These are maps of Vietnam’s territory during the feudal period, drawn by the country’s dynasties and foreign navigators. All confirm Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, which has the old name of “Bai Cat Vang” (Golden Sandbank), and the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.
Meanwhile, maps of China’s territory do not include Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos. All clearly show that Hainan Island is the country’s southernmost point, which does not cover the two archipelagos.
The authentic evidence of Vietnam’s sea and island sovereignty has therefore existed for hundreds of years.
Safeguarding tens of thousands of miles of the East Sea
Vietnamese land will be prosperous and peaceful forever
The verse from famed late scholar Nguyen Binh Khiem was the iron recommendations to younger generations to protect the country’s sovereignty over seas and islands, including the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos, and their special importance in the nation’s destiny.
The earliest Vietnamese document mentioning Hoang Sa is “Toan tap Thien Nam tu chi lo do thu” (The Collection of the South’s Road Maps), published in 1686 under the Hau Le (Later Le) Dynasty.
It reads: “There is a long sandbank called Bai Cat Vang, about 400 miles long and 20 miles wide, in the middle of the sea. From Dai Chiem Estuary to Sa Vinh Estuary, every time the southwest winds blow, merchant ships of countries start drifting and their crews starve to death. Their goods are all left there …”
Since then, Bai Cat Vang has gradually become an indispensable part of Vietnam’s territory and been shown in a number of maps drawn in later periods. In 1838, the National History Department of the Nguyen Dynasty named the two archipelagos Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, confirming their official locations in the “Dai Nam nhat thong toan do” (the Complete Map of Unified Dai Nam), with Dai Nam being an old name for Vietnam.
In particular, 19 of the Nguyen Dynasty’s royal documents constitute historical evidence of the Vietnamese feudal state’s establishment and exercise of sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos. These royal documents, recognised as being part of the world’s documentary heritage, feature the emperors’ approval and the dynasty’s seal, and have undeniable historical and legal value.
From the reign of the Nguyen Lords, the Hoang Sa flotilla that also took charge of “Bac Hai” (faraway islands in the south of Hoang Sa) moved to Hoang Sa to exploit its resources, measure and draw maps, and plant markers establishing sovereignty.
Given their dedication, the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty decided to posthumously bestow the title “Thuong dang than” (God of the Supreme Rank) upon the captains of the Hoang Sa flotilla and the “Hung binh Hoang Sa” (Heroic Soldiers of Hoang Sa) title upon soldiers of the flotilla.
Diverse documents in different historical periods from Vietnam, the West, and China prove that since the 17th century, Vietnam has owned and practiced its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in an actual, constant, and peaceful manner. Therefore, any country’s declaration of sovereignty or occupation of the islands of these two archipelagos are violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty and territory./.VNA