ISLANDS AND ARCHIPELAGOS OF VIET NAM 17

2. The process of establishing the sovereignty of Viet Nam over Hoang Sa and Triioing Sa archipelagos.
Until the 17th century, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos were nobody’s islands. In contemporary geography, these two archipelagos were seen as an adjacent strip. The Viet people at first called them by the nom language name of “Bai Cat Vang” (Yellow sand ground). In the first half of the 17th century, the Nguyen Lords organized the “Hoang Sa Team”. Members of this team were the people requisitioned from An Vinh commune, Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province. They arrived on the islands to collect goods and equipment on stranded vessels and exploit rare and valuable sea products offered later to the royal court. The Nguyen Lords also organized the Bac Hai Team to recruit people from Tu Chinh village, Canh Duong commune, Binh Thuan district and granted them written permission to arrive on Truong Sa archipelago to fulfill the same tasks as the Hoang Sa Team. These operations were recorded in lots of historical documents such as “Set of Maps of Viet Nam” drawn by Do Ba in the 17th century; “Records on Pacifying the Frontier Peoples” by Le Quy Don in 1776; “Written Classification of the Rules of Dynasties” by Phan Huy Chu in 1821. These operations were also recorded in the books compiled by the National History Academy of the Nguyin dynasty in 1910. For example, in the part about the 1844- 1848 period of the book “Annals of the Real Life of the Nguyen Lords”; in the part about the 1844-1848 period of the book “Annals of the Real Life of the Nguyen Kings”; in the book “Dai Nam Geographical Book”; in the book “Geographical Book” of the book set “Institutions and Activities of the State Apparatus of Viet Nam under the Nguyen Dynasty”; and in the book “Sketches of History of National Dynasties”. Hoang Sa and Triibng Sa archipelagos were also noted in foreign works such as “Batavia Diary” (1636), “Overseas Memoirs” (1696), “Great Map of the Annam State” (1838), and so forth. Along with exploiting sea products and collecting goods and equipment on stranded vessels, the Nguyen dynasty also continuously carried out land surveying and measuring on the islands. In 1834, 1835 and 1836 steles and landmarks were set up and trees were planted on the islands.
By means of exploitation of natural resources on Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos for centuries, the Nguyen dynasty had really and legally owned these two archipelagos since the time when they still did not belong to the territory of any state; and the Nguyen dynasty converted them from nobody’s archipelagos into an integral part of the territory of Viet Nam.
In the time of French domination (1858 – 1954), acting as representative for the An Nam (i.e. Viet Nam) feudal dynasty, the French conducted lots of actions to strengthen the sovereignty of Viet Nam over Hoang Sa archipelago, for example performing patrols and controlling and sending soldiers to take over and camp on the islands. For administrative purposes, the authority of that time merged Truong Sa archipelago with Ba Ria province and established the territorial administration unit of Hoang Sa archipelago as belonging to Thua Thien province. The French had many projects built in both archipelagos. Throughout 1931 and 1932 the French continuously protested China’s claim of sovereignty over Hoang Sa archipelago.
After the Second World War, the French returned to Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. On 6 September 1951, in his speech at San Fransisco Conference to formally end the war between Japan and the Allied Powers, the Vietnamese representative officially announced and confirmed Viet Nam’s long-standing sovereignty over the two archipelagos as follows: “…And also for the purpose of utilizing all opportunities to extinguish the seeds of later debates, we confirm our long-standing sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracels archipelagos which have been made a territorial part of Viet Nam.” Later on, after France’s withdrawal from Viet Nam, the government of the Republic of Viet Nam stationed army units on these archipelagos, taking over the responsibility of management of these archipelagos pursuant to the Geneva Agreement on Viet Nam in 1954, which allowed the Republic of Viet Nam to temporarily manage half of Viet Nam from the 17th latitude southwards, pending the country’s unification through free general elections.
At this time the governments of Viet Nam continuously and peacefully asserted and maintained sovereignty over the two archipelagos through state activities. The Sai Gon government decided to merge Hoang Sa archipelago of Thua Thien province into Dinh Hai commune of Hoa Vang district, Quang Nam province; and decided to merge Truong Sa archipelago into Phuoc Hai commune, Dat Do district, Phuoc Tuy province. In April 1956, the government of the Republic of Viet Nam sent soldiers to replace the French soldiers on the islands of the western island group of Hoang Sa archipelago. And while they were not yet in time for such operations on the islands of the eastern island group, a foreign army secretly occupied this island group.
In January 1974, when the foreign army used military air and navy forces to occupy the western island group of the Hoang Sa archipelago of Viet Nam, the Sai Gon authority exposed this violation of Vietnamese sovereignty over Hoang Sa archipelago. On 20 January 1974, the provisional revolutionary government of the Republic of South Viet Nam declared against the action of the foreign country. On 14 February 1975, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Sai Gon regime published the White Book on the historical and legal rights of Viet Nam over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.

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