History and law back China’s sovereignty
Beijing will resolutely uphold its legitimate maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China on Wednesday published a white paper titled “China Adheres to the Position of Settling Through Negotiation the Relevant Disputes Between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea”.
Following is the full text of the white paper:
Nanhai Zhudao are China’s Inherent Territory
China’s sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao is established in the course of history
China has always been resolute in upholding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea
China’s sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao is widely acknowledged in the international community Origin of the Relevant Disputes Between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea
The Philippines’ invasion and illegal occupation caused disputes with China over some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao
The Philippines’ illegal claim has no historical or legal basis
The development of the international law of the sea gave rise to the dispute between China and the Philippines over maritime delimitation
China and the Philippines Have Reached Consensus on Settling Their Relevant Disputes in the South China Sea
It is the consensus and commitment of China and the Philippines to settle through negotiation their relevant disputes in the South China Sea
It is the consensus of China and the Philippines to properly manage relevant disputes in the South China Sea
The Philippines Has Repeatedly Taken Moves that Complicate the Relevant Disputes
The Philippines attempts to entrench its illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao
The Philippines has increasingly intensified its infringement of China’s maritime rights and interests
The Philippines also has territorial pretensions on China’s Huangyan Dao
The Philippines’ unilateral initiation of arbitration is an act of bad faith China’s Policy on the South China Sea Issue
On the territorial issues concerning Nansha Qundao
On maritime delimitation in the South China Sea
On the ways and means of dispute settlement
On managing differences and engaging in practical maritime cooperation in the South China Sea
On freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea
On jointly upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea 4. As neighbors facing each other across the sea, China and the Philippines have closely engaged in exchanges, and the two peoples have enjoyed friendship over generations. There had been no territorial or maritime delimitation disputes between the two states until the 1970s when the Philippines started to invade and illegally occupy some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao, creating a territorial issue with China over these islands and reefs. In addition, with the development of the international law of the sea, a maritime delimitation dispute also arose between the two states regarding certain maritime areas of the South China Sea.
5. China and the Philippines have not yet had any negotiation designed to settle their relevant disputes in the South China Sea. However, the two countries did hold multiple rounds of consultations on the proper management of disputes at sea and reached consensus on resolving through negotiation and consultation the relevant disputes, which has been repeatedly reaffirmed in a number of bilateral documents. The two countries have also made solemn commitment to settling relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) that China and the ASEAN Member States jointly signed.
6. In January 2013, the then government of the Republic of the Philippines turned its back on the above-mentioned consensus and commitment, and unilaterally initiated the South China Sea arbitration. The Philippines deliberately mischaracterized and packaged the territorial issue which is not subject to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the maritime delimitation dispute which has been excluded from the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures by China’s 2006 optional exceptions declaration pursuant to Article 298 of UNCLOS. This act is a wanton abuse of the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures. In doing so, the Philippines attempts to deny China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.
7. This paper aims to clarify the facts and tell the truth behind the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, and to reaffirm China’s consistent position and policy on the South China Sea issue, in order to get to the root of the issue and set the record straight. 8. The Chinese people have since ancient times lived and engaged in production activities on Nanhai Zhudao and in relevant waters. China is the first to have discovered, named, and explored and exploited Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters, and the first to have continuously, peacefully and effectively exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over them, thus establishing sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao and the relevant rights and interests in the South China Sea.
9. As early as the 2nd century BCE in the Western Han Dynasty, the Chinese people sailed in the South China Sea and discovered Nanhai Zhudao in the long course of activities.
10. A lot of Chinese historical literatures chronicle the activities of the Chinese people in the South China Sea. These books include, among others, Yi Wu Zhi (An Account of Strange Things) published in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), Fu Nan Zhuan (An Account of Fu Nan) during the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280), Meng Liang Lu (Record of a Daydreamer) and Ling Wai Dai Da (Notes for the Land beyond the Passes) in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Dao Yi Zhi Lüe (A Brief Account of the Islands) in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Dong Xi Yang Kao (Studies on the Oceans East and West) and Shun Feng Xiang Song (Fair Winds for Escort) in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Zhi Nan Zheng Fa (Compass Directions) and Hai Guo Wen Jian Lu (Records of Things Seen and Heard about the Coastal Regions) in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). These books also record the geographical locations and geomorphologic characteristics of Nanhai Zhudao as well as hydrographical and meteorological conditions of the South China Sea. These books record vividly descriptive names the Chinese people gave to Nanhai Zhudao, such as “Zhanghaiqitou” (twisted atolls on the rising sea), “Shanhuzhou” (coral cays), “Jiuruluozhou” (nine isles of cowry), “Shitang” (rocky reefs), “Qianlishitang” (thousand-li rocky reefs), “Wanlishitang” (ten thousand-li rocky reefs), “Changsha” (long sand cays), “Qianlichangsha” (thousand-li sand cays), and “Wanlichangsha” (ten thousand-li sand cays).
11. The Chinese fishermen have developed a relatively fixed naming system for the various components of Nanhai Zhudao in the long process of exploration and exploitation of the South China Sea. Under this system, islands and shoals have become known as “Zhi”; reefs “Chan”, “Xian”, or “Sha”; atolls “Kuang”, “Quan” or “Tang”; and banks “Shapai”. Geng Lu Bu (Manual of Sea Routes), a kind of navigation guidebook for Chinese fishermen’s journeys between the coastal regions of China’s mainland and Nanhai Zhudao, came into being and circulation in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and has been handed down in various editions and versions of handwritten copies and is still in use even today. It shows that the Chinese people lived and carried out production activities on, and how they named Nanhai Zhudao. Geng Lu Bu records names for at least 70 islands, reefs, shoals and cays of Nansha Qundao. Some were named after compass directions in Chinese renditions, such as Chouwei (Zhubi Jiao) and Dongtou Yixin (Pengbo Ansha); some were named after local aquatic products in the surrounding waters such as Chigua Xian (Chigua Jiao, “chigua” means “red sea cucumber”) and Mogua Xian (Nanping Jiao, “mogua” means “black sea cucumber”); some were named after their shapes, such as Niaochuan (Xian’e Jiao, “niaochuan” means “bird string”) and Shuangdan (Xinyi Jiao, “shuangdan” means “shoulder poles”); some were named after physical objects, such as Guogai Zhi (Anbo Shazhou, “guogai” means “pot cover”) and Chenggou Zhi (Jinghong Dao, “chenggou” means “steelyard hook”); still some were named after waterways such as Liumen Sha (Liumen Jiao, “liumen” means “six doorways”).
12. Some of the names given by the Chinese people to Nanhai Zhudao were adopted by Western navigators and marked in some authoritative navigation guidebooks and charts published in the 19th and 20th centuries. For instance, Namyit (Hongxiu Dao), Sin Cowe (Jinghong Dao) and Subi (Zhubi Jiao) originate from “Nanyi”, “Chenggou” and “Chouwei” as pronounced in Hainan dialects.
13. Numerous historical documents and objects prove that the Chinese people have explored and exploited in a sustained way Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters. Starting from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Chinese fishermen sailed southward on the northeasterly monsoon to Nansha Qundao and relevant waters for fishery production activities and returned on the southwesterly monsoon to the mainland the following year. Some of them lived on the islands for years, going for fishing, digging wells for fresh water, cultivating land and farming, building huts and temples, and raising livestock. Chinese and foreign historical literature as well as archaeological finds show that there were crops, wells, huts, temples, tombs and tablet inscriptions left by Chinese fishermen on some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao.
14. Many foreign documents also recorded the fact that during a long period of time only Chinese lived and worked on Nansha Qundao.
15. The China Sea Directory published in 1868 by order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom, when referring to Zhenghe Qunjiao of Nansha Qundao, observed that “Hainan fishermen, who subsist by collecting trepang and tortoise-shell, were found upon most of these islands, some of whom remain for years amongst the reefs”, and that “[t]he fishermen upon Itu-Aba island [Taiping Dao] were more comfortably established than the others, and the water found in the well on that island was better than elsewhere.” The China Sea Directory published in 1906 and The China Sea Pilot in its 1912, 1923 and 1937 editions made in many parts explicit records of the Chinese fishermen living and working on Nansha Qundao.
16. The French magazine Le Monde Colonial Illustré published in September 1933 contains the following records: Only Chinese people (Hainan natives) lived on the nine islands of Nansha Qundao and there were no people from other countries. Seven were on Nanzi Dao (South West Cay), two of them were children. Five lived on Zhongye Dao (Thitu Island); four lived on Nanwei Dao (Spratly Island), one person more over that of 1930. There were worship stands, thatched cottages and wells left by the Chinese on Nanyao Dao (Loaita Island). No one was sighted on Taiping Dao (Itu Aba Island), but a tablet scripted with Chinese characters was found, which said that, in that magazine’s rendition, “Moi, Ti Mung, patron de jonque, suis venu ici à la pleine lune de mars pour vous porter des aliments. Je n’ai trouvé personne, je laisse le riz à l’abri des pierres et je pars.” Traces were also found of fishermen living on the other islands. This magazine also records that there are abundant vegetation, wells providing drinking water, coconut palms, banana trees, papaya trees, pineapples, green vegetables and potatoes as well as poultry on Taiping Dao, Zhongye Dao, Nanwei Dao and other islands, and that these islands are habitable.
17. Japanese literature Boufuu No Shima (Stormy Island) published in 1940 as well as The Asiatic Pilot, Vol. IV, published by the United States Hydrographic Office in 1925 also have accounts about Chinese fishermen who lived and worked on Nansha Qundao.
18. China is the first to have continuously exercised authority over Nanhai Zhudao and relevant maritime activities. In history, China has exercised jurisdiction in a continuous, peaceful and effective manner over Nanhai Zhudao and in relevant waters through measures such as establishment of administrative setups, naval patrols, resources development, astronomical observation and geographical survey.
19. For instance, in the Song Dynasty, China established a post of Jing Lüe An Fu Shi (Imperial Envoy for Management and Pacification) in the regions now known as Guangdong and Guangxi to govern the southern territory. It is mentioned in Zeng Gongliang’s Wujing Zongyao (Outline Record of Military Affairs) that, in order to strengthen defense in the South China Sea, China established naval units to conduct patrols therein. In the Qing Dynasty, Ming Yi’s Qiongzhou Fuzhi (Chronicle of Qiongzhou Prefecture), Zhong Yuandi’s Yazhou Zhi (Chronicle of Yazhou Prefecture) and others all listed “Shitang” and “Changsha” under the items of “maritime defense”.
20. Many of China’s local official records, such as Guangdong Tong Zhi (General Chronicle of Guangdong), Qiongzhou Fu Zhi (Chronicle of Qiongzhou Prefecture) and Wanzhou Zhi (Chronicle of Wanzhou), contain in the section on “territory” or “geography, mountains and waters” a statement that “Wanzhou covers ‘ Qianlichangsha’ and ‘ Wanlishitang’” or something similar.
21. The successive Chinese governments have marked Nanhai Zhudao as Chinese territory on official maps, such as the 1755 Tian Xia Zong Yu Tu (General Map of Geography of the All-under-heaven) of the Huang Qing Ge Zhi Sheng Fen Tu (Map of the Provinces Directly under the Imperial Qing Authority), the 1767 Da Qing Wan Nian Yi Tong Tian Xia Tu (Map of the Eternally Unified All-under-heaven of the Great Qing Empire), the 1810 Da Qing Wan Nian Yi Tong Di Li Quan Tu (Map of the Eternally Unified Great Qing Empire) and the 1817 Da Qing Yi Tong Tian Xia Quan Tu (Map of the Unified All-underheaven of the Great Qing Empire).
22. Historical facts show that the Chinese people have all along taken Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters as a ground for living and production, where they have engaged in exploration and exploitation activities in various forms. The successive Chinese governments have exercised jurisdiction over Nanhai Zhudao in a continuous, peaceful and effective manner. In the course of history, China has established sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao and relevant rights and interests in the South China Sea. The Chinese people have long been the master of Nanhai Zhudao. 23. China’s sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao had never been challenged before the 20th century. When France and Japan invaded and illegally occupied by force some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao in the 1930s and 1940s, the Chinese people rose to fight back strenuously and the Chinese government took a series of measures to defend China’s sovereignty over Nansha Qundao.
24. In 1933, France invaded some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao and declared “occupation” of them in an announcement published in Journal Officiel, creating the “Incident of the Nine Islets”. The French aggression triggered strong reactions and large scale protests from all walks of life across China. The Chinese fishermen living on Nansha Qundao also took on-site resistance against the French aggression. Chinese fishermen Fu Hongguang, Ke Jiayu, Zheng Landing and others cut down the posts flying French flags on Taiping Dao, Beizi Dao, Nanwei Dao, Zhongye Dao and others.
25. Shortly after this Incident happened, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs made clear through its spokesperson, referring to the relevant islands of Nansha Qundao, that “no other people but Chinese fishermen live on the islands and they are recognized internationally as Chinese territory”. The Chinese government made strong representations to the French government against its aggression. And in response to the French attempt to trick Chinese fishermen into hanging French flags, the government of Guangdong Province instructed that administrators of all counties should issue public notice forbidding all Chinese fishing vessels operating in Nansha Qundao and relevant waters from hanging foreign flags, and Chinese national flags were distributed to them to be hung on Chinese fishing vessels.
26. China’s Committee for the Examination for the Land and Sea Maps, which was composed of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of the Navy and other institutions, reviewed and approved the names of individual islands, reefs, banks and shoals of Nanhai Zhudao, compiled and published Zhong Guo Nan Hai Ge Dao Yu Tu (Map of the South China Sea Islands of China) in 1935.
27. Japan invaded and illegally occupied Nanhai Zhudao during its war of aggression against China. The Chinese people fought heroically against the Japanese aggression. With the advance of the World’s Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, China, the United States and the United Kingdom solemnly demanded in the Cairo Declaration in December 1943 that all the territories Japan had stolen from the Chinese shall be restored to China. In July 1945, China, the United States and the United Kingdom issued the Potsdam Proclamation. That Proclamation explicitly declares in Article 8: “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out.”
28. In August 1945, Japan announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation and its unconditional surrender. In November and December 1946, the Chinese government dispatched Colonel Lin Zun and other senior military and civil officials to Xisha Qundao and Nansha Qundao to resume exercise of authority over these Islands, with commemorative ceremonies held, sovereignty markers re-erected, and troops garrisoned. These officials arrived at these islands on four warships, namely Yongxing, Zhongjian, Taiping and Zhongye. Subsequently, the Chinese government renamed four islands of Xisha Qundao and Nansha Qundao after the names of those four warships.
29. In March 1947, the Chinese government established on Taiping Dao Nansha Qundao Office of Administration and placed it under the jurisdiction of Guangdong Province. China also set up a meteorological station and a radio station on Taiping Dao, which started broadcasting meteorological information in June of that year.
30. On the basis of a new round of geographical survey of Nanhai Zhudao, the Chinese government commissioned in 1947 the compilation of Nan Hai Zhu Dao Di Li Zhi Lüe (A Brief Account of the Geography of the South China Sea Islands), reviewed and approved Nan Hai Zhu Dao Xin Jiu Ming Cheng Dui Zhao Biao (Comparison Table on the Old and New Names of the South China Sea Islands), and drew Nan Hai Zhu Dao Wei Zhi Tu (Location Map of the South China Sea Islands) on which the dotted line is marked. In February 1948, the Chinese government officially published Zhong Hua Min Guo Xing Zheng Qu Yu Tu (Map of the Administrative