New historical documents confirm China has no sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys

(VOVWORLD) - The recent 13th South China Sea International Conference in Hanoi made public historical documents confirming that China has no sovereignty in the South China Sea, which is called the East Sea by Vietnam. The conference was an important venue for exchanging information, analyzing the roots of disputes in the East Sea, promoting dialogue, managing disagreements, and affirming international law toward the goal of peace and stability in the East Sea.
New historical documents confirm China has no sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys - ảnh 1Participants at the 13th South China Sea International Conference (VOV)

International experts had a frank discussion of historical events and evidence relating to the East Sea and the significance of historical documents indicating Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratlys) and Hoang Sa (Paracels) archipelagos.

Carl Zha, an independent Chinese researcher, recently shared his view on so-called “historical evidence” that China has occupied and claimed sovereignty over islands in the East Sea for several centuries.

His view was immediately rejected by other scholars. New historical evidence introduced at the Conference showed that, until 1899, the Chinese feudal regime acknowledged that the Paracels and Spratlys were not under its management. A record of famous Chinese Zen master Xu Shillun confirmed that the Paracels and Spratlys were under the jurisdiction of the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam.

Bill Hayton, a senior expert with the Asia-Pacific Program of Chatham House said two historical events proved that China has no sovereignty in most of the East Sea as it has claimed. The first event was a Japanese shipwreck in the area of Bombay reef in the An Vinh island group of the Paracel archipelago in September, 1884. The Chinese administration refused to compensate, saying that the shipwreck was not within their waters. The second case was the German ship Bellona wrecking off the Paracels. China said the incident had nothing to do with them because it happened in the deep sea, far from China.

Bill Hayton said: “We can confidently state that no Chinese state ever made a claim of sovereignty or any form on other administration over the Paracels before 1909. Although there was fishing and trading place here, there has never been any official assertion.”

In many cases, the Chinese government completely denied its responsibility as well as anything related to the Paracel archipelago, said Heyton.

Hayton said that based on documents he has, the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam had been present in the Spratly archipelago since the first half of the 19th century. Then the British government was present there in 1870 and the French government in 1933. China never claimed sovereignty over the Spratlys until 1948. This is completely ad odds with China's claims.

New historical documents confirm China has no sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys - ảnh 2Participants discuss on the sideline of the conference on Nov 18-19, 2021 in Hanoi. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

Doctor Vu Hai Dang, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Law of the National University of Singapore, said that in the 1950s the French colonial government and then the Republic of Vietnam government controlled the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. Vietnam was the first country to claim sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys and is the only country that has continuously managed them under international law.

“Vietnam has affirmed its sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys since the 15th century. Every year the Nguyen Lords exploited resources and built constructions on these islands. Other Vietnamese emperors protected ships travelling in the area, allowed them to take shelter from storms, and taxed them. These activities have been recorded in official documents of Vietnam,"  Dang said.

"When the French invaded Vietnam, they built constructions on these islands. When the French were defeated, Vietnam resumed its sovereignty in the Paracels and Spratlys. When China tried to invade the two archipelagos, Vietnam fought against it. When China illegally occupied the two archipelagos, Vietnam brought the issue to the United Nations General Assembly. When Vietnam was reunified, its government continued to build constructions, protect peace, and affirm its sovereignty over the archipelagos. Vietnam has built schools, houses, and pagodas there. Many Vietnamese children were born there,” he said.   

At a discussion titled “Be fair to the facts: History and the South China Sea”, Professor Monique Chemillier-Gendreau of Diderot Paris University, said the 1951 San Francisco Convention and the 1952 Treaty of Peace between China and Japan didn’t recognize China’s sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys. Both of them acknowledged Vietnam’s sovereignty claims over the two archipelagos.

The newly-made-public historical documents are significant value in helping to establish the historical truth about the East Sea.

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