White Paper on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands

White Paper on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands

Republic of Vietnam

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Saigon, 1975


The Vietnamese archipelagoes of Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa
(Spratly) are both situated in the South China Sea off the Republic of
Vietnam’s shore. Their very modest size by no means lesser the
importance given them by the Vietnamese: to Vietnamese hearts, these
remote insular territories are as dear as could be any other part of
the fatherland. The Hoang Sa Islands to the North were occupied by
force of arms by the People’s Republic of China on January 20, 1974,
following a brazen act of invasion which left the world extremely
indignant. As for the Truong Sa Islands 500 km to the South, two other
foreign powers are illegally stationing troops on four of the main
islands in the archipelago.

The Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people,
determined to defend their sovereignty and the territorial integrity
of the country, solemnly denounce the occupation of these Vietnamese
territories by foreign troops. Regarding the Hoang Sa (Paracel)
Islands, not only was the gross violation of Vietnamese sovereignty by
the People’s Republic of China a defiance of the law of nations and
the Charter of the United Nations: in-as-much as this involved the use
of force by a world power against a small country in Asia, it also
constitutes a threat to peace and stability in South East Asia In the
case of the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, although foreign occupation
was not preceded by bloodshed, it nevertheless represents a grave
violation of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Vietnam. The
rights of the Vietnamese people over those islands have been as firmly
established there as on the Hoang Sa archipelago.

The Republic of Vietnam fulfils all the conditions required by
international law to assert its claim to possession of these islands.
Throughout the course of history, the Vietnamese had already
accomplished the gradual consolidation of their rights on the Hoang Sa
Islands. By the early 19th century, a systematic policy of effective
occupation was implemented by Vietnamese emperors The Truong Sa
Islands, known to and exploited by Vietnamese fishermen and laborers
for many centuries, were formally incorporated into Vietnamese
territory by France on behalf of Vietnam. On both archipelagoes,
Vietnamese civil servants assured a peaceful and effective exercise of
Vietnamese jurisdiction. The continuous display of state authority was
coupled with the constant Vietnamese will to remain the owner of a
legitimate title over those islands. Thus military defense of the
archipelagoes and diplomatic activities were put forth in the face of
false claims from other countries in the area. Vietnamese rights being
indisputable, the People’s Republic of China chose to resort to
military force in order to assert her sudden claims to the Hoang Sa
(Paracel) Islands. Two other foreign powers took advantage of the war
situation in Vietnam to militarily occupy some of the Truong Sa
(Spratly) Islands over which they have no legal rights. Since both the
Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes are situated below the 17th
parallel, this is primarily a matter of concern for the Republic of

This White Paper is designed to demonstrate the validity of the claims
made by the Republic of Vietnam. It is also an appeal for justice to
the conscience of all law-abiding and peace-loving nations in the

Proclamation by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (1974)

The noblest and most imperative task of a Government is to defend the
sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Nation. The
Government of the Republic of Vietnam is determined to carry out this
task, regardless of difficulties it may encounter and regardless of
unfounded objections wherever they may come from.

In the face of the illegal military occupation by Communist China of
the Paracels Archipelago which is an integral part of the Republic of
Vietnam, the Government of the Republic of Vietnam deems it necessary
to solemnly declare before world opinion, to friends and foes alike,
that :

The Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes are an
indivisible part of the territory of the Republic of Vietnam. The
Government and People of the Republic of Vietnam shall not yield to
force and renounce all or part of their sovereignty over those

As long as one single island of that part of the territory of the
Republic of Vietnam is forcibly occupied by another country, the
Government and People of the Republic will continue their struggle to
recover their legitimate rights.

The illegal occupant will have to bear all responsibility for any
tension arising therefrom.

On this occasion, the Government of the Republic of Vietnam also
solemnly reaffirms the sovereignty of the Republic of Vietnam over the
islands off the shores of Central and South Vietnam, which have been
consistently accepted as a part of the territory of the Republic of
Vietnam on the basis of undeniable geographic, historical and legal
evidence and on account of realities.

The Government of the Republic of Vietnam is determined to defend the
sovereignty of the Nation over those islands by all and every means.

In keeping with its traditionally peaceful policy, the Government of
the Republic of Vietnam is disposed to solve, through negotiations,
international disputes which may arise over those islands, but this
does not mean that it shall renounce its sovereignty over any part of
its national territory.

(Proclamation by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam dated
February 14, 1974)

The Early Historical Rights of Vietnam

The Vietnamese have had knowledge of the Hoang Sa Islands long before
the arrival to the South China Sea of Westerners who publicized
internationally the name of “Paracels” for this part of their
territory. It has been scientifically determined that the Vietnamese
presence on this archipelago started in the 15th century. The
systematic exploitation of the islands’ resources started early and
gradually developed Vietnamese interest in these territories, leading
in the 18th century to official state decision such as the formation
of the Hoang Sa Company to ensure a rational exploitation of those
islands. As evidenced by reliable Vietnamese and foreign sources,
Vietnam progressively asserted her rights and the Hoang Sa archipelago
was formally taken possession of the Vietnamese authorities in the
year 1816.

Geographic position.

The Hoang Sa Archipelago is a string of islets off the Vietnamese
coast between 111 and 113 degrees longitude East of Greenwich, and
between 15045′ and 17015′ North latitude. The nearest island in the
archipelago is roughly at equal distance from the coast of Vietnam and
the southern shore of Hainan Island in China. Using Pattle Island (dao
Hoang Sa), the largest of the group, as a point of reference, the
distances are as follows:

Pattle to the Vietnamese harbor of Danang: 200 nautical miles.
Pattle to the closest shore on Hainan: 150 nautical miles.
Pattle to the closest shore in the Philippines: 450 nautical miles.
Pattle to the closest shore in Taiwan: 620 nautical miles.

The Hoang Sa Islands are divided into two groups: to the East lies the
Tuyen Duc (or Amphitrite) Group and to the West lies the Nguyet Thiem
(or Crescent) Group. The main islands are:

Tuyen Duc Group:

Dao Bac-North Island
Dao Trung – Middle Island
Dao Nam – South Island

Phu Lam-Wooded Island (French: Ile Boisee)
Hon Da – Rocky Island
Dao Linh Con -Lincoln Island
Dao Cu Moc-Tree Island
Con Nam – South Bank

Nguyet Thiem Group:

Dao Hoang Sa – Pattle Island
Dao Cam Tuyen – Robert Island
Dao Vinh Lac- Money Island
Dao Quang Hoa – Duncan Island
Dao Duy Mong – Drummond Island
Dao Bach Qui – Passu Keah Island
Dao Tri Ton – Triton Island.

Apart from Pattle, the only other large island is Phu Lam or Wooded
Island in the Amphitrite Group. The total surface area of the isles in
both Groups barely exceeds 10 square kilometers or about 5 square
miles. Most Islets were originally coral reefs and have the appearance
of bare sand-banks, except for Wooded Island and Pattle Island, which
is known for its coconut trees. The islands are surrounded by rings of
reefs which make the approach by vessels very dangerous. An abundance
of tortoises, sea slugs and other marine creatures are found there.
Rich beds of phosphate have been produced by the interaction of the
sea birds’ guano with tropical rains and the coral limestone. The
climate on the archipelago is marked by constant humidity and little
variation in mean temperatures. In economic terms, the Hoang Sa
Islands have been frequented long ago by Vietnamese fishermen and in
recent times have attracted many companies exploiting phosphate .

First Vietnamese document on the Hoang Sa Islands.

Evidence showing Vietnamese sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Islands
extends back over three hundred years. The oldest Vietnamese document
on this part of the national heritage is the work done sometime
between 1630 and 1653 by a scholar named Do Ba and also known under
the penname of Dao Phu. It is a series of maps of Viet Nam which
constitutes the third part of the “Hong Duc Atlas” (1): the Atlas
started under the reign of Emperor Le Thanh Tong alias Hong Duc
(1460-1497). Notes accompanying the maps clearly indicate that as far
back as the early 17th century, Vietnamese authorities had been
sending, on a regular basis, ships and men to these islands, which at
that time were named ” Cat Vang ” (both ” Cat Vang” and “Hoang Sa”
mean ” yellow sand “). These are the islands now known internationally
by the name ” Paracels “.

The following is the translation of Do Ba’s remarks:

“At the village of Kim Ho, on both banks of the river, stand two
mountains each containing a gold deposit exploited under government
control. On the high sea, a 400-ly long and 200-ly large archipelago
(2) called ” Bai Cat Vang ” (Yellow sand banks) emerges from the deep
sea facing the coastline between the harbor of Dai Chiem and the
harbor of Sa Vinh (3). During the South-West monsoon season,
commercial ships from various countries sailing near the coasts often
wreck on the insular territories. The same thing happens during the
North-East monsoon season to those ships sailing on the high sea. All
the people on board wrecked ships in this area would starve. Various
kinds of wrecked cargoes are amassed on these islands. Each year
during the last month of winter, the Nguyen rulers send to the islands
an 18-junk flotilla in order to salvage them. They obtain big
quantities of gold, silver, coins, rifles and ammunitions. From the
harbor of Dai Chiem the archipelago is reached after a journey of
one-and-a-half day, while one day suffices if one embarks from Sa Ky.
(4) ”

Although geographical descriptions of former times are not as precise
as they are now, it is clear from the above that the ” yellow sand” or
Hoang Sa Islands have been part of the economic heritage of the Empire
of Vietnam at least before 1653, the latest year when Do Ba could have
completed his map drawing. Moreover, an eminent Vietnamese historian
and scholar, Vo Long Te, has been able to determine that. taking into
account other factors in the Do Ba’s text (e.g. historical references
and linguistic style), the salvage expeditions described therein
actually started in the 15th century (5).

First evidence from foreign sources.

Vietnamese scholars are not the only people to record that Vietnam,
formerly known as the ’empire of Annam’, had early displayed state
authority over the Hoang Sa Islands. Actually, foreign sources have
been even more accurate in regard to the dates concerning Vietnamese
sovereignty. As presented above, on the basis of the Do Ba document,
economic exploitation of the Hoang Sa Islands by Vietnamese started,
at least, before 1653. However as early as 1634, the Journal of
Batavia. Published by the Dutch East Indies Company, recorded
incidents showing that Vietnamese jurisdiction was then already
recognized by citizens of other countries.

According to the Journal of Batavia published in 1634-1636, (6) on
July 20, 1634, three Dutch ships named Veenhuizen, Schagen (7) and
Grootebroek left Touron (present-day Da Nang) on their way to Formosa,
after having come from Batavia (present-day Djakarta). On the 21st,
the three ships were caught in a tempest and lost contact with one
another. The Veenhuizen arrived in Formosa on August 2 and the
Schagen. on August 10. But the Grootebroek capsized near the Paracel
Islands, north of the 17th Parallel. Of the cargo estimated at 153,690
florins, only 82,995 florin-worth of goods severe recovered by the
surviving crew; the rest went down to the bottom of the sea. Of the
ship’s company nine men were also missing.

After he had taken every disposition to have the remains of the cargo
safely stored on the islands, under the guard of 50 sailors, the
captain of the Grootebroek took to sea with another 12 sailors and
headed toward the Vietnamese coast to seek help in the realm of the
Nguyen Lords. However, when the group reached the mainland, they were
taken prisoners by fishermen and their money was confiscated. This led
to a dispute with the Vietnamese authorities. The dispute resulted in
further visits by Dutch ships to the Vietnamese Court (and ultimately,
to the granting of free trade rights to Dutchmen and the establishment
of the first Dutch factory in Vietnam, headed by Abraham Duijcker).
For our purposes here, however, the significant fact was that, when
the Grootebroek sank, the sailors chose to go to Vietnam instead of
China, although China was nearer. This is undoubtedly because they
assumed the country exercising jurisdiction over the site of the
wreckage would naturally provide rescue and be more responsive to
their claims.

Testimony by Vietnamese historian Le Qui Don.

Other references to the early historical rights of Vietnam over the
Hoang Sa Islands (called ” Pracels” in the Journal of Batavia account)
are made by the Encyclopedist Le Qui Don (1726-1784) in his history
work Phu Bien Tap Luc (Miscellaneous Records on the Pacification of
the Frontiers). Le Qui Don was a mandarin sent to the South by the
Court in order to serve as administrator in the realm recently taken
over by the Court from the Nguyen Lords (hence the appellation of
“Frontier Provinces” for these lands in the title of the book).

In his work, Le Qui Don recorded many of the things he saw or heard
while on duty in the southern realm. As a consequence, there were
several references to the islands belonging to the Nguyen realm. The
most extensive and precise reference to the Paracel Islands occurs on
pages where it is said:

” The village of An Vinh, Binh Son District, Quang Ngai Prefecture, is
close by thc sea. To the northeast (of the village) there are many
islands and miscellaneous rockheads jutting out of the sea, totaling
130 altogether. From the rockheads out to the islands, it sometimes
takes a day (by sea) or at least a few watches. On top of the rocks
there sometimes are freshwater springs. Linking the islands is a vast
strip of yellow sand of over 30 ly in length, a flat and vast expanse
where the water is clear and can be seen through to the bottom.”

On a following page, the fauna and flora of the Paracels are described
in detail, thus allowing one to compare them with later scientific
descriptions made in the twentieth century: sea-swallows and their
valuable nests (among the thousands of varieties of birds found on the
islands), giant conches called “elephant-ear conches “,
mother-of-pearls, giant tortoises and smaller varieties of turtles,
sea urchins, and so forth.

Regarding the usefulness of these islands and their exploitation, Le
Qui Don has this to say: “When they encounter strong winds, large
sea-going ships usually take shelter in these islands ,”.

“In the past, the Nguyen had created a Hoang Sa Company of 70 men,
made up of people from An Vinh village. Every year they take turns in
going out to the sea, setting out during the first month of the lunar
calendar in order to receive instructions regarding their mission.
Each man in the company is given six months worth of dry food. They
row in five fishing boats and it takes them three days before they
reach the islands. They are free to collect anything they want, to
catch the birds as they see fit and to fish for food. They (sometimes)
find the wreckage of ships which yield such things as bronze swords
and copper horses, silver decorations and money, silver rings and
other copper products, tin ingots and lead, guns and ivory, golden
bee-hive tallow, felt blankets, pottery and so forth. They also
collect turtle shells, sea urchins and striped conches in huge

“This Hoang Sa Company does not come home until the eighth month of
the year. They go to Phu Xuan (present-day Hue) to turn in the goods
they have collected in order to have them weighed and verified, then
get an assessment before they can proceed to sell their striped
conches, sea turtles and urchins. Only then is the Company issued a
certificate with which they can go home. These annual collections
sometimes can be very fruitful and at other times more disappointing,
it depends on the year. It sometimes happens that the company can go
out and return empty-handed.

” I (Le Qui Don) have had the opportunity to check the records of the
former Count of Thuyen Duc and found the following results:

” In the year of Nham Ngo (1702), the Hoang Sa Company collected 30
silver ingots.

” In the year of Giap Than (1704), 5,l00 catties of tin were brought

” In the year of At Dau (1704), 126 ingots of silver were collected.

” From the year of Ky Suu (1709) to the year of Quy Ti (1713) i.e.
during five consecutive years, the company managed to collect only a
few catties of tortoise shell and sea urchins. At one time, all they
collected included a few bars of tin a few stone bowls and two bronze
cannons “.

It is clear from the above that in the eighteenth century at least,
the Nguyen Lords of southern Vietnam were very much concerned with the
economic possibilities of the Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands and in fact
actually organized the annual exploitation of this archipelago. The
fact that no counterclaims were made by any other nation is patent
proof that the Nguyens’ sovereign rights over the islands were not
challenged by any country.

Elsewhere in the book, Le Qui Don also records an incident dating from
1753 which throws some light over the question of Chinese-Vietnamese
relationships regarding the Paracel Islands. ” The shores of the Hoang
Sa Islands are not far from Lien-chou Prefecture in Hainan Province,
China. (For that reason) our ships sometimes meet with fishing boats
from our Northern neighbor (China) on the high sea. Ship-mates from
both countries inquire about one another in the midst of the ocean…
On one occasion, there was a report coming from the hall officer in
charge of sea traffic investigations in Wen-ch’ang District,
Ch’iung-chou Prefecture (Hainan Island, China), which says: ” In the
eighteenth year of Ch’ien-lung (1753), ten soldiers from An Binh
Village belonging to the Cat Liem Company, District of Chuong Nghia,
Quang Ngai Prefecture, Annam, set out during, the seventh month to go
to the Van Ly Truong Sa (7) to collect sea products. Eight of the ten
men went ashore for the collection of products, and two remained on
the ship to watch it. A typhoon soon developed w which caused the
anchor cord to split, and the two who remained in the ship were washed
into the port of Ch’ing-lan. After investigation the Chinese officer
found the story to be correct and consequently had the two Vietnamese
escorted home to their native village . Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu
subsequently had the Governor of Thuan Hoa (present-day Thua Thien)
Province, the Count of Thuc Luong, write a courtesy note to the hall
officer of Wen-ch’ang to acknowledge his help. ”

This story illustrates a number of points, besides the general
civility of intercourse already evinced at the time between China and
Vietnam. It is apparent from the story that the Chinese officer from
Wen-ch’ang was not bothered by the fact that the Vietnamese were
intruding into Chinese territorial waters when they went to the Van Ly
Truong Sa. The only concern of the officer was to find out whether the
statements made by the two Vietnamese sailors had any basis in fact.
In other words, the Chinese officer was only worried about the
possibility of the Vietnamese being spies sent into Hainan under the
pretense of a storm encountered at sea. When this was disproved, the
Chinese immediately had the Vietnamese released and dealt with them
very kindly by having them escorted home. The whole incident clearly
proves that Vietnamese exploitation of the economic resources on the
Paracels in the eighteenth century was a very open activity, carried
out peacefully and acknowledged by the Chinese to be an exercise of
legitimate rights over the islands.

A famous geography book written by Phan Huy Chu and printed in l834 by
the name of Hoang Viet Dia Du Chi contains a text on the Hoang Sa
Islands which does not present much that is new in comparison to the
information in Le Qui Don’s work. Only two minor differences are

– The Hoang Sa Company, according to this geographical work, was still
composed of 70 men from An Vinh Village. However, they receive dry
food and get instruction to go out to sea in the third month of the
lunar calendar (rather than in the first, as recorded by Le Qui Don.
They begin their return journey in the sixth month.

– In the eight month, they arrive home through the port of Eo (Thuan

From the above, it can be seen that exploitation of the Paracel
Islands was becoming an operation of diminishing return in the early
nineteenth century, thus necessitating an excursion of two months
only, instead of the six-month excursion needed in the eighteenth
century. However Vietnamese interests in the islands were not merely
economic, as can be seen in the following testimonies.

Confirmation by other foreign sources.

Various foreign authors confirmed that the Hoang Sa Islands were fully
part of the Vietnamese territory as early as the 18th century. For
instance, testimony in 1701 by a missionary travelling on the
Amphitrite (reportedly the first French ship to enter South-China Sea
late in the 17th century) describing frightening dangers experienced
by ships in the vicinity of the Paracels, mentioned specifically that
this archipelago be-longed to the Empire of Annam i.e., a former name
for Vietnam (8).

Another document dated April 10, 1768 and called “Note sur l’Asie
demandee par M. de la Borde a M. d’Estaing” (now held in French
archives) (9) provides evidence of intense patrol operations between
the Paracels and the coast of Vietnam by Vietnamese naval units. When
French Admiral d’Estaing was planning a raid against the Vietnamese
city of Hue in order to set a French establishment in Indochina, he
reported that Vietnamese vessels frequently cruised between the
Paracels and the coast and thus, “would have reported about his
approach “. This fact apparently caused him to cancel the raid planned
against Vietnam. This demonstrates that as long as two centuries ago,
the Hoang Sa Islands were already included in the Vietnamese system of
defense and that the most evident acts in the exercise of state
jurisdiction were regularly performed by Vietnamese authorities.

In the same document, Admiral d’Estaing also gave various detailed
descriptions of the defense installations on the shore. He wrote that
“the Hue citadel contained 1,200 cannons, of which 800 were made of
bronze, many bearing the arms of Portugal and the date 1661. There
were also some smaller pieces (bearing the arms of Cambodia and the
monogram of the British Company of India) that had been salvaged from
driftwood of wrecked vessels in the Paracels.”

In another proposal made in 1758-59 for a French attempt against
Vietnam and presented in his Memoire pour une entreprise sur la
Cochinchine proposee a M. de Magon par M. d’Estaing (10), admiral
d’Estaing made another mention of the Hoang Sa Islands in his
description of the defense of Lord Vo Vuong’s palace. Built on the
bank of a river, he reported “the palace was surrounded by an 8 to
9-foot high wall without any kind of fortification. There were many
cannons that were designed for decoration, rather than for use.
Admiral d’Estaing put the number of cannons at 400, many being
Portuguese pieces “taken here from ships wrecked on the Paracels. ”

In a book published in London in 1806: “a Voyage To Cochinchina”, John
Barrow told the story of a British journey to Vietnam and indicated
that the Paracels were part of the Vietnamese economic world. The
journey described in the book was made by Count Maccartney, then
British Envoy to the Chinese Court. Leaving England on September 2,
1792, Count Maccartney stopped in Tourane (Danang) between May 24 and
June 16, 1793 in order to enter into contact with the King of
Cochinchina. The 3-week long stay gave John Barrow leisure to study
Vietnamese vessels. Therefore, he provided in his book a detailed
description of different types of boats used by the Cochinchinese in
order to reach, among other places, the Paracel Islands where they
collected trepang and swallow nests (11).

Thus Vietnamese and foreign sources agree that the Hoang Sa Islands
have for centuries been included within the scope of Vietnamese
interests and aims. These sources recognize the perfection of the
sovereign title upheld by the Vietnamese in the course of time in
relation to a growing number of states. The progressive
intensification of Vietnamese control over the Hoang Sa Islands
reached a decisive and irreversible point at the beginning of the 19th
century, when the reigning Nguyen dynasty developed a systematic
policy toward complete integration of the archipelago into the
national community.


Historical consolidation of the Vietnamese title to the Hoang Sa
Islands continued under the Nguyen dynasty’ i.e., after 1802. From
that date, it is possible to speak of a Paracel policy , by the
successive emperors of Vietnam as manifested through systematic
measures taken in the fields of administration, defense,. transports
and economic exploitation.

Formal taking of possession by Emperor Gia Long.

The first emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, Gia Long, consecrated the
will of the Vietnamese to confirm their sovereignty over the Hoang Sa
Islands by formally taking possession of the archipelago. According to
various historic sources, in the year 1816 the Vietnamese flag was
planted in a formal ceremony on the Paracels. In 1837 the Reverend,
Jean-Louis Taberd, then Bishop of Isauropolis, wrote the following in
his “Note on the Geography of Cochinchina printed in the Journal of
the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, India, (12):

“The Pracel or Paracels is a labyrinth of small islands, rocks and
sand-banks, which appears to extend up to the 11st degree of north
latitude, in the 107th parallel of longitude from Paris. Some
navigators have traversed part of these shoals with a boldness more
fortunate than prudent, but others have suffered in the attempt. The
Cochin Chinese called them Con-Vang. Although this kind of archipelago
presents nothing but rocks and great depths which promise more
inconveniences than advantages, the king GIA LONG thought he had
increased his dominions by this sorry addition. In 1816, he went with
solemnity to plant his flag and take formal possession of these rocks,
which it is not likely any body will dispute with him.”

The Reverend Jean Louis Taberd was not the only one to give testimony
in support of Vietnamese sovereignty over the Paracels. Another
foreigner, a Frenchman who spent many years in the Far East and who
was a contemporary eyewitness, wrote (13):

“Cochinchina, of which the sovereign king today carries the title of
Emperor, includes Cochinchina proper, Tonkin: a few scarcely inhabited
islands not far from the coastline and the Paracel archipelago made up
of islets, coral reefs and uninhabited rocks. It was in 1816 that the
present Emperor (Gia Long) took possession of this archipelago.”

Consolidation of sovereignty under subsequent emperors.

Numerous documents in Vietnamese archives give the most convincing
facts about the display of the Nguyen dynasty’s authority over the
Hoang Sa Islands. One of the striking facts was the order given in
1833 by Emperor Minh Mang to his minister of Public Work to plant
trees on some of these islands because “trees will grow up and will
offer a luxuriant vegetation that would allow navigators to
reconnoiter these vicinities so to avoid having their ships being
wrecked in these not very deep waters. This will be for the profit of
ten thousand generations to come” (14). Considering the fact that most
ships that sank in the area were foreign-owned, there is no doubt that
the Vietnamese executed this act to meet their international
responsibilities. Thus, by offering certain guarantees to other states
and their nationals, by being an identifiable addressee of
international claims regarding the Hoang Sa Islands, Vietnam further
asserted her title to the property of these territories (15).

One year later, in 1834, the same emperor Minh Mang sent Garrison
Commander Truong Phuc Si and 20 other men to the Hoang Sa archipelago
in order to make a map of the area (16). This mission apparently was
not carried out to the satisfaction of officials in the Ministry of
Public Works who, two years later, reported to the Emperor that
because of the size of the area, ” only one island had been drawn on a
map which is not as precise and detailed as we would wish “. The
report added that since these islands were “of great strategic
importance to our maritime borders”, it would be appropriate to send
out missions each year in order to explore the whole archipelago and
to get accustomed to the sea routes there.

The report further pointed out that all the islands, islets and mere
sand-banks must be surveyed in order to get a description of their
relief and size, and to determine coordinates and distances. The
Emperor approved the recommendations and sent a Navy team to the Hoang
Sa Islands for the purposes set in the report (1836). Ten markers were
taken along on the vessel to be planted on the islands which the team
would reconnoiter. On each marker was the inscription: “In the year
Binh Than, 17th Year of the reign of Minh Mang, Navy Commander Pham
Huu Nhat, commissioned by the Emperor to Hoang Sa to conduct map
surveyings, landed at this place and planted this marker so to
perpetuate the memory of the event” (17). The data gathered in the
survey were used in the drawing of the remarkable “Detailed map of the
Dai Nam ” (see Fig. 8) (18) achieved circa 1838. Although not locating
the two archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa at their proper place,
the ” Detailed Map ” had the merit of mentioning these archipelagoes
specifically by their names. The islands later known as Paracels and
Spratlys were then clearly and indisputably considered parts of the
Vietnamese territory.

In other action lying within the normal display of state jurisdiction.
Emperor Minh Mang ordered, in the 16th year of his reign (1835), the
building of a temple on one of the Hoang Sa Islands. The following is
recorded in Vietnamese annals ( 19) : “Among the Hoang Sa Islands
located in the territorial waters of Quang Nghia (present day Quang
Nam) Province, there exists the island of Bach Sa (white-sand island)
where the vegetation is luxuriant. In the middle of the island is a
well and in its South-West part, a temple with a sign on which is,
engraved the sentence , “Van Ly Ba Binh” – ( the waves calm down over
ten thousand leagues ). To the North of this isle is another one built
with coral with a perimeter measuring 340 truong 2 xich and an
altitude of 1 truong 3 thuoc (20). It is as high as the Island of
White-Sand and called Ban Than Thach (21). Last year (1834), it was
the intention of the Emperor to build there a temple and a stele, but
the project was postponed because of unfavorable winds and waves. This
year, the Emperor ordered Navy Commander Pham Van Nguyen to head an
Elephant Garrison Detachment and boatmen hired in the provinces of
Quang Nghia and Binh Dinh to transport materials for the purpose of
building a temple on that island. This temple is 7 truong distant from
the old one, and has a stonemark to its left and a brick screen in
front. Upon completion of the work which lasted 10 days, the team
returned home” (22). Another document indicates that the stonemark
just mentioned was 1 thuoc 5 tac high and 1 thuoc 2 tac wide (23).
Under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang, communications between the Hoang
Sa islands and the mainland were intense enough to justify the
construction of a temple dedicated to the Gods of Hoang Sa right on
the beach of Quang Ngai in 1835. That city was a main harbour from
which boats going to these islands originated (24).

Time has probably erased traces of these works performed almost 140
years ago and for which light materials were largely used. But all the
Vietnamese documents quoted are official publications kept until now
in Vietnamese archives or prestigious foreign institutions. These
reliable recordings of facts in Vietnam’s national life demonstrate
clearly that one of the major concerns of the Nguyen emperors’
territorial policy was to consolidate sovereignty over the Hoang Sa
Islands. As a result, Vietnamese jurisdiction became so obvious that
contemporary foreign witnesses never thought of it as a contested
matter. We already mentioned Bishop Jean-Louis Taberd’s and J.B.
Chaigneau’s testimonies, but other foreign publications of the 19th
Century also recognized the Vietnamese possession : a western map
drawn in 1838 showed the – Paracel or Cat Vang Islands as part of the
Annam Empire (5). A geography book written under the auspices of the
(French) Ethnography Society mentioned the Paracels or Kat Vang as one
of the very numerous islands and archipelagoes belonging to Vietnam
(26). It must be stressed that all French works quoted had been
produced at a time when the French did not yet control Vietnam and,
therefore, had no interest in defending French claims to sovereignty
over these islands.

Preservation of rights under French colonial rule.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Southern part of Vietnam,
named Cochinchina, became a French possession (1867). This was
followed by the establishment of a French protectorate over the
remaining Vietnamese territory (1883). Therefore the French
temporarily took over the responsibility to defend the territorial
integrity of the “Annam Empire”. On behalf of Vietnam, the French
continued the normal exercise of sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Islands

They did fulfil their responsibilities. Although kept busy by the task
of strengthening their authority on the Indochina mainland, the French
colonial government did not forget the far-off islands and took all
the necessary measures to ensure an orderly administration, an
adequate defense and a better knowledge of what a French author called
in 1933 “the infinitely small Paracels of our colonial domain” (27).
The Vietnamese title to sovereignty was not only preserved, it was
reinforced. On the other hand, numerous scientific studies about the
islands were produced which could only be conducted if the Paracels
were firmly under French-Vietnamese control.

The international responsibility that the Nguyen emperors had already
accepted in regard to navigation of foreign vessels was not neglected
by the French, who completed in 1899 a feasibility study for the
construction of a lighthouse on one of the Hoang Sa Islands.
Unfortunately, this project, which was supported by Indochina Governor
General Paul Doumer, could not be realized for lack of funds. However,
French patrol vessels assured the security of sea traffic and
conducted many rescue operations for wrecked foreign ships in the
Paracel. Beginning in 1920, apparently worried by the suspect presence
of various kinds of vessels in the Hoang Sa area, the Indochinese
customs authorities started making regular inspections to the islands
for the purpose of checking illegal traffic. As early as the end of
World War I, the French control was so evident that Japanese nationals
called on French Indochina’s authorities for the exploitation of
phosphate. This was the case of the Mitsui Bussan Kaisha Company,
which extracted phosphates for many years from two islands, Ile Boisee
(Phu Lam) and Ile Roberts (Cam Tuyen). The Japanese Government, on its
part, implicitly recognized French jurisdiction in 1927. In a report
to the Minister of Colonies in Paris dated March 20, 1930, the French
Governor of Indochina wrote that in 1927, the Japanese consul in
Hanoi, Mr. Kurosawa, was instructed by his government to inquire with
the French authorities about the status of some groups of islands in
the South China Sea. But the Consul declared that, according to
instructions from the Japanese Government, the Paracels were expressly
left outside of the discussions, the question of ownership of these
islands not being a matter of dispute with France (Japan was then
involved in controversies over the Truong Sa or Spratly Islands).

The French jurisdiction was sufficiently firm and peaceful to permit
such actions as the conduct of scientific surveys on the islands. An
impressive list of superior-level scientific studies in all- fields
was made available by colonial institutions or private authors.
Starting in 1925, with the first recorded scientific mission on the
vessel De Lanessan by scientists from the famed Oceanographic
Institute of Nha Trang, knowledge about this part of Vietnamese
territory increased. The trip by the De Lanessan confirmed the
existence of rich beds of phosphate, which became the object of many
detailed studies. For example:

– Maurice Clerget, Contribution a l’etude des iles Paracels; les
phosphates. Nhatrang, Vietnam 1932.

– A. Lacroix, Les ressources minerales de la France d’Outre-Mer, tome
IV (Paracels’ phosphate: p. 165), Paris 1935.

– United Nations, ECAFE, Phosphate Resources of Mekong Basin
Countries; 4. Vietnam, (1) : Paracel Islands; Bangkok 1972.

The De Lanessan survey mission also proved the existence of a
continental shelf which reaches out in platforms from the Vietnamese
coast into the sea: the Paracels rest on one of these platforms, and
thus are joined to the coast of Vietnam by a submarine plinth. In the
following years, the names of many French ships have entered the
history of both the Paracel and Spratly archipelagoes: the Alerte,
Astrobale, Ingenieur-en-Chef Girod made other survey trips to the
Hoang Sa Islands. The result was an increasing number of other
scientific publications about these islands in all fields of human
concern and activities. Some of these are:

A. Krempf, La forme des recifs coralliens et le regime des vents
alternants, Saigon 1927. J. Delacour and P. Jabouille, Oiseaux des
iles Paracels, Nha-trang, 1928. Numerous reports called Notes of the
Oceanographic Institute of Indochina in Nhatrang containing valuable
scientific data about the Paracels, for instance the “5th Note”
(1925-26) and the “22nd Note” (1934).

French scientists continued to work for Vietnam-in its early years of
independence and continued to contribute to our knowledge of these
Vietnamese islands. Among them was Mr. E. Saurin, the author of
numerous studies of great scientific value:

– Notes sur les iles Paracels (Geologic archives of Vietnam No. 3),
Saigon 1955.
– A propos des galets exotiques des iles Paracels (Geologic archives
of Vietnam No. 4), Saigon 1957.
– Faune Malacologique terrestre des iles Paracels (Journal de
Conchiliologie, Vol. XCVIII), Paris 1958.
– Gasteropodes marins des iles Paracels, Faculty of Sciences, Saigon,
Vol. I: 1960; Vol. II: 1961.

Another French scientist, H. Fontaine, produced, ‘m cooperation with a
Vietnamese colleague a remarkable study of the islands’ flora called
“Contribution de la connaissance de la flore des iles Paracels”
(Faculty of Sciences, Saigon 1957). These scientific achievements,
accomplished over a long period of time, could only have been achieved
by a country exercising sovereignty over these islands to the fullest
extent. As a matter of fact, Vietnam would not run any risk by
challenging other countries having a pretense to sovereignty over the
Hoang Sa Islands to show the list of scientific publications they had
made available in the past.

In their acts mentioned above, the French, who merely took over rights
and responsibilities temporarily transferred to them by the people
under their “protection”, simply assured a normal continuation of
jurisdiction on behalf of the Vietnamese. However, in the face of
unfounded Chinese claims over and illegal actions connected with, the
Hoang Sa Islands in 1932, the French felt that it was necessary to
take defensive measures. Since 1909, China has made sporadic claims
over the islands. On one occasion during that year, the provincial
authorities of Kuang Tung sent gun-boats to conduct a reconnaissance
mission there. On March 20, 1921 the Governor of Kuang Tung, signed a
peculiar decree annexing the Hoang Sa Islands to the Chinese Island of
Hainan. However, his action went unnoticed because it is recorded only
in the provincial records therefore, nobody could know about it in
order to make comments or to protest. Although not followed by
occupation of any sort, actions such as these were enough to cause
some preemptive actions by the French. For instance. in 1930
crew-members of La Malicieuse landed on many of the Hoang Sa Islands
to plant flags and set up “sovereignty columns “.

More serious was the Chinese intention to invite bids for the
exploitation of the islands’ phosphate. When the Chinese intent became
known, the French Government protested to the Chinese Embassy in Paris
by a note dated December 4, 1931. A few months later, when the Chinese
effectively called for bids, the Paris Government renewed the protests
by a Note dated April 24, 1932. This time the French strongly
reaffirmed their rights with substantive supporting arguments, e.g.
the former rights exercised by the emperors of Vietnam, the official
taking of possession by Emperor Gia Long in 1816, and the sending of
Indochinese troops to guard the islands, etc… On September 29, 1932,
the Chinese Government rejected the French protest on the ground that
at the time Gia Long took possession of the islands, Vietnam was a
vassal state of China. It may be true that, as in other periods of its
history, Vietnam was then a nominal vassal of China (although it was
never quite clear when this situation started or ended),. but it is
certain that by this reply China implicitly recognized that Vietnam
had asserted its claim to the Hoang Sa Islands. The Chinese Government
also appeared confused about the legal distinction between suzerainty
and sovereignty : even if Vietnam was a vassal state of China in 1816,
the formal relationship of suzerainty could not preclude such
Vietnamese acts of sovereignty as the incorporation of new

Convinced of her legitimate rights in the dispute, France by a
diplomatic note to China dated February 28, 1937, proposed that a
settlement of the conflicting claims be reached through international
arbitration. But China knew the risks involved in such a challenge and
declined the offer. Thus, the Chinese government simply responded by
reaffirming its claim to the islands. That negative attitude caused
the French to send military units, composed of Vietnamese soldiers and
called Garde Indochinoise, to many of the Hoang Sa Islands (28). These
units built many – sovereignty colums -, of which there exists
photographic records. The column on Pattle Island contained the
following inscription in French:

Republique Francaise

Empire d’Annam

Archipel des Paracels

1816 – Ile de Pattle 1938

These dates marked the taking of possession -by Emperor Gia Long and
the year the column was erected (29).

These troops, commanded by French officers, were to stay on the
islands until 1956 with a brief interruption after 1941. Men the
Japanese seized the Paracels (and the Spratlys) by force in -that
year, France was the only power to officially protest against it. ‘ In
1946, shortly after their return to Indochina at the end of World War
II, the French sent troops on. the vessel Savorgnan de Brazza to
re-occupy the archipelago. However, events in the French-Vietminh war
compelled these troops to withdraw from the Paracels in September,
1946. Informed that Chinese troops (who had supposedly arrived to
disarm defeated Japanese troops pursuant to agreements between the
Allied powers) continued to stay on the islands, the French issued a
formal protest on January 13, 1947. Then they dispatched the warship
Le Tonkinois to the area. Crewmembers found Boisee Island (Phu Lam)
still occupied (January 17, 1947). The Chinese troops refused to leave
and, being outnumbered, the French-Vietnamese soldiers left for Pattle
Island where they established their headquarters. They also rebuilt
the Weather Station which had operated for 6 years in the past,
between 1938 and 1944. The new station became operative in late 1947
and, under international station code 48860, provided the world with
meteorological data for 26 more years, until the day when Communist
Chinese troops seized the Hoang Sa archipelago by force (January 20,

Beginning in the 1930’s, these disputes, with China had already
motivated the French authorities in Indochina to take stronger
measures in administrative organization. By Decree No. 156-SC dated
June 15, 1932 the Governor General of Indochina gave the Hoang Sa
Islands the name of “Delegation des Paracels” – and the status of an
administrative unit of Thua Thien Province. This decree was later
confirmed by a Vietnamese imperial ordinance signed by Emperor Bao Dai
on March 30, 1938 (the confirmation was necessary because, as the
ordinance recalled, the Hoang Sa Islands had traditionally been part
of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces, from whence communications with
the islands had originated). A subsequent Decree of May 5, 1939 by the
French Governor General divided the archipelago into two Delegations:
Crescent et Dependences, and Amphitrite et Dependences.

These administrative measures were adequately completed by the
organization of services on the islands. For instance, health checks
were regularly made on the workers, called coolies by the French,
during their stay there. Consequently, civil service officers were
appointed on a regular basis. These officers had to stay permanently
on either Pattle Island (for the Crescent and Dependences Group) or
Boisee Island (for the Amphitrite and Dependences Group). However,
because of the islands’ bad climate, they were allowed long vacations
on the mainland and were relieved after short periods. One of these
former civil servants is Mr. Mahamedbhay Mohsine. a French citizen of
Indian origin who.. outraged by the Chinese invasion of 1974, has
offered to testify anywhere on the legitimacy of Vietnamese rights.
Between May 5, 1939 and March 13, 1942, Mr. Mohsine served as
Administrative Officer or De1egue administratif for the Paracels. He
was first posted on Pattle, then on July 16, 1941 was ordered to
relieve a colleague, Deputy-Inspector Willaume, on Boisee. Later Mr.
Mohsine was officially recommended for an award of distinction in
consideration of his contribution to French colonial expansion in the
remotest parts of Indochina (30).

Mr. Mahamedbhay was only one of the many civil servants and military
personnel who, by serving the French colonial cause on the Hoang Sa
Islands, directly contributed to the preservation of Vietnamese rights
which had only temporarily been exercised by the French. At an early
stage,, French action had been only intermittent – intermittence which
is not at all incompatible with the maintenance of the rights but in
the last 30 years of their presence, the French did fulfill all the
obligations of a holder of title. Thus the French accomplished a
valuable conservator act in the safeguarding of legitimacy for the
Vietnamese sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Islands.

Return to Vietnamese sovereignty.

After the French-Vietnamese Agreement of March 8, 1949, Vietnam
gradually regained its independence. Although some French troops were
intermittently stationed on some of the Hoang Sa Islands until 1956,
it was on October 14, 1950 that the French formally turned over the
defense of the archipelago to the Vietnamese. General Phan Van Gao,
then Governor of Central Vietnam, went in person to Pattle Island to
preside over the ceremony. The general made the trip to the remote and
isolated island because, as he reported to Prime Minister Tran Van Huu
in Saigon:

“I was persuaded that my presence among the Viet Binh Doan (Regional
Guard Unit) would have a comforting impact on its morale on the day
the unit took over heavy responsibilities ” (31).

No doubt Premier Tran Van Huu was pleased by the Govemor’s initiative,
since in the following year (1951) he was to attend the San Francisco
Peace Conference with Japan where he solemnly and unequivocally
reaffirmed the rights of his country over both the Paracel and Spratly
archipelagoes. After its defeat in 1945, Japan had relinquished all
its claims to these islands that their forces had occupied. This
matter will be discussed further in another chapter.

Reassuming all responsibilities for the Hoang Sa archipelago, the
Vietnamese felt that it was more practical to re-incorporate it as
part of Quang Nam Province (as things were before the French decree of
1932) because links between these insular territories and the mainland
had always originated from the Quang Nam provincial capital of Da
Nang. A proposal to that end was made in 1951 by regional authorities
in Hue (32), but it was a full ten years later that the President of
the Republic, Ngo Dinh Diem, signed a Decree (33) transferring the
Hoang Sa Islands from the jurisdiction of Thua Thien Province back to
Quang Nam. The entire archipelago was given the status of a “Xa”
(village on the mainland). Administrative organization was again
perfected 8 years later: by a Prime Minister’s Decree (34) the islands
became part of a village on the mainland of Quang Nam, the village of
Hoa Long, Hoa Vang District.

Most Vietnamese officials posted on the Hoang Sa Islands were thus
from Quang Nam Province and usually detached for about a year from
their regular position on the mainland. The first civilian officer to
be appointed by an independent Vietnamese Government was M. Nguyen Ba
Thuoc (appointed December 14, 1960 by Arrete No. 241-13NV/NV/3). After
1963 however, due to war conditions in the Republic of Vietnam, the
administrative officers- assigned there have always been military men.
They were usually NCOs in command of the Regional Forces stationed on
Duncan Island. Thus they bore the title of “Duncan Island Chief”,
concurrently in charge of Administrative affairs for the Hoang Sa

Whether civilian or military, these officers helped ensure peaceful
Vietnamese sovereignty over the islands. Scientific surveys continued,
with Vietnamese scientists joining their French colleagues in order to
deepen the knowledge about these remote territories. Manned by
Vietnamese technicians, the Pattle Weather Station continued providing
the world with meteorological data until its forced closure in 1974.
The exploitation of phosphate resumed after 1956 with the following

1957-58-59 8,000 metric tons
1960 1,570 metric tons
1961 2,654 metric tons
1962 and after 12,000 metric tons extracted, but left on the islands.

In 1956 the Ministry of Economy granted the first license to exploit
phosphate on the 3 islands of Vinh Lac (Money Island), Cam Tuyen
(Roberts) and Hoang Sa (Pattle) to a Saigon businessman named Le Van
Cang. In 1959, a license was issued to the “Vietnam Fertilizers
Company ” which contracted actual extraction and transportation to a
Singapore company Yew Huatt (4, New Bridge Road, Singapore 1). Among
other clauses, the Vietnamese Company committed itself to obtain from
the Government of the Republic of Vietnam the granting of fiscal
exemptions and the privilege to use radio facilities 4 the Pattle
Weather Station. After 1960, commercial exploitation of Pattle was
granted to the Vietnam Phosphate Company, which stopped all operations
in 1963 because of insufficient returns. Interests in phosphate
exploitation surfaced again in 1973 when the Republic of Vietnam faced
serious problems of fertilizer shortage.

In August of that year, the ” Vietnam Fertilizer Industry Company”
finished a feasibility study conducted jointly with a Japanese
partner, Marubeni Corporation of Tokyo. The survey on the islands
lasted two weeks, and Marubeni Corporation provided the engineers

It is no wonder that the exercise of normal sovereignty by the
Republic of Vietnam has had to be coupled with actions which are more
or less military-oriented. Confronting unfounded claims by China in
the Hoang Sa Islands, the Armed Forces of the Republic have been
required to display constant vigilance in the defense of this part of
Vietnamese territory. As an example, when the Chinese nationalist
troops which had refused to leave Phu Lam (Wooded or Boisee) Island in
1947 withdrew in 1950 following Marshall Chiang Kai Shek’s defeat,
Communist Chinese troops landed there immediately to continue the
illegal occupation. A Vietnamese Navy unit assumed responsibility for
the defense of the archipelago in 1956. This unit was relieved the
following year by a Marine Company. After 1959, the task was assigned
to Regional Forces of Quang Nam Province. Vietnamese warships have
patrolled the Hoang Sa waters regularly in order to check illegal
occupants on the many islands. In this regard, the People’s Republic
of China appears to have followed guerrilla-type tactics: it
surreptitiously introduced first fishermen, then soldiers onto
Vietnamese territory. They even built strong fortifications on the two
islands of Phu Lam and Linh Con. On February 22, 1959, the Republic of
Vietnam’s Navy thwarted this tactic by arresting 80 fishermen from
mainland China who had landed on the three islands of Cam Tuyen, Duy
Mong and Quang Hoa. These fishermen were humanely treated and promptly
released with all their equipment after being taken to Da Nang.

The broad range of actions by the Vietnamese authorities regarding the
Hoang Sa Islands provides an undeniable evidence of Vietnamese
sovereignty. These actions include, among others, the approval of
international contracts connected with the islands’ economy ; police
operations against aliens; extraction of natural resources ; the
providing of guarantees to other states; and so forth. Vietnamese
sovereignty was first built between the 15th and 18th centuries,
consecrated by the Nguyen emperors, then temporarily assumed by the
French, and finally continued in a normal manner by independent
Vietnam. The exercise of Vietnamese jurisdiction was effectively
displayed under a large variety of forms. It was open, peaceful, and
not, like the Communist Chinese claim, asserted jure belli. Any
interruption of Vietnamese sovereignty was due only to foreign powers’
illegal military actions against which Vietnam, or France on behalf of
Vietnam, had always protested in a timely fashion. Convinced of their
legitimate rights over the Hoang Sa Islands, the Vietnamese will never
indulge in compromises in the defense of their territorial integrity
(see Chapter IV).



The Vietnamese islands of Truong Sa, known internationally as the
Spratly archipelago, are situated off the Republic of Vietnam’s coast
between approximately 80 and 11040 North latitude. In. the course of
history, the Vietnamese people have had intermittent contact with
these islands known for their dangerous grounds and access. Unlike the
case of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, the former emperors of Vietnam
did not have the time to strengthen these contacts through the
organization of an administrative jurisdiction. However, the French,
who occupied the Southern part of Vietnam known as Cochinchina, took
all those measures necessary for the establishment of the legal basis
for possession of the Spratly Islands. In 1933, the Spratlys were
incorporated into the French colony of Cochinchina and from that year
forward have had an adequate administrative structure.

It is true that French jurisdiction was disrupted by the Japanese
invasion of 1941. However, shortly after the Japanese defeat in 1945,
France returned Cochinchina to Vietnam, which then recovered all the
rights attached to the former French colony. Immediately thereafter,
Vietnamese sovereignty over the Truong Sa Islands faced groundless
claims from other countries in the area which military occupied some
of the islands of the archipelago.

Geographic and historic background.

The Truong Sa archipelago is spread over hundreds of miles in the
South China Sea. However, it only contains 9 islands of relatively

– Truong Sa or Spratly Island proper.
– An Bang or Amboyna Cay.
– Sinh Ton or Sin Cowe.
– Nam Yet or Nam Yit.
– Thai Binh or Itu-Aba.
– Loai Ta.
– Thi Tu.
– Song Tu Tay or South West Cay.
– Song Tu Dong or North East Cay.

Because of the size of the area, the archipelago is divided into many
groups. Using the main island of Spratly (which gave its name to the
whole archipelago) as a point of reference, the distances to the
shores of surrounding countries are as follows:

– Spratly Island to Phan Thiet (Republic of Vietnam) 280 nautical
– Spratly Island to the closest shore of Hainan Island (People’s
Republic of China) 580 nm
– Spratly Island to the closest shore on Palawan Island (Philippines)
310 nm
– Spratly Island to the closest shore of Taiwan 900 nm

Like the Hoang Sa Islands, the Truong Sa archipelago is composed of
little coral islands which are often surrounded by smaller reefs.
Because of their proximity to the coast of Vietnam, these islands have
always been frequented by fishermen from the southern part of Vietnam.
These fishermen made regular expeditions to the islands and sometimes
stayed there for prolonged periods of time. Vietnamese history books
often made reference to the ,Dai Truong Sa Dao-, a term used to
designate both the Paracel and Spratly archipelagoes and, more
generally, all insular possessions of the Vietnamese (50). The map
published circa 1838 by Phan Huy Chu and called “Dai Nam Nhat Thong
Toan Do” (fig. 8, page 32) expressly mentioned the Spratlys, under the
name Van Ly Truong Sa, as part of Vietnamese territory, although the
archipelago was not located at its proper place because of the use of
ancient geographic techniques.

These distant islands were often neglected by the Vietnamese
authorities of the time. The emperors did not implement a systematic
policy of occupation on the Truong Sa Islands as they had for the
other archipelago, Hoang Sa. Furthermore, the Empire of Vietnam lost
interest in the islands off the Cochinchinese shore as the French
occupation of Cochinchina began in 1852. For their part, the French
took some time before consolidating their rights to the Truong Sa
archipelago. Their first recorded action was a scientific
reconnaissance of the Spratlys by the vessel De Lanessan following its
exploration of the Paracels (1927). This scientific mission was
followed by an official expedition in 1930 on the sloop la Malicieuse,
in the course of which the French flag was hoisted on the highest
point of an island called Ile de la Tempete.

Legal basis of Vietnamese possession.

In 1933, the French Government decided to take official possession of
the islands. Three ships, the Alerte, the Astrobale and the De
Lanessan took part in the expedition. The following are relevant
quotations from an account given by H. Cucherousset in L’Eveil
economique de l’Indochine (No. 790 of May 28, 1933) :

” The three vessels first of all visited Spratley and confirmed French
possession by means of a document drawn up by the Captains, and placed
in a bottle which was subsequently embedded in cement.

” Then the Astrolabe sailed south west to a point 70 miles from
Spratley and 200 miles from Borneo, and arrived at the caye (sandy
island) of Amboine, at the northern extremity of the Bombay Castle
Shallows. Possession was taken of the island in the manner related
above. This cave protrudes two meters 40 cm above the sea at high

” Two-thirds of the rock which forms the caye is covered with a thick
layer of guano, which the Japanese do not seem to have completely

” Meanwhile, the Alerte sailed towards the atoll Fiery Cross (or
Investigation) at a point about 80 miles north-west of Spratly and
equidistant from Cape Padaran and the southern point of Palawan
Island. The whole of this vast reef protrudes only at a few points
above the surface of the sea.

At the same time the De Lanessan proceeded towards the London reefs,
at about 20 miles north-east of Spratly. There it discovered the
wreckage of the Francois Xavier, which was wrecked there in 1927 while
on its way from Noumea to Indochina via this part of the China Sea, in
which, in spite of its great depth, navigators are not advised to sail
too boldly.

” Itu Aba. which is surrounded by a reef, is mentioned in the naval
instructions of 1919 as being covered with bushes and thickets with
the nests of many sea birds, and a number of banana and coconut trees
growing around a well….

” The De Lanessan and Astrolabe later sailed north where, about 20
miles from the Tizard bank, is situated the Loaita bank, an atoll of
the same kind. The two vessels took formal possession of the main
island, on which are also to be found the remains of plantations and
an unexhausted phosphate working. Loaita Island is a sandy isle, low,
covered with bush, and a bare 300 metres in diameter.

” The Alerte for its part visited the Thi-Thu reef, at about 20 miles
north of the Loaita bank, and took possession of an island and of this
atoll. still by means of the same ritual. This little low and sandy
isle possesses a well, a few bushes, and some stunted coconut trees. A
fair anchorage is to be found on the southern bank.”

Further north still, at the level of Nhatrang, is the atoll named
“North Danger” , the Alerte took possession of two sandy islands
(cayes) where it found some Japanese fishing. The De Lanessan went
there too and explored the little island. The latter is perceptibly
higher than the others, the highest point reaching 5 metres. The
phosphate beds are considerable and were much exploited by the

After possession had been taken, the French Ministry of Foreign
Affairs published the following notice in the French Journal Officiel
dated July 26, 1933 (page 7837)

” Notice concerning the occupation of certain islands by French naval

The French government has caused the under mentioned isles and islets
to be occupied by French naval units:

1. Spratley Island, situated 8o39′ latitude north and 111o55′
longitude east of Greenwich, with its dependent isles (Possession
taken April 13, 1930). 2.Islet caye of Amboine, situated at 7o52′
latitude north and 112o55′ longitude east of Greenwich, with its
dependent isles (Posssession taken April 7, 1933). 3.Itu Aba Island
situated at latitude 10o2′ north and longitude 114o21′ east of
Greenwich, with its dependent isles (Possession taken April 10, 1933).
4.Group of two islands situated at latitude 111o29′ north and
longitude 114o21′ east of Greenwich, with their dependent isles (36)
(Possession taken April 10, 1933). 5.Loaita island, situated at
latitude 10o42′ north and longitude 114o25′ east of Greenwith, with
its dependent islands (Possession taken April 12, 1933). 6.Thi Tu
Island. situated at latitude 11o7′ north and longitude 114ol6′ east of
Greenwich, with its dependent islands (Possession taken April 12,

The above-mentioned isles and islets henceforward come under French
sovereignty (this notice cancels the previous notice inserted in the
Official Journal dated July 25, 1933, page 7784).

Notification of the occupation was made by France to interested
countries between July 24 and September 25, 1933. With the exception
of Japan, no State which could have had an interest in the matter
raised any protest against this act. Three powers in the area remained
silent and unconcerned: the United States (then occupying the
Philippines), China, and the Netherlands (then occupying Indonesia).
In Britain, Foreign Under-secretary Butter declared 6 years later that
France exercised full sovereignty over the Spratly archipelago and
that all matters relevant to these islands were primarily a French
concern (37).

The Japanese protested the French occupation on the ground that, in
the past, Japanese subjects had carried out exploitation of phosphate
on some of these islands. It was true that Japanese companies had
operated on the Spratlys without the permission and knowledge of
French authorities. But Japan had never made any attempt toward taking
possession of these islands. In 1939., claims by the Japanese
militarist government then in power assumed a tougher tone: Japan
declared that she had decided to – place the Spratly or Tempest
Islands off the coast of Indoch’na under Japanese jurisdiction -. The
decision first appeared merely on paper, but was followed two years
later by forcible military occupation of the archipelago (1941). In
any case, in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, Japan
relinquished all titles and claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

It should also be noted that the French occupation of the Spratly
Islands in 1933 did not arouse any protest from the United States
government, which was then acting on behalf of the Philippines. Five
years earlier, the United States did engage in a dispute with the
Netherlands over the island of Palmas off the Philippine coast (38).
Since the United States did not act where a Philippine claim could
have been made, this indicates that there was no ground for a
challenge of French rights on behalf of the Philippines. It was only
35 years after the French took possession of the Spratly Islands that
Philippine troops, taking advantage of the war situation in the
Republic of Vietnam, surreptitiously occupied some islands in the
Vietnamese archipelago:

Loai Ta 10o41’N – 114o25’E

Thi Tu 11o03’N – 114ol7’E

Song Tu Dong 11o27’N – 114o21’E

All of these three islands are in the list of islands published in the
French Official Journal of July 26, 1933 which recorded the possession
of the Spratlys by French naval units. The present position of the
Philippine government that these islands are not part of the Spratly
archipelago but only res nuilius when Philippine troops occupied them
is, therefore, obviously erroneous. All three islands (which were
artificially given Malayo-Spanish sounding names) are an integral part
of the Vietnamese Truong Sa archipelago. Moreover, it remains to be
determined in a common and friendly spirit whether or not some other,
smaller, islands occupied by Philippine soldiers are dependent islets
of these Vietnamese main islands. In this regard, it should be
recalled here that when the French took possession of the Spratlys,
they only listed the major islands in the official act and indicated
that these islands were incorporated – with their dependent islets.

The Philippine government has also argued that the remaining islands
of the Spratly archipelago (i.e., those not occupied by Philippine
troops) are still -subject to the disposition of Allies in the past
world war-. According to this theory, when Japan relinquished its
rights over the Spratlys by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, its
jurisdiction was assumed by the Allied powers who have,not yet ceded
the archipelago to any particular country. No reasoning can be more
disputable, since the Spratlys were already and fully part of
Vietnamese territory before World War II. These islands were merely
seized militarily by Japan and, just like Mindoro or Guam, must simplv
return to their legitimate owner. It is obvious that military
occupation by Japan could not result in any transfer of sovereignty
over those islands and that Vietnam was ipso facto reinstated in her
lawful rights after the defeat of Japan. In the San Francisco Peace
Treaty, it was simply said that:

” Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands
and to the Paracel Islands.”

Previously, the Cairo Declaration (1943) the Yalta Agreement and the
Potsdam Declaration (1945), which are the basic documents for postwar
territorial settlements, contained no clause contrary to the
sovereignty of Vietnam over both archipelagoes. There have not been
any other legal texts that attribute these territories to any country
– as was correctly pointed out by the Philippine government. Thus, all
sovereign rights must be returned to their legal titular, i.e.,
Vietnam which, since 1949 had inherited (or rather retaken) all of the
former French rights over these territories. Therefore, the short
clause about the Paracels and Spratlys in the San Francisco Peace
Treaty was merely designed to confirm that Japan withdrew all her
claims in earlier disputes with France.

It is to the credit of the Philippine government that it has not
associated itself with the burlesque adventure of one of its private
citizens, Mr. Tomas Cloma, who has prt,ended to – discover – the
Vietnamese Truong Sa islands in 1956 and has proclaimed an independent
– Freedomland – covering most of this archipelago (39). But the fact
remains that Philippine troops are presently stationed on some of the
islands described by Mr. Cloma as part of K Freedomland v. This matter
must be settled in accordance with international law and the Charter
of the United Nations. The Vietnamese people are entirely confident
that the legal and peaceful channels available to solve such disputes
will confirm the legitimacy of their rights.

Regarding China, it must be stressed that few people have had
knowledge of any Chinese claims over the Spratlys in the past (40). In
a sudden move on August. 24, 1951, Netv China in Peking attacked both
French and Philippine claims regarding these islands and stated that
they must be considered to be – outposts of Chinese national territory
-. Subsequently, the People’s Republic of China continued to issue
statements filled with threats to use force in order to seize the
Truong Sa archipelago (41). But it was the Republic of China’s
government which took the initiative and sent troops from Taiwan to
occupy Thai Binh Island (Itu-Aba) on June 8, 1956. Itu-Aba is the
largest island of the Spratlys and thus was a kind of – capital –
where all French services were centered. As late as December 1973, the
Far Eastern Economic Review of Hongkong reported that a marker still
stood there with the inscription: (France – Ile ItuAba et Dependances
– 10 Aouit 1933 – (42).

Exercise of normal state authority.

The headquarters of a French administrative officer, who also
commanded a guard detachment ‘ was located on Itu Aba Island. Because
of the isolation and the hard living conditions on the island, only
volunteers to the post were sent there. Sometimes, no government
official would volunteer, so the Indochinese authorities had to
recruit private citizens by means of contracts which lasted one year.
These contracts contained generous allowances and other largesses in
an attempt to retain volunteers on the island. One of the a “contract
officials,” was Mr. Burollaud who held out for 2 years (1938-1940). It
was apparently difficult to find a successor for Mr. Burollaud, since
the Governor General in Hanoi had to send a note dated August 22, 1940
throughout Indochina (and to the French possession of
Kouang-Tcheou-Wan in ichina) to look for a volunteer – who must be a
European. The official finally recruited turned-out to be most
unlucky, since, according to an eyewitness named Tran Van Manh who was
serving at that time with the Itu-Aba Meteorological Station, he was
seized and tied to the flag pole by Japanese troops occupying the
Spratlys in 1941 (43). Regarding administrative organization, 3 months
after the official incorporation of the Spratlys, the Governor General
of Indochina signed Decree No. 4762-CP dated December 21, 1933 making
the archipelago a part of the Cochinchinese province of Ba-Ria. After
Cochinchina was returned to Vietnam, this organization was confirmed
in 1956 bv a Decree of the President of the Republic of Vietnam (44).
Seventeen years later, the Spratlys were attached to a village of the
same province (the name of which had in the meantime changed to Phuoc
Tuy), the village of Phuoc Hai, Dat Do district (45). State activities
on the Spratlys were necessarily restricted because the islands were
uninhabited and situated too far away from the mainland. In 1938, the
Indochina Meteorological Service set up a weather station on Itu-Aba,
which was considered the best place in the South China Sea to provide
meteorological data for neigbouring countries. The Station functioned
in French hands for over 3 years after which it was reported to have
continued operations under Japanese military occupation. Before the
Japanese seizure, the Itu-Aba station was important enough to be given
an international code number: 48919. Data provided by the Station were
recorded all over the world qnd were listed under – French Indochina –
Cochinchina,,. The French also continued scientific surveys of the
Spratlys after 1933. For instance, a valuable geographic and aeologic
study of the Spratlys was made available in the 22nd Report of the
Oceanographic Institute of Indochina (46).

Thus, on behalf of Vietnam, the French conducted various kinds of
activities which substantiate the right to sovereignty over a
territory. These also include diplomatic activities to ensure the
protection of possession by the authority in control. France defended
with success the Spratlys against Japanese aims. The Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in Paris protested energetically on April 4, 1939 when
Japan announced that she had “placed the islands under her
jurisdiction”. France remained active right until 1956, the year when
all her troops finished their withdrawal from Indochina. ‘ As late as
May 1956, after Mr. Tomas Cloma created his so-called “Freedomland”,
the French Charge d’Affaires in Manila was reported to have reminded
the Philippine government of the French rights resulting from the 1933
occupation (47). At the same period, the French Navy vessel Dumont
d’Urville made a visit to Itu-Aba in a demonstration of French –
Vietnamese interest in the archipelago. The Republic of Vietnam’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, issued a statement on June
1, 1956 recalling the Vietnamese rights. Two weeks later, Foreign
Minister Vu Van Mau of the Republic of Vietnam reaffirmed at length
the rightful position of his country (48). He recalled, among other
facts, that five years earlier the head of the Vietnamese Delegation
at the San Francisco Peace Conference had solemnly reaffirmed
Vietnamese sovereignty over the Truong Sa archipelago and that the
statement was not challenged by any participating country, including
China and the Philippines.

From 1956 on, in the face of Chinese and Philippine groundless
pretenses, the Republic of Vietnam’s Navy began to launch various
operations to reassert control over the Truong Sa Islands. Crewmembers
erected sovereignty steles on almost all of them and built poles to
hoist the Vietnamese flag. The cruiser Tuy Dong (HQ-04) was assigned
these missions in August 1956. In 1961, the two cruisers Van Kiep and
Van Don landed on the islands of Song Tu Tay (South-West Cay) Thi Tu,
Loai Ta and An Bang. Two other islands, Truong Sa (Spratly proper) and
Nam Ai (Nam Yit) were visited the following year by the cruisers Tuy
Dong and Tay Ket. Finally, in 1963, all of the sovereignty steles on
the main islands were systematically rebuilt by crew members of the
three vessels Huong Giang, Chi Lang and Ky Hoa:

May 19, 1963 steles on Truong Sa Island (Spratly proper)
May 20, 1963 steles on An Bang Island
May 22, 1963 steles on Thi Tu and Loai Ta Islands
May 24, 1963 steles on Song Tu Dong (North East Cay) and Song Tu Tay
(South West Cay).

The pace of these patrol and control operations were reduced after
1963 due to the war situation in the Republic of Vietnam. That does
not mean, however, that Vietnamese rights on the Truong Sa archipelago
have been diminished, even if foreign powers were then able to take
advantage of the situation to commit illegal intrusion in some of
these islands. These rights had been openly established in the name of
Vietnam when the French incorporated the archipelago into Indochina.
Moreover, these territories were traditionally known and frequented by
Vietnamese in the past. The French action of 1933 was entirely in
conformity with international rule and practice. It was challenged by
no one except Japan, who later relinquished all her claims. An
effective presence and a peaceful exercise of sovereignty have been
firmly assured. This has only been interrupted once and temporarily
when Japan seized the Truong Sa Islands by force in 1941. As in the
case of the Hoang Sa Islands, a foreign military presence has not and
will not break the will of the Vietnamese to remain as the owner of
all their territories. Therefore, let it be reminded that the islands
now illegally occupied by foreign troops are indivisible parts of the
Truong Sa archipelago which belong to the Vietnamese people.



In preceding Chapters, it has been mentioned that the Vietnamese have
always assured an appropriate defense of their rights over the Hoang
Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands. Vietnamese or French
troops were stationed permanently on both archipelagoes in a display
of authority that is inherent to rightful sovereignty. In the
diplomatic field, it has been recalled that France remained active
until 1956 in the defense of the legitimate title it held on behalf of
Vietnam. In 1932, then again in 1939, France issued particularly
strong protests against pretenses from China concerning the Paracels
and from Japan concerning the Spratlys.

Independent Vietnam had later to confront serious challenges to her
sovereignty over these islands. At the San Francisco Peace Conference
of 1951, Vietnam unequivocally reaffirmed its rights over both
archipelagoes. The Vietnamese chief delegate dearly stated the
position that, in settlement of territorial problems resulting from
World War II, only Vietnam was entitled to recover the Hoang Sa and
Truong Sa Islands from Japan. The defense of this cause continued
actively during the following years. In response to the Chinese
invasion of January 19-20, 1974, the Republic of Vietnam’s soldiers
fought heroically in the face of superior military force. Backed by
all segments of the population, they kept alive the Vietnamese
tradition that the temporary loss of physical control over a territory
does not mean the relinquishing of a legitimate right.

From the San Francisco Peace Conference to 1973.

When Japanese military control ended in 1945, the Hoang Sa and Truong
Sa Islands returned ipso facto to their legitimate owners. H ever, the
confusion resulting from the war allowed other countries make bolder
moves toward asserting their groundless claims. Specifically, the
Republic of China illegally continued to station on some of the Hoang
Sa Islands the troops that had been sent there to disarm Japanese
soldiers in implementation of the Potsdam agreement. Thus the
successive governments of newly independent Vietnam assumed the task
of doing their utmost to protect the territorial integrity of the
country. The first opportunity to do so was at the San Francisco
Conference held in 1951 to work out a peace treaty with Japan. The
gathering was attended by delegates from 51 countries. According to
agreements reached, Japan renounced all rights and claims to the
Paracel and Spratly Islands. The head of the Vietnamese delegation to
this Conference was Prime Minister Tran Van Huu, who was also Minister
of Foreign Affairs. On September 7, 1951, during the seventh plenary
session of the Conference, the Vietnamese delegate made the following

“+ICY-as we must frankly profit from all the opportunities offered to us
to stifle the germs of discord, we affirm our right to the Spratly and
Paracel Islands, which have always belonged to Vietnam “.

The statement aroused no objections from any of the 51 countries
attending the Conference. This must be considered as having been the
universal recognition of Vietnamese sovereignty over these islands.
The declaration by Premier Huu was designed to reaffirm an existing
right, therefore it has an effect erga omnes, i.e., even vis-a-vis
those countries not represented at the Conference (for instance, the
People’s Republic of China).

On the other hand, the full text of Article 2 of the Peace Treaty
shows that the two archipelagoes were considered as one single entity
in the settlement of territorial matters:

Chapter II Territory

Article 2

a) Japan, recognizing the independence of Korea renounces all right,
and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton
and Dagelet.

(b) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the

(c) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands,
and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over
which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of
Portsmouth of September 5, 1905. (d) Japan renounces all right, title
and claim in connection with the League of Nations Mandate System, and
accepts the action of the United Nation Security Council of April 2,
1947, extending the trusteeship system to the Pacific Islands formerly
under mandate to Japan.

(e) Japan renounces all claim to any right or title to or interest in
connection with any part of the Antarctic area, whether deriving from
the activities of Japanese nationals or otherwise.

(f) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands
and to the Paracel Islands.

The Treaty does not specify which countries were to recover which
specific territories renounced by Japan. However, from the above, it
is clear that each sub-paragraph is relevant to the rights of one
particular country, for example:

sub-paragraph (b) : rights of China.
sub-paragraph (c) : rights of the USSR.
sub-paragraph (d) : rights subsequently conferred upon the United
sub-paragraph (f) : rights of Vietnam.

This interpretation was confirmed by the refusal by the Conference to
consider a Soviet amendment that would include the Paracels and
Spratlys into the sphere of Chinese rights. The Soviet amendment reads
as follows:

“1. To Article 2.

“(a) To include, instead of paragraphs (b) and (f), a paragraph
reading follows: Japan recognizes full sovereignty of the Chinese
People’s Republic over Manchuria, the Island of Taiwan (Formosa) with
all the islands adjacent to it, the Penlinletao Islands (the
Pescadores), the Tunshatsuntao Islands (the Pratas Islands), as well
as over the Islands of Sishatsuntao and Chunshatsuntao (the Paracel
Islands, the group of Amphitrites, the shoal of Maxfield) and
Nanshatsuntao Islands including tile Spratly, and renounces all right,
title and claim to the territories named here in.

The Soviet Amendment was defeated during the 8th plenary session of
the Conference. The President of the Conference ruled it out of order,
the ruling being sustained by a vote of 46 to 3 with 1 abstention
(49). Chinese claims to the Paracels and Spratlys were thus
overwhelmingly disregarded.

At a later date, the government of the Republic of China restated its
claims based on the separate peace treaty between it and Japan (April
28, 1952). Actually, the provision concerning the Paracels and
Spratlys in that treaty was an exact restatement of Article 2 (f) of
the San Francisco Treaty. Once again, Japan declined to specify in
favor of which country it renounced its occupied territories. In any
case, it must be stressed again that there exists an elementary
principle of law that a state (in this case Japan) cannot transfer
more rights than it itself possesses, in accordance with the maxim
Nemo dat quod non habet. Generally speaking, the illegitimacy of
China’s claims over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes is due to
the lack of animus occupandi on Chinese’s part. It is true that
fishermen from Hainan Island have frequented these islands in the past
and that Chinese travelers occasionally stopped there. But unlike what
has been done by Vietnam, activities by private Chinese citizens were
never followed by governmental action. As late as 1943, although
Marshall Chiang Kai Shek represented the only country having claims to
the Paracels and Spratlys at the Cairo Conference, he did not have any
reference to these islands included in the final Declaration (which
did state that Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores must be returned
to China). Because of the weakness of its argument, China has always
declined all suggestions, repeatedly made, in the past by France, that
the dispute be settled before international courts.

For the same reason, the People’s Republic of China had to resort to
gratuitous affirmations, threats and violence to assert her claims to
the Vietnamese Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Islands. These claims are a mere
revival of the old Chinese imperialistic drive known to all South-East
Asia nations. The islands, islets, shoals and banks that the People’s
Republic of China claims as a the outposts of Chinese territory))
cover the entire South China Sea, and would virtually convert the
whole sea into a communist Chinese lake.

After the San Francisco Peace Conference, successive Vietnamese
Governments have assured a systematic defense of the Hoang Sa and
Truong Sa islands by all means available to a sovereign state. After
1956, when stability had returned to the Republic of Vietnam following
the Geneva Agreement of 1954, military and diplomatic activities
became more intense. As mentioned before, navy patrols were conducted
on a regular basis. When deemed necessary, the government of the
Republic of Vietnam solemnly reiterated its rights over the islands
(statements by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 1, 1956 and
July 15, 1971). Necessary steps were also taken vis-a-vis foreign
governments in order to assert the Vietnamese title. For instance, a
note to the Malaysian Government dated April 20, 1971 contained all
the convincing arguments in support of Vietnamese sovereignty. This
sovereignty was so evident that it could only be contested through
military actions.

The Chinese invasion of January 19-20, 1974.

Before 1974, the People’s Republic of China had aired sporadic claims
to the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Islands. Occasionally, it conducted
secret actions against the islands, such as the intrusion of –
fishermen , into Vietnamese uninhabited territories. However, at the
beginning of 1974, the People’s Republic of China resorted to
blatantly aggressive tactics in order to militarily seize the Hoang Sa
archipelago. The following is an account of the invasion made by the
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam. In the face of
the extremely grave situation created by the PRC’s imperialistic
action, RVN Foreign Minister Vuong Van Bac summoned the heads of all
diplomatic missions in Saigon on January 21st, 1974 and made the
following statement:

– Excellencies,


” I have invited you to gather here today to inform you of recent
events which have taken place in the area of the Hoang Sa (Paracel)
archipelago off the central coast of Vietnam. These events have
created an emergency situation susceptible of endangering peace and
stability in South East Asia and the world.

” The Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes are a
part of the territory of the Republic of Vietnam. The sovereignty of
our country over these archipelagoes based on historical, geographical
and legal grounds as well as on effective administration and
possession, is an undeniable fact.

” On the 11th of January 1974, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Red
China suddenly claimed sovereignty over these archipelagoes. Our
Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately rejected those unfounded

” From then on, Communist China chose to use force to seize that
portion of our national territory. It sent men and warships into the
area of the islands of Cam Tuyen (Robert), Quang Hoa (Duncan) and Duy
Mong (Drumond) of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, and landed
troops on these islands.

” On January 16, 1974, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic
of Vietnam issued a statement to denounce these unlawful acts.

” In the meantime, in accordance with international regulations, naval
units of the Republic of Vietnam instructed those men and ships
violating the land and sea territory of the Republic of Vietnam to
leave the area.

“The Red Chinese authorities not only refused to put an end to their
unlawful incursions but also sent in additional reinforcements in
troops and warships. They opened fire on the troops and naval units of
the Republic of Vietnam, causing causalities and material damages. The
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam issued a
communiqu+AOk- on the 19th of January alerting world public opinion on
these serious acts of hostility.

” On the 20th of January 1974, the Red Chinese authorities escalate
further in the use of force against an independent and sovereign
country. They sent their warplanes to bomb three islands : Cam Tuyen
(Robert), Vinh Lac (Money) and Hoang Sa (Pattle) where units of the
Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam were stationing, and also
‘landed their troops -with the aim of capturing these islands.

” Communist China is therefore openly using force to invade a portion
of the Republic of Vietnam’s territory in violation of international
law, of the Charter of the United Nations, of the Paris Agreement of
January 27, 1973 which it pledged to respect and of the Final Act of
March 2, 1973 of the International Conference on Vietnam to which it
is a signatory.

” The Government and people of the Republic of Vietnam shall not yield
to such brazen acts of aggression. They are determined to safeguard
their national territory.

” I kindly request you to report to your Governments on this grave
situation. The Government of the Republic of Vietnam also wishes that
your Governments would adopt an appropriate attitude and take
appropriate action in view of those acts committed recently by the
Communist Chinese authorities in the Hoang Sa (Paracels) archipelago,
in complete disregard for international law and the sovereignty of
other nations.

Thank you.

In the naval battle, the soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam fought
heroically although they were outnumbered and outgunned. They suffered
18 deaths and 43 wounded, and, in addition, 48 Vietnamese personnel
were illegally detained by the PRC’s invaders. Among those were four
civilian employees of the Pattle Meteorological Station: this is an
evidence that Vietnamese authorities were conducting peaceful
activities on the islands before troops had to be sent in to cope with
PRC’s provocations. Strongly condemned by world opinion, the PRC
government had to release these personnel within 3 weeks in an attempt
to appease the indignation caused by its blatant violation of the law
of nations. Opinions sympathetic to the Republic of Vietnam were
expressed everywhere in the world, especially in Asia where Vietnam
was often hailed as the nation resisting communist Chinese
expansionism. Even the Soviet newspaper Pravda accused the PRC a not
to hesitate to resort to arms in order to impose its will in Southeast
Asia, specifically on the Paracel and Spratly Islands – (50). Also in
Moscow, Tass provided a summary of an article from “New Times – (a
Soviet political weekly). The article quoted the PRC’s support of
separatist movements in Burma, Bangladesh and India among other
Peking’s provocations in order to – intensify pressures on independent
countries of Asia)-. According to -New Times,, this coincided with
Peking’s military actions on the Paracels (51).

Convinced of its rightful position, the Republic of Vietnam appealed
to world opinion and seeked the intervention of all bodies that could
contribute to a peaceful settlement. As early as January 16, 1974 its
Minister for Foreign Affairs sent a note to the President of the
Security Council of the United Nations to bring to his attention the
grave tensions created by the PRC’s false claims. After he had
presented arguments in support of Vietnamese’ sovereignty over the
Hoang Sa Islands, Minister Vuong Van Bac wrote: “In view of all the
Precise facts listed above,, the sudden challenge by Communist China
of the Republic of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels archipelago
and its violation of the Republic of Vietnamese sovereignty are
unacceptable. They constitute a threat to the peace and security of
this region.

” The Government and people of the Republic of Vietnam are determined
to defend their sovereignty and their territorial integrity and
reserve the right to take all appropriate measures to this end.

“The Republic of Vietnam considers the situation created by the above
People’s Republic of China’s action as one which is likely to endanger
international peace and security. Therefore the Government of the
Republic of Vietnam wishes to request the Security Council to take all
appropriate measures that the Council deems necessary to correct that
situation.”. The Minister addressed the United Nations again on
January 20. .1974, while troops of the Republic of Vietnam were still
fighting back the PRC’s invaders in the Hoang Sa waters. He wrote to
the Secretary General of the U.N. to inform him of the hostilities
that started on January 19, 1974 when the Chinese landing party opened
fire on Vietnamese defenders. After denouncing the clear case of c
aggression across international borders, against an independent and
sovereign state,,. Minister Vuong Van Bac requested that the Secretary
General, in accordance with Article 99 of the Charter of the United
Nations, draw the attention of the Security Council on the grave
situation. For its part, K the Government of the Republic of Vietnam
accepts in advance the obligations of pacific settlement provided in
the Charter of the United Nations, and – reaffirms its faith on the
United Nations and its acceptance of the purposes and principles
enunciated in the Charter of the Organization . Although the
Government of the Republic of Vietnam was fully aware that the PRC, as
a permanent member of the Security Council had the power of veto (a
fact which left little hope for any constructive debate or positive
action), it chose to request an immediate meeting of the Security
Council. The attention of the Council must be drawn on the grave
situation resulting from the PRC’s aggression because, as Minister Bac
pointed out in has note of January 24, 1974 to the Council’s President
(Ambassador Gondola Facio) : “It behooves the Security Council and its
members to fulfill their responsibilities and to decide on what to be
done to correct that situation “. Indeed, the PRC promptly tried to
justify its blatant act of invasion by presenting a completely
distorted version of the facts. A PRC’s statement referred to c
actions by the Saigon authorities in South Vietnam which sent naval
and air forces to encroach on the Yungle Islands of China’s Hsisha
Islands , (!).

In a press conference on January 25, 1974, the President of the
Security Council stated that the Vietnamese request had all legal
grounds to deserve consideration, therefore he regretted that a
Council meeting could not be convened for that purpose.

The legitimacy of its rights motivated the Republic of Vietnam to use
all available means of action to defend its just stand. A recourse to
the International Court of Justice has been contemplated. On January
22, 1974 the President of the Republic of Vietnam wrote personal
letters to the Heads of State in all friendly countries. After he had
presented how the PRC’s violation of Vietnamese sovereignty created a
threat to peace in South East Asia, President Nguyen Van Thieu

“I am therefore writing to you…. to kindly request that you raise
your voice in defense of peace and stability in this area of the world
and resolutely condemn the violation by the PRC of the sovereignty of
the Republic of Vietnam over the archipelago of Hoang Sa”. In other
actions taken in defense of Vietnamese sovereignty, the Minister for
Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam solemnly reaffirmed before
the 3rd United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea in Caracas
that the Vietnamese people will not yield to the PRC’s act of violence
and that they will never renounce any part of their insular
territories (June 28, 1974). The Government of the Republic of Vietnam
also sent a note on January 21, 1974 to the. signatories of the Act of
the International Conference on Vietnam (March 2, 1973). This
document, signed in Paris by 12 countries including the PRC and in the
presence of the Secretary General of the United Nations acknowledged,
and provided guarantees for, the provisions of the agreement to end
the war signed on January 27, 1973. First the Vietnamese note
presented the facts related to the PRC’s aggression, then it pointed
out that:

“It is clear from these developments that the government of the
People’s Republic of China is deliberately resorting to the use of
force as a means of acquiring territories, which is a gross violation
of… the Agreement to End the War and Restore Peace in Vietnam signed
in Paris on January 27, 1973 and the Act of the International
Conference on Vietnam signed at Paris on March 2nd, 1973.

“The Government of the Republic of Vietnam wishes to call the
particular attention of the Parties to Article 1 of the Paris
Agreement and Article 4 of the Act of the Paris International
Conference, which both solemnly recognize that the territorial
integrity of Vietnam must be strictly respected by all states and
especially by the signatories of the Final Act.

“In view of the seriousness of the present situation, the Government
of the Republic of Vietnam appeals to the Parties, in the interest of
peace and stability in the Western Pacific area, to take all measures
which the Parties deem appropriate as provided in Article 7 of the Act
of the international Conference on Vietnam – (52). The PRC’s
aggressive aims is not limited to the Hoang Sa Islands. There were
indications that Chinese troops were preparing to head for the Truong
Sa (Spratly) archipelago after they had seized the Paracels on January
20, 1974 (53). On the other hand, in February 1974, the Philippines
and the Republic of China also restated their claims to the Truong Sa
Islands. The Republic of Vietnam rejected these unfounded claims by
separate notes to the Republic of China (January 29, 1974) and to the
Philippines (February 12, 1974). But the Government of the Republic of
Vietnam also deemed it necessary to make its position clear to x
friends and foes alike , and to reiterate its right before an
universal audience. Thus, a solemn proclamation at the governmental
level was issued on February 14, 1974. This declaration is the text
reproduced at the beginning as an introduction to this White Paper.



The events of January 1974 had the effect of cementing the entire
Vietnamese nation into a bloc resolutely united in order to defend the
national sovereignty. After the invasion by troops of the People’s
Republic of China, all newspapers (including those of the Opposition)
and other media in Saigon unanimously backed the Government of the
Republic of Vietnam in its determination to fight for the Hoang Sa
Islands. The media’s opinion and the feeling of the people can be
summarized by the following editorial in the Dan Chu daily: ” In the
middle of a difficult battle to repulse 400,000 North Vietnamese back
to the North and a struggle for economic development, the Paracels
battle is another burden on our shoulder. The naval battle between us
and China has temporarily ceased with both sides suffering heavy
casualties and material damages. But in reality, it was only just a
beginning. The method to carry on the fight will be flexible depending
on the development of the situation but the goal remains the same. The
South Vietnamese will not stay idle, crossing their arms, to see their
ancestral inheritance stolen away.” Although the Vietnamese are known
to be war-weary, enthusiastic mass rallies were held in virtually
every city and town to condemn the PRC’s aggression. Everywhere the
people unanimously adopted resolutions denouncing before public
opinion the violation of Vietnamese sovereignty. Most of these
resolutions also asked the Government and Armed Forces of the Republic
of Vietnam to take appropriate measures against the invaders. The
warship Ly Thuong Kiet received a hero welcome by an overwhelmingly
enthusiastic crowd upon its return from the Hoang Sa battle. On
January 21, 1974 the Vietnamese Confederation of Labor stated that
Communist China committed a an extremely serious act infringing on the
Republic of Vietnam’s sovereignty and crudely challenging the national
spirit of the Vietnamese people living from Nam Quan Pass (54) to Ca
Mau Cape. , The Saigon Students Union issued a declaration which
vehemently denounced the invasion to University students over the
world. The War Veterans Association made a solemn proclamation to
condemn the – Red China’s violation of intemational law – and
expressing deep gratitude to the Vietnamese combatants or their heroic
fight against the aggressors. Abroad, Vietnamese students and
residents in several countries demonstrated in an attempt to alert
world opinion: in Tokyo, Ottawa, New York etc…. Vietnamese students
marched against the PRC’s diplomatic mission; in Geneva, Vietnamese
students went on a hunger strike to draw attention on the PRC’s
violation of international public order. The indignation of the entire
Vietnamese people at home and abroad was reflected in a true manner in
the declaration of the National Assembly (Senate and House of
Representatives) of the Republic of Vietnam. This declaration says, in
part, that c Communist China… has clearly demonstrated her scheme of
invasion and expansion, (and) poses a serious threat to peace in the
Pacific Region. Therefore, the National Assembly denounces to the
public opinion at home and abroad Communist China’s brutal act of
invasion, seriously infringing upon the territorial sovereignty of the
Republic of Vietnam and – urgently appeals to the United Nations
Security Council, the International Court of Justice and peace-loving
countries in the world to take positive actions to put an end to the
above-mentioned brutal act…” The people of the Republic of Vietnam
are thus unanimous in their determination to defend the integrity of
their territory. On behalf of the Vietnamese nation, the Republic of
Vietnam resolutely demands that all portions of her territory that are
illegally occupied be restored to Vietnamese sovereignty. The
Government of the Republic of Vietnam solemnly condemns the brazen act
of invasion of the Hoang Sa Islands by troops of the People’s Republic
of China in January, 1974. It strongly denounces illegal actions
against its Truong Sa territories by any other country. It rejects all
claims by any power over these Islands and regards attempts to occupy
them as violations of international law and of Vietnamese sovereignty.
Although deeply committed to the cause of peace, the Republic of
Vietnam must reserve the right to consider all means of action if
occupying powers decline to follow the lawful and peaceful channels of
settlement to restore Vietnamese rights.

The Hoang Sa archipelago and some of the Truong Sa Islands have
temporarily been lost. But these insular territories will live for
ever in Vietnamese hearts and will some day be restored to the





– State History Academy (Quoc Su Quan). Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien
Volumes L, LII, CIV, CLIV and CLXV; printed in 1848.- Ministry of
Public Works. Kham Dinh Dai Nam Hoi Dien Su Le, section 204; 1851.-
State History Academy. Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi (6th Volume: Quang Nghia
Province); last edition: 1910 original work in Chinese characters,
translated into modern Vietnamese by Cao Xuan Duc Saigon 1964.- State
History Academy. Quoc Trieu Chinh Bien Toat Yeu, 3rd Volume. Last
edition: 1925S; originally in Chinese characters ,translated into
modern Vietnamese by the ” History and Geography Research Group .,
Saigon 1972.

– Protectorate of Annam Bulletin Administratif de l’Annam, Hue, Years:
1932 and 1938 through 1945.

_ Ministry of Economy, Republic of Vietnam, Mineral Distribution Map
of the Republic of Vietnam; Tectonic Map of the RVN; Preliminary
Metallogenic Map of the RVN; Saigon

– Ministry of Information and Open Arms, RVN. Hoang Sa, Lanh tho VNCH,
Saigon 1974.


Books originally in Chinese characters.

– Do Ba. Toan Tap Thien Nam Tu Chi Lo Do Thu, published circa 1653.
Map of Quang Ngai Province and accompanying notes translated by Truong
Buu Lam in Hong Duc Ban Do, a publication of the Historical Research
Institute, Saigon 1962.

– Le Qui Don. Phu Bien Tap Luc, 1776; translation into modern
Vietnamese by Le Xuan Giao, Saigon 1972.

– Phan Huy Chu. Lich Trieu Hien Chuong Loai Chi; year of original
publication uncertain; translation into modern Vietnamese by Nguyen
Tho Duc Saigon 1971

Modern publications

– Claeys, Jean Yves. ” The Vietnamians and the Sea . in Asia Quarterly
of Culture, Volume III. June 1953, Saigon.

– Dinh Phan Cu Chu Quyen Quan Dao Hoang Sa va Truong Sa, National
School of Administration, Saigon 1972.

– Cucherousset, Henri:

La Question des iles Paracels . In L’Eveil Economic de l’Indochine,
Hanoi issues of January 27, 1929; May 19, 1929; May 26, 1929: February
26, 1933.

Les iles Paracels et la securite de l’Indochine ., ibid, May 10, 1931.
L’lndochine aux Paracels ., ibid., May 31. 1931. Histoire moderne des
iles Paracels ., ibid., July 3, 1932 and July 17, 1932.

A la conquete des iles a phosphates (Spratley) ., ibid., May 28, 1933.

Les Annamites et la Mer ., ibid., February 25, 1934

– Lacombe, A.E. “Histoire moderne des iles Paracels., ibid., May

– Lam Giang. “Nhung su lieu Tay phuong chung minh chu-quyen Viet Narn
ve quan dao Hoang Sa, Truong Sa “, in Su Dia review, n+ALA- 29,
January-March 1975, Saigon.

– Le Thanh Khe. ‘Chu quyen Viet Nam Cong Hoa tren hai quan dao Truong-
Sa va Hoang Sa in the review Chinh Tri va Cong Dan, issue of Jan. 1,

– Malleret, Louis. Une tentative ignoree d’etablissement francais en
Indochine au 18e siecle . in Bulletin de la Societe des etudes
indochinoises, no. 1, Hanoi, 1942.

– Pasquier, P. Histoire moderne des iles Paracels . in L’Eveil
economique de 1’Indochine, issue of June 12, 1932.

– Pham Quang Duong. Van de chu quyen tren dao Hoang Sa in Su Dia,
Dalat, issue of November 1970; ” Cuoc tranh chap chu quyen tai quan
dao Truong Sa , ibid; issue of November 1971.

– Sale, Gustave. Les iles Paracels . in Avenir du Tonkin, Hanoi, issue
of April 17, 1931.

– Salles, A. Le Memoire sur la Cochinchine de J.B. Chaigneau .,
Bulletin des amis du Vieux Hue, Hanoi, isisue of April-June 1923.

– Tran Dang Dai, Mr. and Mrs. ‘ Hoang Sa qua vai tai lieu van kho cua
Hoi Truyen-giao Ba Le in Su Dia issue of January-March 1975.

– Tu Minh. Cuoc tranh chap chu quyen tren cac quan dao Hoang Sa vi
Truong Sa, in Bach Khoa, issue of February 9, 1914

– Vo Long Te. Les archipels de Hoang Sa et de Truong Sa selon les
anciens ouvrages Vietnamiens d’histoire et de geographie, Saigon 1974.

Scientific Studies

– Chevey, Pierre. Temperature et salinite de l’eau de mer de surface
des iles Paracels, (43rd Report of the Indochina Oceanographie
Institute), Saigon

– Chevey, Pierre. Iles et recifs de la mer de Chine, in Bulletin de la
Societe des Etudes Indochinoises, May 1934.

– Clerget, Maurice. Contribution a l’etude des iles Paracels Les

– Delacour, J. and Jabouille, P. Oiseaux des iles Paracels, Saigon

– Fontaine, Henri and Le Van Hoi. Contribuhon a la connaissance de la
ftore des iles Paracels. Faculty of Sciences, Saigon 1957.

– Krempf, A. La forme des recifs coralliens et le regime des vents
alternants Saigon 1921,

– Kunst, J. Die strittigen Inseln in S+APw-dchinesischen Meer, in
Zeitschrift f+APw-r Geopolitik, Berlin / Heidelberg, 1933.

– Saurin. E. ” Notes sur les iles Paracels . in Archives geologiques
du Vietnam, Saigon 1955; ” Faune malacologique des iles Paracels . in
Journal de Conchiliologie, volume XCVIII, Paris 1958; Gasteropodes
marins des iles Paracels, Faculty of Science, Saigon 1960 (I), l961
(II); Lamellibranches des iles Paracels, Saigon 1962,


– Barrow, John. A Voyage to Cochinchina, London 1806.

– Boudet. Paul and Masson, Andre. Iconoraphie historique de
L’lndochine francaise, Paris 1907.

– D’Estaing (Admiral). Note su- l’Asie demandee par M. de la Borde a
M. d’Estaing, manuscript (1768), archives of the French Government.

– Government of the French Republic. Journai Officiel, July 26, 1933,
Ministere de la Marine: Depot des cartes et plans. Les Paracels,

– Manguin, Pierre Yves. Les Portugais sur les cotes du Vietnam et du
Campa PEFEO, Paris 1972.

– Rousseau, Charles. Le differend concernsnt rappartenance des lles
Spratly et Paracels, in Revue generale de Droit international public,
July-September, 1972, p. 826, Paris

– Saix, Olivier. +ALc- Iles Paracels, in La Geographie, issue of
November-December 1933, Paris.

– Sauvaire, Jourdan. ” Les Paracels infiniment petits de notre domaine
colonial, in La Nature, issue of November 1, 1933, Paris.

– Serene, R. ” Petite histoire des iles Paracels,+ALc- in Sud Est
Asiatique, issue January 19, l9S1, Brussels.

– Silvestre, Jules. L’Empire d’Annam et le peuple annamite, Paris 1889

– Taberd, Jean Louis. ” Note on the Geography of Cochinchina, in
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, India, issue of April

– United Nations. ECAFE. Phosphate Resources of Mekong Basin
Countries, Bangkok 1972.

– United States Government. The Spratly / Paracels Islands Dispute,
U.S. Army Analysis Q1066; Conference for the Conclusion and Signature
of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, Dept. of State Publication 4392;
Washington D.C.- Vivielle, J. ” Les llots des mers de Chine, in Monde
colonial iZZustre, September 1933, Paris.



We are sorry! Due to the printing difficulties, we can not complete
the auditing this paper.

1. The Atlas is being kept at the ” Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient”,
Tokyo Bunko Library in Tokyo, Japan, has a microfilm of it under
reference number 100891.

2. Ly is an ancient unit of measure (1 ly: 483 meters or 528 yards).

3. Dai Chiem: present-day Cua Dai, province of Quang Nam; Sa Vinh:
present-day Sa Huynh, province of Quang Ngai.

4. The author assumedly included in three Hoang Sa archipelagoes main
islands and reefs closer to the Vietnamese shore than the islands
desigated as the Paracels in the 20th century…

5. Internationally-known Vietnamese historians have, directly or
indirectly, contributed to the task of determining the date of the Do
Ba document. Among them are Prof. Hoang Xuan Han and historian Truong
Buu Lam, who has been associated with many American universities.
Details on this question can be found in Vo Long Te, Les Archipels de
Hoang Sa et Truong Sa selon les anciens ouvrages Vietnamiens
d’Histoire et de Geographie. – Saigon. 1974.

6. Summarized and commented in Bulletin de l’Ecole Francaise d’Extreme
Orient, Vol. XXXVI, 1936.

7. This term is often used to designate all the distant insular
posseessions of Vietnam.

8. Lettres edifiantes et curieuses des Missionnaires de Chine, quoted
in the Revue Indochine, No. 46, p. 7.

9. The document was reprinted in Bulletin des etudes indochinoises,
tome XVII, No. l Hanoi, 1942.

10.Archives of the French Navy, Ministere de la Marine, Paris. The
document was reprinted in Bulletin de la Societe des Etudes
indochinoises, tome XVIII, No. 1, Hanoi, 1942.

11. Translation into French from Arrow’s book is available in Paul
Boudet and Andre Masson. Iconographie historique de l’Indochine
Francaise, p. 250-300. Paris, editions G. Van Oest. 1907.

12.Issue of April 1837. pp. 737-745.

13.Jean Baptiste Chaigneau, Notice sur la Cochinchine, presented and
commented by A. Salles in Bulletin des amis du Vieux Hue, No. 2, April
– June 1923, p. 253-283.

14. History annals called – Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien, 1833, 104th

15. Principle of international law established after the Palmas Island
dispute (1928). See United Nations – Reports of International Arbitral
Awards, pp. 829-855.

16. History annals Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien

17. History annals Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien, 165th volume.

18. In Vietnamese: – Dai Nam Nhat Thong Toan Do – Dai Nam is a former
name for Vietnam.

19. Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien, 154th Volume. The same description is
given by the Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi (Dai Nam Comprehensive
Encyclopedia). 6th Volume devoted to Quang Nghia, present day Quang
Nam, Province.

20. Truong, xich, thuoc are ancient units of measure (1 truong: 3.91
yards or 3.51 meters ; I xich or thuoc : 14.1 inches or 0.36 m.).

21. This isle is erroneously named Ban-Na in other publications, for
example Sauvaire Jourdan “Les Paracels infiniment petits de notre
domaine colonial.

22. Annals Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien, 154th Volume.

23. Kham Dinh Dai Nam Hoi Dien Su Le, or Administrative records of the
Dai Nam, Ministry of Public Works, p.25.

24. History Annals Su Quoc trieu chanh bien toat yeu; Year of original
publication unknown. Reprinted in 1935.

25. Map named Tabula Geographica Imperii Annamitici 1838, reprinted in
J. Silvestre, I’Empire d’Annam et le peuple annamite, Paris 1889.,
Felix Alean, editeur

26. E. Cortambert and L. de Rosny, Tableau de la Cochinchine, Paris

27. Sauvaire Jourdan “Les Paracels infiniment petite de notre domains
colonial” in La Nature, issue of November 1, 1933, Paris.

28. Reported by the French Daily+ICY-

29. The French engineer who supervised the work, Mr. Andre Faucheux,
is presently 75 years old and lives in Paris.

30. …

31. Memorandum No. l104 VP/CT/M dated October 30, 1950.

32. Memorandum No. 1220-VP/CT/M dated September 17, 1951 and signed by
the Director of Political and Legal Affairs, Government Delegation to
Central Vietnam

33. Decree No. 174-NV dated July 13, 1961.

34. Decree No. 709-BNV/HCDP/26 dated October 21, 1969 signed by Mr.
Tran Thien Khiem.

35. …

36. The coordinates correspond to those of S6ng Tu D6ng (North East
Cay) and Shira Island.

37. …

38. It may be noted that the principles established by the
intemational Court of Justice in the Palmas decision (1928) cannot but
reinforce Vietnamese rights, for instance, the emphasis given to the
actual exercise of sovereignty over mere geographic contiguity (see
Reports of International Arbitral Awards, United Nations. p. 829).

39. The lack of seriousness in this undertaking does not deserve
further comments. Mr. Tomas Cloma was reported arrested by the
Philippine police in November 1974 on charge of committing acts
detrimental to state authority on insular territories.

40. For instance, a comprehensive study of the Spratlys question by
Professor Charles Rousseau in Revue Generale de Droit International
Public, July-September 1972, does not mention any sort of Chinese
claims to this archipelago prior to 1951.

41. New China; bulletin dated February 4, 1974.

42. Far-Eastern Economic Review, HongKong, Dec 21, 1973

43. Mr. Tran Van Manh is presently the Chief of Tuy Hoa Meteorological
Service, Republic of Vietnam.

44. Decree No. 143-NV signed on October 22, 1956 by the laie President
Ngo Dinh Diem.

45. Arrete No. 420-BNV/HCDP/25X signed on September 6, 1973 by the
Minister of the Interior.

46. Rapport sur le fonctionnement de l’Institut Oceanographique de
l’Indochine, 22, Note, Saigon 1934.

47. Reported by Prof. Charles Rousseau in Revue General de Droit
International Public July-September 1972, p.830.

48. Vietnam Press

49. Conference for the Conclusion and Signature of the Peace Treaty
with Japan – Record of Proceedings : U.S. Dept. of State Publication
4392, December 1951. page 292.

50. Agence France Presse news dispatch sent from Moscow, February 10,

51. Reuter news dispatch from Moscow, February 21, 1974.

52. Article 7 (a) : In the event of a violation of the Agreement or
the Protocols which threaten the peace, the independence, sovereignty,
unity or territorial integrity of Vietnam, or the right of the South
Vietnamese people to self-determination, the parties signatory to the
Agreement and the protocols shall, either individually or jointly,
consult with the other Parties to this Act with a view of determining
necessary remedial measures.

53. As presented in Chapter III. on February 4, 1974 the PRC issued a
particularly aggressive statement on the Truong Sa archipelago.

54.The Nam Quan pass marks the border between Vietnam and China.
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