This post was edited by abramicus at 2015-6-8 11:05|
The Issue of
South China Sea
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
People's Republic of China
China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. It was the first to discover and name the islands as the Nansha Islands and the first to exercise sovereign jurisdiction over them. We have ample historical and jurisprudential evidence to support this, and the international community has long recognized it. During World War II, Japan launched the war of aggression against China and occupied most of China's territory, including the Nansha Islands. It was explicitly provided in the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and other international documents that all the territories Japan had stolen from China should be restored to China, and naturally, they included the Nansha Islands. In December 1946, the then Chinese government sent senior officials to the Nansha Islands for their recovery. A take-over ceremony was held on the islands and a monument erected in commemoration of it, and the troops were sent over on garrison duty. In 1952 the Japanese Government officially stated that it renounced all its "right, title and claim to Taiwan, Penghu Islands as well as Nansha and Xisha islands", thus formally returning the Nansha Islands to China. All countries are very clear about this part of historical background. As a matter of fact, the United States recognized China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands in a series of subsequent international conferences and international practice.
For quite a long period of time after WWII, there had been no such a thing as the so-called issue of the South China Sea. No country in the area surrounding the South China Sea had challenged China's exercise of sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. Prior to 1975, Vietnam had, in explicit terms, recognized China's territorial integrity and sovereignty over the Nansha Islands. Before the 1970s, countries like the Philippines and Malaysia had never referred to their territories as including the Nansha Islands in any of their legal instruments or statements made by their leaders.In the Treaty of Peace signed in Paris in 1898 and the Treaty signed in Washington in 1900 between the United States and Spain, the scope of the Philippines' territory was expressly laid down, which did not include the Nansha Islands. This was further confirmed in the Philippines Constitution of 1935 and the Mutual Defense Treaty Between the Philippines and the United States in 1951. As for Malaysia, it was only in December 1978 that it first marked part of the Nansha Islands, reefs and waters into the territory of Malaysia in its published continental shelf maps.
Moreover, the Nansha Islands are recognized as China's territory by governments of quite a few countries and by resolutions of international conferences. For example, Resolution No. 24 adopted by the ICAO conference on Pacific regional aviation held in Manila in 1955 requested the Taiwan authorities of China to improve meteorological observation on the Nansha Islands, and no representative at the conference made objection to or reservation about it. In maps published in many countries, the Nansha Islands are marked as China's territory. For example, this is clearly done in Japan's Standard World Atlas of 1952, which was recommended by the then Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuo Okazaki in his own handwriting, the World New Atlas published in Japan in 1962, which was recommended by the then Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira , the Welt-Atlas published in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1954, the Penguin world atlas published in the United Kingdom in 1956, and the Larousse atlas published in France in 1956. Vietnam acknowledged the Nansha Islands as being China's territory in its world maps published in 1960 and 1972 as well as its textbooks published in 1974. The Nansha Islands are recognized as China's territory in many countries' authoritative encyclopedias published since the beginning ofthe 20th century, such as the Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations in the United States in 1963, the Bolshaya Sovietskaya Enciclopediya of 1973 and the Japanese Kyodo World Manual of 1979.
Beginning from the 1970s, countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia have by military means occupied part of the islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands, gone in for big-scale resource development in waters adjacent to the Nansha Islands and laid claim to sovereignty over them. In view of this, the Chinese Government has time and again made solemn statements that these acts constitute serious infringement upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are illegal, null and void. The so-called legal basis provided by those countries is not tenable at all.
China's Sovereignty over Nansha Islands
China was the first to discover, name, develop, and conduct economic activities on and exercise jurisdiction of the Nansha Islands.
A. China the First to Discover and Name the Nansha Islands
The earliest discovery by the Chinese people of the Nansha Islands can betraced back to as early as the Han Dynasty. Yang Fu of the East Han Dynasty (23-220 A.D.) made reference to the Nansha Islands in his book entitled YiwuZhi (Records of Rarities) , which reads: "Zhanghai qitou, shui qian er duo cishi"("There are islets, sand cays, reefs and banks in the South China Sea, the water there is shallow and filled with magnetic rocks or stones").Chinese people then called the South China Sea Zhanghai and all the islands, reefs, shoals and isles in the South China Sea, including the Nansha and Xisha Islands, Qitou.
General Kang Tai, one of the famous ancient Chinese navigators of the East Wu State of the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280AD), also mentioned the Nansha Islands in his book entitled Funan Zhuan (or Journeys to and from Phnom) (the name of an ancient state in today's Cambodia). He used the following sentences in describing the islands: "In the South China Sea, there are coral islands and reefs; below these islands and reefs are rocks upon which the corals were formed."
In numerous history and geography books published in the Tang and Song Dynasties, the Nansha and Xisha Islands were called Jiuruluo Islands, Shitang (literally meaning atolls surrounding a lagoon), Changsha (literally meaning long ranges of shoals), Qianli Shitang, Qianli Changsha, Wanli Shitang, and Wanli Changsha among others. Reference was made to the Nansha Islands in over one hundred categories of books published in the four dynasties of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing in the name of Shitang or Changsha.
There were more detailed descriptions of the geographical locations and specific positions of the various islands of the Nansha Islands in the Yuan Dynasty. For instance, Wang Dayuan, a prominent Chinese navigator in the Yuan Dynasty, wrote about the Nansha Islands in his book entitled Abridged Records of Islands and Barbarians in these words: "The base of Wanli Shitang originates from Chaozhou. It is tortuous as a long snake lying in the sea. Its veins can all be traced. One such vein stretches to Java, one to Boni (or Burni, a kingdom which then existed in what is now Brunei in the vicinity of the Kalimantan) and Gulidimen (another kingdom on the Kalimantan), and one to the west side of the sea toward Kunlun (Con Son Islands, located outside the mouth of the mekong River some 200 nautical miles away from Saigon) in distance. "Wanli Shitang here refers to all the islands in the South China Sea, including the Nansha Islands.
In the Consolidated Map of Territories and Geography and Capitals of Past Dynasties published in the Ming Dynasty, we find the words"Shitang", "Changsha" and "Shitang." Judging from the geographical locations of these places as marked on the Map, the second Shitang denotes today's Nansha Islands.
The Road Map of the Qing Dynasty marks the specific locations of all the islands, reefs, shoals and isles of the Nansha Islands where fishermen of China's Hainan Island used to frequent, including 73 named places of the Nansha Islands.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .