(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||The Paracel Islands are surrounded by productive fishing grounds and by potential oil and gas reserves. In 1932, French Indochina annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island; maintenance was continued by its successor, Vietnam. China has occupied the Paracel Islands since 1974, when its troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison occupying the western islands. China built a military installation on Mischief Reef in 1999. The islands are claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.|
|History||From 1460 – 1497, under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong, Vietnamese began to organize the exploitation of both the Truong Sa and the Hoang Sa Archipelago farther to the north.This exploitation consisted of harvesting valuable sea-products and conducting salvaging operations to collect cargoes from vessels shipwrecked in the treacherous waters of the Truong Sa.
From 1680 – 1705, Do Ba Cong Dao issued Route Maps from the Capital to the Four Directions This is the first Vietnamese documentation of formal exercise of authority over the Hoang sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly)
In 1700s, State-sponsored occupation of the islands can also be traced to the reign of the Nguyen lords. Salvaging operations became formalized with the establishment of the Hoang Sa detachments or brigades, units of 70 men from the village of An Vinh, the recruitment and organization of which were regulated by the Vietnamese government.Portuguese and Dutch maps drawn by navigators in the early 17th century identify the islands as Vietnamese.
From 1802,During the reign of the Nguyen emperors, documentation was produced that distinguished the Truong Sa archipelago from the Hoang Sa Islands and identified both as Vietnamese possessions.
In 1816,the Vietnamese flag was planted in a formal ceremony on the Paracels
In 1836, emperor Minh Mang received a report from his Ministry of Public Works that recommended a comprehensive survey of all the East Sea islands because of their “great strategic importance to our maritime borders.”
In 1838,Phan Huy Chu published the “Detailed Map of the Dai Nam. The map “expressly mentioned the Paracel and Spratlys, under the name Hoang sa , Van Ly Truong Sa , as part of Vietnamese territory. Also in thí year, Bishop Jean-Louis Taberd published the ” Map of Great Annam” (Annam Dai Quoc Hoa Do) confirmed Paracel -Bai Cat Vang – Hoang sa as part of Vietnamese territory.
During 1800s,the Nguyen dynasty continued to exercise jurisdiction over the Truong Sa Islands without protest from any country until the French protectorate was established over Vietnam in 1884.
1932, Paracel Islands was placed on the map of Vietnam by the Nguyen Dynasty. The Paracel were controlled by Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam.
In 1932, French Indochina and Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island.
In 1939, Empire of Japan invaded and occupied from the French. Ironically, the official reason for the Japanese invasion was that the islands were Chinese territory.
After World War II, the Republic of China government reaffirmed the Chinese sovereignty over the islands like other islands in the South China Sea, and dispatched patrol force to the islands, but this was challenged by the French. However, the dispute was only political and diplomatic as both sides attempted to gain US backing.
In the latter half of 1940s, French reclaimed the Paracel Islands. The Republic of China has never accepted the French claims.
In 1951, at the San Francisco Conference on the Treaty of San Francisco with Japan, which formally nations are sovereign over these islands, Vietnam’s representative claimed that both the Paracel and Spratly Islands are territory of Vietnam, and was met with no challenge from the nations at the conference. However, neither the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China were invited. They were busy fighting a civil war, and both considered the claim was a violation of Chinese sovereignty and neither had accepted it. Both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China condemned the decision and reaffirmed their control over the islands politically and diplomatically.
After the fall of the nationalist regime in China, the Chinese controlled eastern half of the Paracel islands also fell into the communist hands. Several small clashes occurred between the French and the communist Chinese naval forces during this period but was eventually settled along the actual line of control with the Chinese occupying Woody Island and the Macclesfield Bank while the remainder were held by Franco-Vietnamese forces. Although,there had been no recognition of any country about China claim of the island.
After the French left in 1956, South Vietnam replaced the French in controlling the islands. Again, both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China politically and diplomatically condemned the decision and reaffirmed their control over the islands. Although the South Vietnamese inherited the same French claim over the entire Paracel Islands, the period was marked by the peace and both sides held on what was in their control without venturing into other’s domain. At the same time, the maps and other official documents of the North Vietnam government during this period had shown that the islands belong to China, mainly due to the fact that China was the largest backer of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
The political and diplomatic dispute became an armed conflict on January 20, 1974 in the Battle of Hoang Sa 1974 when the South Vietnamese Government unilaterally declared its intention to survey the island territory for petroleum extraction in early January 1974. During the same time, the South Vietnamese Navy sent a fleet of frigates to the area and positioned the fleet over the line of control. The South Vietnamese fleet fired at and killed several Chinese fishermans operating in the area at the time, as well as firing at patrolling Chinese ships and injuring Chinese Navy personnel. In response, Chinese Naval forces departed from China under order on January 20, 1974 for the Paracel Islands and swiftly overran the South Vietnamese positions on the islands in addition to the defending surface fleet. With the ensuing civil war embroiling South Vietnam’s attention, no military attempt was made to retake the islands from the People’s Republic of China following its defeat, and has been administered by the People’s Republic of China since.
|Geography||Location: Southeastern Asia, group of small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, about one-third of the way from central Vietnam to the northern Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 16 30 N, 112 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: NA sq km
land: NA sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: NA
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 518 km
Maritime claims: NA
Terrain: mostly low and flat
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Rocky Island 14 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: typhoons
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: composed of 130 small coral islands and reefs divided into the northeast Amphitrite Group and the western Crescent Group
|People||Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered Chinese garrisons
|Government||Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Paracel Islands
|Economy||Economy – overview: China announced plans in 1997 to open the islands for tourism.|
|Transportation||Airports: 1 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Ports and terminals: small Chinese port facilities on Woody Island and Duncan Island being expanded
|Military||Military – note: occupied by China|
|Transnational Issues||Disputes – international: occupied by China, also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam|