Paracel Islands belongs to Vietnam forever

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The Paracel Islands is located in the South China Sea, spreading from 15o45' to 17o15' North latitude and 111o00' to 113o00' East longitude, about 222 km long from West to East and 160 km long from North to South. It is about 350km from East of Da Nang province of Vietnam. The Paracel Islands has more than 30 islands, coral reefs and reefs distributed over a maritime area of around 30,000 square kilometers with a total land area of approximately 10km2. It is divided into two island groups: The Eastern island group includes 12 islands, of which Woody Island (Phu Lam) and Lincoln Island (Linh Con) are the largest ones (each island is about 1.5 square kilometers). The western island cluster consists of many islands arranged in shape of an arc, including Paracel Island (Hoang Sa), Robert Island (Huu Nhat), Money Island (Quang Anh), Ducan Island (Quang Hoa), Drummond Island (Duy Mong), Vuladdore Reef (Chim Yen), Triton Island (Tri Ton)... According to the available ancient records of Vietnam, such as "Toan tap Thien Nam tư chi lo do thu" (Route Maps from the Capital to the Four Directions) by Do Ba or Cong Dao, "Phu Bien Tap Luc" (Miscellaneous Records on the Pacification at the Frontier) by Le Quy Don..., since at least 17th century, Vietnamese feudal states were the first nation to discover, occupy and continually and peacefully own the Paracel Islands. Since 1884, on behalf of its protectorate, the French colonialist continued to exercise sovereignty, manage and conduct exploitation in Paracel Islands. Until the end of the 19th century, no countries, including China, protested by any mean to Vietnam's sovereignty over Paracel Islands.



Nguồn ảnh: Internet

The dispute and China’s sovereignty claim over Paracel Islands have just started in the early 20th century. In 1909, Chinese feudal authorities in Liangguang region sent two small boats to some islands of the archipelago fore day. Then, in 1946, they sent troops to occupy a part of the archipelago and later withdrew. In 1949, the People's Republic of China was established, but only until August 15, 1951, China officially asserted sovereignty over the two archipelagos of Paracel and Spratly in the statement of Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai and published a map of "Zhonghua renmin gongheguo fen sheng ditu" (People's Republic of China Provinces Map) claiming sovereignty over all three archipelagos in the South China Sea, which they called the Nanhai, including Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and Macclesfield reefs which they named Xisha and Nansha and Zhongsha respectively. Based on that, in early 1956, taking advantage of the French colonists' withdrawal from Vietnam and the Republic of Vietnam had not yet replaced them at the Paracel Islands, China illegally seized the two islands of Woody and Lincoln in the West of the archipelago. Later, they tried to create evidences and conducted diplomatic and propaganda activities to assert Chinese sovereignty over the archipelago. Also during this time, on the eve of February 20 and early morning of February 21, 1956, Chinese soldiers disguised as fishermen took provoking actions at the Western island group of the Paracel Islands but failed and were, arrested and escorted to Da Nang by the Republic of Vietnam’s military units stationing on the islands. They were sent back to China later. In early 1974, as Vietnamese were focusing on the cause of liberation of the South and unification of the country, and the Republic of Vietnam’s army was weaker when the United States decided not to re-intervene in the Indochina war, China planned an attack on the West cluster of Paracel Islands. On January 11, 1974, under the excuse that the Saigon government merged Spratly Islands into the territory of Dat Do district of Phuoc Tuy province (Khanh Hoa province of Vietnam now), China issued an objection statement, then sent dozens of warships to the Paracel Islands to provoke the naval forces of the Republic of Vietnam patrolling the islands. At the same time, China’s troops secretly landed on islands where no garrison force stationed. On January 15, 1974, China landed troops on the islands of Robert, Drummond and Money... in the Western island group of the archipelago controlled by the Republic of Vietnam. On January 19, 1974, a fire between the Chinese force and the naval force of the Republic of Vietnam on the island occurred. With its superiority of forces and equipment supported by aircrafts and warships, on January 20, 1974, Chinese troops invaded Paracel, Robert and Money islands, then later occupied the remaining islands of the Paracel archipelago. Although the Republic of Vietnam tried to counter-attack, they were too weak compared to the Chinese and therefore, the Paracel Islands eventually fell into Chinese hands.

Right after the incident occurred, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam issued a statement protesting China's aggression and defining Vietnam's three-point stance that sovereignty and territorial integrity were sacred for each nation, and that border and territorial disputes between neighboring countries left over by history were not unusual. Therefore, the countries concerned should make efforts to consider this issue in a spirit of equality, mutual respect, friendship, good neighbourliness and to settle them by peaceful means.

Since 1974, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and enforced the legal measures to exercise its sovereignty. Not only has Vietnam contacted China to request the return of the islands many times, but it also applies peaceful measures consistent to international law to demand back its sovereignty. On May 12, 1977 and on November 12, 1982, the Vietnamese Government issued Declarations on the baseline, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. In April 2007, Vietnam adjusted the district administrative organization of Paracel and Spratly Islands and implemented the Resolution on Vietnam’s Maritime Strategy until 2020 adopted on January 24, 2007. On July 2, 2012 the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam announced the Law of the Sea of Vietnam adopted by the National Assembly of Vietnam on June 21, 2012. The passage of the Law of the Sea of Vietnam is a normal legal activity in Vietnam's development plan. The Law of the Sea of Vietnam is fully consistent with international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as the legal system of Vietnam. Vietnam is the last of the countries having disputes in the South China Sea that passed its own Law of the Sea. That is to improve its legal framework for the use, management and protection of Vietnam's sea, islands and the development of its maritime economy. In the above mentioned resolutions, declarations and laws, the Paracels is the inseparable archipelago of the Vietnamese Fatherland.

Over 45 years have passed, the fact that China used force to seize Vietnam's Paracel Islands has not been forgotten. Until today, it has remained the main cause of disputes in the South China Sea, which has never been eased and even being used as "a card" to bargain for "benefits" in an increasingly geo-strategic competitive environment in the Asia – Pacific by big powers.

Looking back at all what happened, the act of China occupying the Paracel Islands, snatching the islands from the Vietnamese government is a complete violation of international law, seriously affecting regional peace and stability and the relations between Vietnam and China. This illegal occupation will never be recognized by the international community, the peoples of Southeast Asia and the people of Vietnam. The Paracel Islands ever belongs to Vietnam. In the minds of Vietnamese, China could only temporarily occupy the archipelago and it will return to its true owner one day.