Vietnam’s sovereignty over archipelagos throughout history

Vietnam was the first country to have established sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (known as Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spartly) archipelagos when they were unclaimed territories. This is shown in many historical documents as well as ancient Vietnamese and foreign maps.

Under the reign of Emperor Gia Long (1802-1820) Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago was further strengthened.

In 1805, the King ordered a land survey from the south to the north of the country and requested the making of administrative documents on land areas, which was completed in 1836.

The emperor also re-established the Hoang Sa flotilla and its affiliated unit, the Bac Hai flotilla, with the aim of managing, protecting, and exploiting Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

The activities of the Hoang Sa flotilla are recorded in the two main national history books of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty: Đại Nam Thực Lục tiền biên, published in 1844, and Đại Nam Thực Lục chính biên, in 1848.

Other historical evidence on the management and exploitation of the two archipelagos is systematically recorded in detail in many other ancient Vietnamese bibliographies, and especially in official documents from dynasties stored at the National Archives Center No 1.

Recently-collected evidence of the establishment and enforcement of State sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago is the birth certificate of Ms Mai Kim Quy that states that Quy was born at 3pm on December 7, 1939, on Hoang Sa Island (Pattle Island), in the Hoang Sa archipelago. The certificate was signed and sealed by a representative of the French administrative unit based on Hoang Sa on June 28, 1940.

Historical evidence of Vietnam’s long-standing sovereignty over the two archipelagos is also recorded in many documents from foreign authors.

The above-mentioned evidence shows that Vietnam was the first country to have established and exercised sovereignty over the two archipelagos in a peaceful, open, and continuous manner and since at least the 17th century. This is also in accordance with international law and is clearly and widely recognised by the international community./.