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Paracel Islands
 
Map of the Paracel Islands
Population: 1,440 (2014 est.)
note: Chinese activity has increased in
recent years, particularly on Woody Island, where the population exceeds 1,000; there
 are scattered Chinese garrisons on some
other islands.

....                       Chinese cultural relics in the Paracel islands dating from the Tang                                and Song dynasty eras indicate there is some evidence of Chinese
                             habitation on the islands in these periods.

....                       Ancient Vietnamese maps record B
ai Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, as
                             claimed today by Vietnam referring to both Paracel and Spratly
                             Islands).

1537                       Portuguese sailor de Pinto names the islands as the 

                             Ilhas do Pracel.
1816                       Vietnamese flag planted in a formal ceremony on the Paracels.
1885                       China restates its claim to the islands.

17 Oct 1887                Claimed by France as part of French Indochina (see Vietnam).
1909 - 1910                China formally annexed the Paracel and Pratas Islands to Guangdong
                             province.
1921                       Canton authorities (i.e. the Guomindang government under Sun
                             Yat-Sen) issued a decree to annex the Paracels under the
                              management of the Hainan authorities.
1932                       China protests French sovereignty claims over the islands.

25 Jul 1933                Annexed to French Indochina (see Vietnam), part of Ba Ria 
                             province (not recognized by Republic of China).
1938                       Japan sent a force to occupy Woody Island (Ile Boisée).
Mar 1938                   French ship Marne erected many markers of sovereignty in the
                             archipelago.
 4 Jul 1938                The Government of French Indochina sends a force to officially
                             claim the Paracel Islands as part of Annam Protectorate.
13 Jul 1938 - Aug 1945     Japanese occupation.
31 Mar 1939                Japan declares Paracel Islands are part of Taiwan province.
23 Apr 1939                Japan declares sovereignty over the 
Paracel Islands.
Jul 1939                   France annexes the Paracels and incorporates them into Thua Thiên
                             province of Annam.
1941                       Annexed by Japan, part of Taiwan province.

18 Jan 1947                Claimed by Republic of China (Xisha Islands), part of Guangdong
                             province.
 7 Jul 1951                Claimed by South Vietnam.
 8 Sep 1951                Japan officially renounces sovereignty by Treaty of San Francisco,
                             and confirmed on 28 Apr 1952 by China-Japan Peace Treaty.
24 Mar 1953                China creates the 'Paracels, Spratlys, and Zhongsha Islands
                             Authority' established as a county-level administrative division
                             on Woody Island (named 4 Mar 1963 - 22 Oct 1981 Paracels,
                             Spratlys, and Zhongsha Islands Revolutionary Committee)
within
                             Guangdong (from 1984 Hainan)
.
22 Oct 1956                Formally annexed by South Vietnam, part of Phuoc Tuy province.

15 Jun 1956                North Vietnam declares that the Xisha and Nansha
                             (Spratly) Islands are historically Chinese territories.
13 Jul 1961                Placed under Quang Nam province by South Vietnam.
19 Jan 1974                Annexed by the People's Republic of China, part of Guangdong
                            
province (as Xisha Islands)(from 13 Apr 1988, Hainan province);
                             South Vietnamese
forces are expelled.
 2 Jul 1976                Claimed by Vietnam (Hoang Sa).  
21 Jun 2012                National Assembly of Vietnam passed a law demarcating Vietnamese
                             sea borders to include the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
24 Jul 2012               
China announced the establishment of the prefecture-level city of
                             Sansha covering the Paracel and Spratly Islands.
18 Apr 2020                China approved the establishment of a municipal district of Xisha,
                             in Sansha City, Hainan province covering Paracel Islands.

 

Territorial Disputes: Occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.



 
 
 
 
 
 
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Spratly Islands

Map of the Spratly Islands
-----------------------------------------
Map of competing claims
----------------------------------------
Map of occupations
Population: China (about 450 soldiers); Malaysia (70-90); the Philippines 
(about 100); and Vietnam (about 1,500);
Brunei is a claimant but has no outposts.
(no indigenous inhabitants)
note: there are scattered garrisons occupied
 by military personnel of several
claimant states.

....                       Ancient Vietnamese maps record Bai Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, as
                             claimed today by Vietnam referring to both Paracel and Spratly
                             Islands).

1211                       Island group is first shown on a Chinese map.

1405                       Visited by China (Nansha Qundao [Southern Islands]).
1530                       Sighted by Portuguese explorer Alvarez de Diegoz.
1606                       Claimed by Spain as part of the Philippines .
1791                       Visited by British Capt. Henry Spratly discovers Mischief Reef.
1710                       Chinese Qing (Ch'ing) dynasty claims two northern islands and
                             builds a temple on North East Cay.
1798                       British navy builds an iron observation tower on Itu Aba.
1802                       Claimed by Vietnam (Truong Sa [Long Islands]).
29 Mar 1843                British whaling Capt. Richard Spratly spotted what is now known as
                             Spratly Island and Ladd Reef.

1877                       Captain James George Meads, master of the ship "Modeste" reportedly
                             re-discovered the islands and claimed the archipelago "on behalf
                             of the world's downtrodden and persecuted." Captain Meads named
                             the island group the "Kingdom of Humanity" and the sea that
                             surrounded it, the "Humanity Sea." Meads' ancestors later claim
                             to have establish a kingdom on the islands.
1885                       China restates its claim to the Southern Islands.

1887                       Claimed by France as part of French Indochina (see Vietnam).
1893/97                    Britain declares a protectorate over the islands.
10 Dec 1898                Specifically excluded from Philippine territory by Treaty of Paris.

13 Apr 1930                France occupies Spratly Island, île de la Tempête.

1932                       China protests French sovereignty over the islands.
21 Dec 1933                Annexed by France to French Cochinchina (see Vietnam), merging
                             Spratly Island, Amboyna Cay, Itu Aba Island, Northeast Cay,
                             Southwest Cay, Loaita Island, Thitu Island and other dependent
                             islands with Ba Ria province
(not recognized by Republic of China).
1935                       Republic of China announced a sovereignty claim on the Spratly
                             Islands.
15 Jun 1938                Established as the administrative unit of Truong Sa within Thua

                             Thien province by the Governor-general of French Indo-China .
30 Mar 1939                Japan declares the Spratly Islands a protectorate.
Apr 1939                   Japan occupies Spratly Island, named Nishitori jima.
 5 May 1939                Divided into 2 agencies- Croissant and dependencies and Amphirite

                             and dependencies- by Governor-general of French Indo-China.
12 Dec 1939 - Aug 1945     Occupied by Japan.
1941                       Annexed by Japan, renamed Shinnan Shoto (New Southern Islands), as

                             part of Taiwan province; Japan builds submarine base on Itu Aba.
Jul 1946                   Made part of Guangdong province. Spratly Island named Nanwei Island.
Nov/Dec 1946               Nationalist Republic of China forces establish a garrison on Itu Aba.
 7 Jul 1951                Claimed by South Vietnam.

 8 Sep 1951                Japan officially renounces sovereignty by Treaty of San Francisco
                             and confirmed on 28 Apr 1952 by China-Japan Peace Treaty.

15 May 1956                Claimed by Philippine citizen Tomás Cloma (b. 1904 - d. 1996) as
                             the new state
of Kalayaan (Freedom Land).
15 Jun 1956                North Vietnam declares that the Nasha and Xisha (Paracel) 
                             Islands are historically Chinese territories.
22 Oct 1956                Formally annexed by South Vietnam, part of Phuoc Tuy province.
 8 Jun 1956                Taiwan takes Itu Aba (Taiping) island from Philippines.
13 Jul 1961                Placed under Quang Nam province by South Vietnam.
1969 - 1971                U.S. radar station on Spratly Island.
10 Jul 1971                Claimed by the Philippines (from Apr 1972 incorporated into Palawan
                             province).
29 Apr 1975               'Liberated' from Saigon regime by Provisional Republic of South
                             Vietnam.
 1 Jul 1976                Claimed by Vietnam (Truong Sa), part of Khanh Hoa province.
1978                       China occupies six atolls, taking them from Vietnam, part of 
                             Guangdong province (from 13 Apr 1988, Hainan province).
11 Jun 1978                Philippines officially annexes the islands.
21 Dec 1979                Malaysia occupies Swallow Reef (Terumbu Layang); Malaysia publishes
                             a map of its continental shelf that encompasses 12 Spratly
                             Island features as part of Sabah state.
1983                       Malaysia claims Malaysia occupied Swallow Reef (Layang Layang),
                             and Amboyna Cay as part of Sabah state.
1984                       Brunei establishes an exclusive fishing zone that encompasses 
                             Louisa Reef.
25 Feb 1992                Officially declared part of China by "Law on the Territorial Sea
                             and the Contiguous Zone."
Feb 1995                   China occupies Mischief Reef, Chinese fishing crews later expelled
                             by Philippine forces on 20-28 Mar 1995.
 4 Nov 2002                Claimants sign the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in 
                             the South China Sea."
21 Jun 2012                National Assembly of Vietnam passed a law demarcating Vietnamese
                             sea borders to include the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

24 Jul 2012               
China announced the establishment of the prefecture-level city of
                             Hainan named Sansha covering the Paracel and Spratly Islands .
Jan 2013                   Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against
                             China's claim on the territories within the "nine-dash line" that
                             includes Spratly Islands, which it said is "unlawful" under the
                             United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
12 Jul 2016                Tribunal of Permanent Court of Arbitration agreed unanimously with
                             the Philippines. They concluded in the award that there was no
                             evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control
                             over the waters or resources, hence there was "no legal basis
                             for China to claim historic rights" over the nine-dash line.
18 Apr 2020                China approved the establishment of the municipal district of
                              Nansha, in Sansha City, Hainan province covering Spratly Islands.


Territorial Disputes:
All of the Spratly Islands are claimed by China (as Nansha Qundao), Taiwan, and Vietnam (as Quan dao Truong Sa); parts of them are claimed by Brunei, Malaysia (as Kepulauan Spratly) and the Philippines (as Kapuluan ng Kalayaan); despite no public territorial claim to Louisa Reef, Brunei implicitly lays claim by including it within the natural prolongation of its continental shelf and basis for a seabed median with Vietnam; claimants in Nov 2002 signed the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," which has eased tensions, but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct"; in Mar 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands. China currently occupies 7 areas (Cuarteron, Fiery Cross, Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, Mischief, and Subi); Taiwan occupies one (Itu Aba); and Vietnam occupies 21 areas (Alison, Amboyan, Barque Canada, Central London, Cornwallis South, East London, Da Gri-san, Da Hi Gen, Great Discovery, Ladd, Landsdowne, Pearson, Petley, Sand, Sin Cowe, South Reef, South West Cay, Spratly, Tennent, and West London); parts of them are claimed by Malaysia (which occupies 3- Ardasier, Mariveles and Swallow Reefs); and the Philippines (which occupies 8 areas- Loaita, Nanshan, West York, Lamkian Cay, Thitu, North East Cay, Flat, and Commodore Reef).






© Ben Cahoon