The truth about the sea dispute

Updated: 2014-06-14 09:17

By Ling Dequan (China Daily)

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Vietnam says it has evidence to prove its claim in South China Sea but is ignoring own historical documents that vindicate China's position

Vietnam has been using China-Vietnam clashes in the South China Sea, and distorting facts, fanning passions and playing up the "China threat" theory, to vilify China. Ignoring the overall development of Beijing-Hanoi relationship, Vietnam is pretending to be a "victim" in the South China Sea dispute, saying it is prepared to seek international arbitration on the issue.

Vietnamese leaders have said that they have enough historical evidence to justify Vietnam's sovereignty over "Huangsha" and "Changsha" islands, claiming that Vietnam has been the "master" of the two islands since the 17th century. It seems like they have lifted their remarks straight out of a white paper "Truth of China-Vietnam Relationship over 30 Years", issued by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry in 1979 when bilateral ties were not normal. Worse, almost all the arguments in that 1979 document were copied from a "white paper" issued by the Saigon-based puppet South Vietnam regime (or the Republic of Vietnam) in February 1974.

Now the Vietnamese leaders, using the so-called historical documents, are trying to claim that Vietnam's "Huangsha" and "Changsha" islands are actually China's Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands. The fact is that, the islands recorded in Vietnamese documents refer to some other islands surrounding Vietnam instead of the Xisha and Nansha islands.

To encroach on China's territory in the 1970s, the South Vietnam regime distorted historical facts, which were adopted by later Vietnamese leaders for political purposes. This has complicated the issue and caused serious damage to Sino-Vietnamese ties.

A look at the evidence presented in China's diplomatic documents in the late 1970s and early 1980s will reveal the truth. In fact, even some Vietnamese scholars have said that the documents cited by Vietnam to claim sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha islands are not genuine historical records but edited versions of originals, confirming China's sovereignty over the islands.

Vietnamese leaders said China forcibly occupied the entire "Huangsha Islands" in 1974, which were then controlled by the Saigon regime. The Saigon regime had kicked up a row over the naval battle that broke out in 1974 in the waters around China's Xisha Islands and sought military support from its ally, the United States, and requested the UN Security Council's intervention. But neither the US nor the UN Security Council acceded to the Saigon regime's request. This means the international community, including the US, has never believed in Vietnam's complaints or claims.

On Sept 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh announced the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi. In January 1950, the People's Republic of China became the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Ho Chi Minh-led Vietnam. For China and a vast majority of the other countries, the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (later the Socialist Republic of Vietnam), was (and has been) the only legitimate government of Vietnam, and the government of South Vietnam, a puppet regime installed by French colonialists and American imperialists.

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