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Spratlys > News > English News > April 2004 

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Truong Sa spratly Ė an undeniable sovereignty of Vietnam

07 April 2004


Truong Sa soldiers tending vegetables to improve their daily meals

Vietnamís tourism sector has announced that it will launch regular one-week tours to Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago later this month.

According to Duong Xuan Hoi, Deputy Head of the Tourism Department under the Vietnam Administration of Tourism, visitors will leave Tan Cang in Ho Chi Minh City for Da Tay island, where they will visit the sci-tech research centre, and Dai Hung oil industrial zone, sunbathe, go fishing and explore the environment and natural resources. They will then make an excursion to Con Dao (the Poulo Condo) islands.

The tourism sector has prepared a well-equipped cruiser with 190 cabins. Mr Hoi said to date about 100 people have registered for the trip, which costs VND2.8 million each. In the near future, Hoi said, the tourism sector will organize 4 to 5 trips to Truong Sa Archipelago usually in every March and April, and open other marine tours.

Truong Sa boasts more than 100 islands and coral reefs, covering a total area of up to 180,000 sq.km. The Archipelago has eight groups namely Song Tu, Loai Ta, Thi Tu, Nam Yet, Sinh Ton, Truong Sa, Tham Hiem and Binh Nguyen. Ba Dinh is the largest island with an area of 0.6 sq.km, followed by Nam Yet island, covering 0.5 sq.km.

Early this year, the Culture and Information Department of south-central Khanh Hoa province exhibited nearly 40 photos featuring maps and hand-writings of Vietnamís feudal regimes from the 17th to the 19th centuries, as well as marine maps and records of western navigators, confirming Vietnamís sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa archipelagos.

According to books on history, Vietnam was located beside the East Sea. To expand the area, the Nguyen Dynasty not only reclaimed new land southward, but also eastward. Old documents showed that in the early 17th century, the Vietnamese feudal regime explored and occupied the two archipelagos, which had previously not belonged to any country.

The feudal regime had many times surveyed the topography and natural resources of the islands, and even exploited the two archipelagos. The results of the surveys had been written down in books on the geography and history of Vietnam, which were published in the 17th century.

For several hundreds of years, the feudal regimes had maintained sovereignty over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa. Each year, troops were sent to the two archipelagos to take a tour of duty of between 5-6 months. Vietnam never received any opposition from any country during this period.

Western navigators and missionaries from Portugal, the Netherlands, the United Kingdoms and France knew Truong Sa and Hoang Sa well, for they had coral reefs which were dangerous for seafarers. Almost all western navigation maps from the 16th to the 18th centuries grouped Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos under the name Pracel/Parcel/Paracel and defined their locations in the East Sea of Vietnam. Thanks to developments of marine navigation and mapping technology, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa were later defined as the Pracels and the Spratlys, respectively, both belonging to Vietnam.

Under French rule, from April 12, 1930 to April 12, 1933, the French sent marine troops to be stationed on the major islands of the Truong Sa archipelago, including Truong Sa, An Bang, Jtu Aba, Song Tu, Loai Ta, and Thi Tu.
On Dec.21, 1933, the Governor of Nam Ky (Southern Vietnam) M. J. Krautheimer signed a protocol to merge those islands into Ba Ria province. Five years later, France built a meteorological station and radio-frequency station on the Jtu Aba island of the Truong Sa archipelago.
On Sept.7, 1951, Tran Huu Tuyen, Head of a government delegation under the Bao Dai King, proclaimed sovereignty over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa archipelagos at the San Francisco conference to sign a peace treaty with Japan. He said, "We reiterate our long-held sovereignty over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa archipelagos."
The proclamation received no opposition from delegates representing 51 countries attending the conference.

In 1956, marine troops of the Saigon regime took over the two archipelagos, after French troops withdrew from Vietnam. In October the same year, the Saigon government put Truong Sa archipelago under the administrative management of Phuoc Tuy province. It later erected posts on An Bang, Song Tu Tay, Song Tu Dong, Thi Tu and Loai Ta islands.

In July 1973, the Agriculture Research Institute under the Saigon Agriculture Development and Housing Ministry surveyed Nam Yet island of Truong Sa archipelago. On Sept. 6, 1973, the Saigon regime merged Truong Sa, An Bang, Jtu Aba, Song Tu Dong, Song Tu Tay, Loai Ta, Thi Tu, Nam Yet, Sinh Ton and other adjacent islands into Phuoc Hai commune, Dat Do district, Phuoc Tuy province.

On May 5-6, 1975, the Provisional Government of Southern Vietnam announced the liberation of the islands on Truong Sa archipelago.
On Dec. 9, 1982, the Ministers Council of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam decided to turn Truong Sa archipelago into Truong Sa District of Dong Nai province.
Twenty days later, the 7th legislature decided to merge Truong Sa district into Phu Khanh province.
On July 1, 1989, Phu Khanh province was split into Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces, and Truong Sa district belonged to Khanh Hoa province.

All this evidence shows that Truong Sa and Hoang Sa archipelagos clearly come under Vietnamís sovereignty. Vietnam occupied the two archipelagos in the early 17th century and has maintained them continuously and peacefully.

In terms of legal basis, as a coastal country, Vietnam has the right to sovereignty over the exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf, subject to international law, particularly the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that Vietnam signed. Without Vietnamís permission, any act of any country toward Truong Sa and Hoang Sa archipelagos, as well as Vietnamís exclusive economic zones and continental shelf, violates sovereignty and the right to sovereignty of Vietnam.

Truong Sa archipelago is obviously part of Vietnamís integrity. It is of strategic significance and of special importance to the cause of national construction and defence.

source: http://www.vov.org.vn/2004_04_07/english/chinhtri1.htm