Vietnam's Truong Sa island. (Source: vietnamtourism.com)

Thua Thien-Hue (VNA) – The Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) fully exercised Vietnam’s sovereignty over its seas and islands and shaped the country’s territory as it is today, according to scholars.

According to Associate. Prof. Dr. Do Bang, Vice President of the Vietnam Association of Historic Science and President of the Thua Thien-Hue Association of Historic Science, said the Nguyen Dynasty emperors’ exercise of national sea and island sovereignty was evidenced by a temple named Hoang Sa on Phu Lam island in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago which was built by captain Pham Van Nguyen and his soldiers along with people from the central provinces of Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai.

“The erection of a god-worshipping temple in Hoang Sa archipelago in Quang Ngai shows Hoang Sa belongs to Quang Ngai’s territorial waters. It has a white sandbank covered with green trees and a well in the middle, an ancient temple in the southwest, and coral reefs winding along its eastern, western and southern coasts,” according to Dai Nam thuc luc (Records of the Great South).

“To the north, it borders a coral reef islet called ‘Ban Than’ Rock which is 340 ‘truong’ in perimeter and 1.3 ‘truong’ in height. Last year, the King ordered erection of a temple and a stele there but this work was not done yet. Now, he dispatched captain Pham Van Nguyen and his soldiers and hired boatmen from Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh provinces to transport materials there to build a temple. To the left of the temple, a stone stele was erected and a partition was built in front of the temple. The work was completed after 15 days,” it reads.

Hoang Sa temple obviously evidenced Vietnam’s exercise of sovereignty in Hoang Sa archipelago, affirmed Prof. Dr. Vu Minh Giang, President of the Scientific Council under the Hanoi-based National University.

It can be said that Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes was fully exercised without any disputes under the Nguyen Dynasty, he said.

The dynasty annually sent teams to carry out missions in Hoang Sa, from map drawing and tree planting to sea route surveying, temple building and sovereignty marker planting.

According to Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, the latest study on sea and island sovereignty based on the Nguyen Dynasty’s official documents and historical books showed that the Nguyen Dynasty exercised national sovereignty over seas and islands throughout its reign from 1802 to 1945.

The Nguyen Kings made great efforts in expanding the national territory and firmly defending the seas and islands of the country, including the continuous exercise of the national rights to manage Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos, which were handed down by the previous monarchies.

This can be seen as a great achievement recorded by the Nguyen dynasty in the 19th century.-VNA