochina Governor Paul Doumer proposed the French government build a lighthouse on Hoang Sa Island (Pattle), an island in the Hoang Sa Archipelago, to guide ships but this plan failed due to shortage of funding.
Since 1920, Indochina customs vessels strengthened patrol in Hoang Sa to prevent smuggling.
In 1925, the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute sent De Lanessan ship to make survey at Hoang Sa Archipelago. Many French scientists conducted research at the archipelago.
On March 3 1925, Prime Minister of the Nguyen Dynasty, Than Trong Hue, confirmed that Hoang Sa is Vietnam’s territory.
In 1927, French ship De Lanessan conducted a scientific survey at Truong Sa Archipelago.
In 1929 a French mission (Perrier – De Rouville) suggested to build four lighthouses at four corners of the Hoang Sa Archipelago (on Tri Ton, Da Bac, Linh Con and Bom Bai islands).
In 1930, a French ship named La Malicieuse visited Hoang Sa Archipelago.
In March 1931, French ship Inconstant visited the archipelago
In June 1931, French ship De Lanessan returned to Hoang Sa.
In May 1932, gunboat Alerte patrolled Hoang Sa archipelago.
From April 13 1930 to April 12 1933, the French Government sent its naval troops to garrison on major islands in the Truong Sa archipelago.
On December 21 1933, Nam Ky (southern Vietnam) governor M. J. Krautheimer signed a Decree to merge the islands of Truong Sa, An Bang, Itu Aba, Song Tu, Loai Ta and Thi Tu into the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
In 1937, the French Government sent engineer Gauthier to Hoang Sa Archipelago to make feasibility research for the construction of lighthouses and flying boat airport.
In February 1937, cruiser Lamotte Piquet led by Rear Admiral Istava visited Hoang Sa archipelago.
On March 29 1938, King Bao Dai (last Vietnamese king) signed a document to separate Hoang Sa Archipelago from Nam Nghia province and merge it into Thua-Thien province.
On June 15 1938, Indochina governor Jule Brevie signed a Decree to set up an administrative unit based in Hoang Sa archipelago of Thua-Thien province.
In 1938, the French built the stele of sovereignty, a lighthouse, meteorological observing and radiotelegraphic stations on Itu Aba Island in Truong Sa Archipelago.
On May 5 1939, Indochina Governor Jules Brevie signed a decree to amend the decree dated June 15 1938 and established two management agencies for Hoang Sa Archipelago.
During the time it represented Vietnam in foreign relations, France always confirmed Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa and protested actions that seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty at the two archipelagos, specifically:
On December 4 1931 and April 24 1932, the French Government protested the Chinese government, specifically the Guangdong province authorities’ plan to auction off bird fence exploitation on Hoang Sa archipelago.
On July 24 1933, France informed Japan to send troops to major islands of Truong Sa archipelago.
On April 4 1949, France protested against Japan’s imposition of its jurisdiction on some islands in the Truong Sa Archipelago.
Practicing of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa after World War II
Returning to Indochina after World War II, in early 1947, France asked soldiers of the Republic of China to withdraw its troops from some islands in the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos which they illegally occupied in late 1946. French sent troops to these islands to replace Chinese troops and to rebuild meteorological and radiotelegraphic stations there.
On September 7 1951, the head of Bao Dai Government’s mission, Tran Van Huu, stated at San Francisco conference on signing a peace treaty with Japan that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa had been parts of Vietnam’s territory for a very long time. The statement was not protested by any of 51 countries participating in the conference.
In 1953, French ship Ingénieur en chef Girod conducted a survey at Hoang Sa.
The Saigon regime also maintained Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. Below is some evidence:
In 1956, the navy of the Saigon government took over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos after France withdrew its troops.
In 1956, the Saigon government organized a survey on four islands – Hoang Sa (Pattle), Quang Anh (Money), Huu Nhat (Robert) and Duy Mong (Drumond).
On October 22 1956, the Saigon Government placed Truong Sa Archipelago under Phuoc Tuy province.
On July 13 1956, the Saigon administration placed Hoang Sa Archipelago under Hoa Vang district. They also established a commune named Dinh Hai on the archipelago, managed by an official.
From 1961 to 1963, the Saigon administration built sovereignty steles on major islands in Truong Sa archipelago like Truong Sa, An Bang, Song Tu Tay, etc.
On October 21 1969, the Saigon administration merged Dinh Hai commune into Hoa Long commune in Hoa Vang district, Quang Nam province.
In July 1973, the Institute for Agricultural Research of the Saigon administration carried out a survey at Nam Ai (Nam Yet) Island in Truong Sa Archipelago.
In August 1973, the Saigon administration merged Truong Sa, An Bang, Itu Aba, Song Tu Dong, Song Tu Tay, Loai Ta, Thi Tu, Nam Ai, Sinh Ton and neighboring islands into Phuoc Hai commune, Dat Do District, Phuoc Tuy province.
The Saigon administration always defended its sovereignty over the two archipelagos whenever other countries intended to encroach any island in the two archipelagos.
On June 16 1956, the Foreign Ministry of the Saigon administration again confirmed its sovereignty over Truong Sa Archipelago. The same year, it strongly opposed People’s Republic of China’s occupation of some islands in Hoang Sa Archipelago.
On February 22 1959, the Saigon administration detained 82 Chinese “fishermen” who illegally landed on Huu Nhat, Duy Mong and Quang Hoa islands in Hoang Sa archipelago.
On April 20 1971, the Saigon administration once again confirmed that Truong Sa is Vietnam’s territory.
On July 13 1971, the Saigon administration again confirmed its sovereignty over Truong Sa archipelago.
On January 19 1974, the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China occupied some islands in the southwestern of Hoang Sa archipelago. The same day the Saigon administration condemned the violations of the People’s Republic of China on Vietnam’s territorial integrity.
On January 26 1974, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam released its three-point statement on solving territorial conflicts and on February 14 it confirmed Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos as Vietnam’s territory.
On May 5-6, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam announced the liberation of islands in Truong Sa Archipelago, which were occupied by the Saigon regime. On June 28 1974, it stated at the first session of the 3rd conference on the Law of the Sea in Caracas that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagos belong to Vietnam.
In September 1975, the mission of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam at the meteorological conference in Colombo stated that Hoang Sa Archipelago belongs to Vietnam and asked the International Meteorological Organization to name Vietnam’s Hoang Sa meteorological station in the list of its meteorological station. This station had been registered in this organization’s list, coded 48.860.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has issued many legal documents on the sea and the archipelagos of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, including: The Statement of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam about its territorial waters, contiguous zones, exclusive economic zones and continental shelf of Vietnam in 1977, the Statement of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam about the baseline that is used to calculate the breadth of Vietnam’s territorial water in 1982, the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam 1992, the Resolution of the 9th National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1994 on ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and the Law on National Border 2003.
In terms of administrative management, the Vietnamese government established the Truong Sa Island District in Dong Nai province and Hoang Sa Island District in Quang Nam – Da Nang Province in 1982. At present, Hoang Sa District belongs to Da Nang city and Truong Sa district to Khanh Hoa province.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has many times confirmed its sovereignty of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa in its diplomatic notes sent to related sides or in statements of the Foreign Ministry or at international conferences, including meetings of the International Meteorological Organization (June 1980) and the International Geological Congress (July 1980), etc.
The Vietnamese State published White Book in 1979, 1981 and 1988 about its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagos.
On March 14 1988, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry released a statement condemning China for causing armed conflicts and occupying reefs in Truong Sa Archipelago.
In April 2007, Vietnam set up Truong Sa town, Song Tu Tay commune and Sinh Ton commune in Truong Sa district.
Based on historical documents, international law and international practices, it is clear that the Vietnamese State really owned Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in the past.
Since the 17th century, Vietnam has actually, continuously and peacefully exercised its sovereignty over the two archipelagos.
Vietnam has always defended its rights and sovereignty over the two archipelagos against any plan or action that violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.