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Analyses and Commentaries

International law and sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly archipelagoes (Part 13)

South China Sea

Part 13: Setting the milestone in 1909: Too late!

In August 1907, the Japanese with their ambition occupied the uninhabited islands within Dongsha archipelago, near Guangdong. This posed a direct threat to the security of China. The incident resulted in the opposite turn in China’s attitude toward Hoàng Sa (Paracels), an archipelago that was seen as a springboard for possible use against China.

In late March 1909, the Guangdong authorities sent three officers to visit all the islands lying off the coast of this province to see if “these islands have been claimed by any foreign subject or not?” A description report was submitted upon their return in accordance with which the Paracel included 15 isles with seven of them lying to the west, and eight, to the east. The islands were rich in phosphates, and marine products were plentiful. There were traces of foreigners and the Chinese over the…

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