How China invaded Vietnam’s Paracels 70 years ago

China’s so-called 70th anniversary of recovering Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes held on Thursday last week was merely a façade concealing its forceful takeover of the Paracels 70 years ago

A military camp of the Republic of Vietnam on Hoang Sa (Pattle) Island, which belongs to the Paracel Islands, is seen in this file photo taken in 1959.

China’s so-called 70th anniversary of recovering Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes held on Thursday last week was merely a façade concealing its forceful takeover of the Paracels 70 years ago.

The issue was discussed at a conference in the central Vietnamese city of Hue on Monday, where experts assembled to reassert Hanoi’s immutable sovereignty over the Vietnamese archipelagoes.

International recognition

In 1938, the Japanese invaded the three islands of Phu Lam (Woody), Linh Con (Lincoln), and Huu Nhat (Robert) in the Paracels and renamed the archipelago Hirata Gunto, igniting the ‘Paracels crisis’ between Japan and France, Vietnam’s colonizer at the time.

In August 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied nations and all of its overseas territories, including the Vietnamese islands, were re-demarcated at a summit in San Francisco, the U.S., in 1951.

The summit ran from September 4 to 8 and was attended by leaders from 52 countries, including the State of Vietnam represented by Emperor Bao Dai. China did not attend the summit.

In front of international leaders, then-Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam Tran Van Huu confirmed Vietnam’s “long-standing sovereignty” over the two archipelagoes, facing no objection from any parties present at the summit.

“The fact that 92 percent of the United Nations member states at the time voiced no objection to Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spratlys is legally binding,” Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Nam Tien from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities stressed at Monday’s conference.

The outcome of the summit also invalidated Beijing’s claim only 20 days earlier that it had “inalienable sovereignty” over East Vietnam Sea islands, Tien said.

The stealthy Chinese invasion of 1956

In 1946, taking advantage of the Japanese troop disarmament, the Republic of China’s army, under Chiang Kai-shek, invaded a group of islands just east of the Paracels.

Ten years later, troops from the People’s Republic of China secretly invaded the islands while French colonizers were busy withdrawing from Indochina and parties in Vietnam were occupied with the Geneva Accords.

According to Professor Nguyen Dinh Dung from Phu Xuan University in Hue, China has since worked tirelessly to provoke and invade islands to the west of the Paracels.

Its attempts were met with stern opposition from the governments of the Republic of Vietnam, which in 1974 lost a historic battle for Paracel Islands and had the archipelago forcefully abducted by the Chinese.

“Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spratlys, as well as its other islands, is in accordance with international law, and is a genuine, peaceful, and continuous possession of the state,” reads the resolution from Monday’s conference.

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