VietNam Bridge – Although condemned by the world, China has seized Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, turning the territories of other countries into "disputed territory".
The HQ-4 in the Hoang Sa battle. File photo
In 1909 the Qing Dynasty began eyeing Vietnam’s Hoang Sa. In the Kuomintang period, China began quietly stationing on some islands of Hoang Sa. After the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the plot to occupy Hoang Sa and Truong Sa became the blatant act of invasion. In 1974 China attacked and occupied Hoang Sa and in 1988 China killed Vietnamese soldiers to seize the Gac Ma reef of Truong Sa Islands.
As a country signing the Geneva agreement 1954, China understands better than anyone else that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belong to Vietnam and that sovereignty is recognized worldwide and they were assigned to the South Vietnam government.
On June 1, 1956, the foreign Minister of the Republic of Vietnam Vu Van Mau reaffirmed the sovereignty of Vietnam over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. A few days later, the French Republic also confirmed that.
On August 22, 1956, the army of the Republic of Vietnam made landings on the major islands of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, where they placed the flag and built the sovereignty stele.
In October 1956, the Taiwanese Navy occupied Ba Binh Island (Itu Aba). Taking advantage of the opportunity, the People's Republic of China occupied Phu Lam (Woody) Island.
The complex historical circumstances at that time created enormous challenges for Vietnam's sovereignty over the two islands. The Cold War was entering a critical period and it somehow affected Vietnam’s exercise of sovereignty over the two islands. China fully took advantage of that moment to seize Hoang Sa.
The South Vietnamese government repeatedly asserted sovereignty over the islands, opposing the illegal occupation of China on Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. However, China was increasingly daring and neglected reason and international law to invade Hoang Sa.
In 1972 China and the United States signed the "Shanghai Joint Communiqué". On January 11, 1974, China announced that Vietnam’s annexation of Hoang Sa Islands to Phuoc Tuy Province on October 22, 1956 as "encroachment of Chinese territory" and asserted its claims over Vietnam’s Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
On January 12, 1974, the Government of South Vietnam rejected the absurd claims made by China.
On January 15, 1974, China deployed naval forces, including many warships disguised as fishing boats to approach Hoang Sa.
Before gunfire started at 10.25am in Hoang Sa, on January 16, 1974 the government of South Vietnam rejected China's ridiculous argument and showed historical and legal evidence that is recognized by the world for Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
After detecting the presence of the People's Republic of China army in Hoang Sa on the islands of Quang Anh (Money), Huu Nhat (Robert), the Republic of Vietnam army was enhanced with the destroyer Tran Khanh Du, cruiser Tran Binh Trong and corvette Nhat Tao. The strengthened forces of the Republic of Vietnam were ordered to land on the islands with Chinese flags. The clash occurred on the island of Quang Hoa (Duncan) and the other island.
The two sides began preparing for a fight; the warships were only 200m from each other. The fight took place at 10.25 am on January 19, 1974. A Chinese warship burned. The two Chinese warships numbered 281, 182 attacked corvette Nhat Tao and the vessel captain – Nguy Van Tha – was sacrificed.
After one hour of fighting, two Chinese warships sunk and two others were on fire. For the Republic of Vietnam, corvette Nhat Tao sunk and some other ships were damaged. A number of soldiers were captured and went missing.
The Republic of Vietnam asked for the Pentagon’s intervention but the US decided to stay out of the conflict. The Assistant to the Secretary of State, Arthur Hummel, told the Saigon government that the U.S. was not interested in the Hoang Sa dispute.
On January 20, 1974, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam issued a Statement of Objections against China’s act.
On January 26, 1974, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam declared the three-point stance on resolving the territorial dispute. On February 14, 1974, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam asserted that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa are part of the territory of Vietnam.
If the U.S. turned a blind eye to China’s invasion of Hoang Sa, the Soviet opposed China’s act. On January 27, 1974, newspaper Pravda (The Truth) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union published editorials condemning the acts of China and gave a warning a China’s expansion plot in the East East and Southeast Asia.
Some Asian countries spoke out against the behavior of the China’s use of force.
On March 30, 1974, the representative of the Republic of Vietnam confirmed Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa in the Far Eastern Economic Council meeting in Colombia. On February 14, 1975, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam government published the White Paper on the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
Despite this opposition, China has illegally occupied the entire Hoang Sa and further developed its infrastructure on the islands until now. The reunified Vietnam after 1975 again confirmed its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa.
According to some analysts, the Hoang Sa battle shows that China began to publicly use force in the time of difficulties of Vietnam to occupy Hoang Sa.
Researchers said that at that time China had entered the stage of using force to expand territory and territorial waters. Despite the world’s condemnation, China occupied Hoang Sa to turn the territories of other countries into "disputed territory".
To be continued…