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Special Review on S. China Sea ep.2: Experts on China's administration of islands


07-01-2016 17:32 BJT

Full coverage: The South China Sea Issue

China was the first country to exercise continuous administrative jurisdiction over the South China Sea islands. And China’s indisputable sovereignty over those islands has sufficient historical and legal basis. This is explained by experts in the second episode of our special series "China Review on South China Sea."

"When did the Chinese government begin its administration of the South China Sea Islands? According to historical materials, it was from the Tang and Song Dynasty (618-1279 AD) at the latest that the Chinese government had made the South China Sea Islands part of its territory and exercised administrative jurisdiction. In Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), China had included the South China Sea Islands into Sizhou Army administrative jurisdiction. In the subsequent Song (960-1279 AD), Yuan (1271-1368 AD), Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing Dynasty (1636-1912 AD), the South China Sea Islands which were called the “Shitang Changsha” were taken into the Wanzhou Administration under Qiongzhou Administration of the Guandong Province. This historical fact was clearly recorded in the official documents and maps. Besides the administrative jurisdiction, another important administrative way was to build navy. In the year 971, the Song dynasty, Sea Patrol Navy was first built, to patrol and guard the South China Sea Islands," said Li Guoqiang, Deputy Director of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"In 1883, the Qing Dynasty, a German research vessel arrived in the South China Sea area, but it had to leave the region because of the rejection of the Qing government. I think this is a very clear fact which showed that it was valid when the Chinese government refused the admittance of the foreign research vessels in the South China Sea for a period of time from the late Qing Dynasty to the Republic of China (1912-1949 AD), and the inhibition always worked. This obviously proved the right of administrative jurisdiction of the Chinese government in the South China Sea. It is the history; it is not the evidence made up by China," said Su Xiaohui, Deputy Director of Department for International and Strategic Studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

"Till the Ming and Qing dynasty, the South Sea Islands were equipped with military defense and navy, which had formed a system. For instance, the Beiwo Officer was set in Ming Dynasty and the Yazhouxie Navy Camp in Qing Dynasty (1636-1912 AD). These military organizations worked as the modern navy. Their patrol extended from the Paracel Islands to the Spratly Islands, in other words, the whole South China Sea area was under the patrol of Chinese Navy," said Li Guoqiang.
"After World War II, China restored the lost territory of the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands from the Japanese and resumed the exercise of sovereignty over the South China Sea islands based on Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration. That consists part of the post-war order. So whoever intends to deny China's sovereignty over the South China Sea islands, he is, in a sense denying the international order of the Second World War. So I think no matter in terms of historical or legal perspective, China is the only true owner of the Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands). And thus from another perspective, China’s indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands has sufficient historical and legal basis," said Wu Shicun, President of National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

"Since Oct.1 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded, the Chinese government has insisted on taking actions to exercise its sovereignty to guard the South China Sea. Chinese government made a statement about the territorial sea in 1958, regulated that the territory of the People’s Republic of China includes the four archipelagoes in the South China Sea. These legal documents reiterated repeatedly the China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.
Before 1970s, the Philippines had very clear regulations on its territory, and there was nothing involving the islands and reefs of the South China Sea. At that time on the maps of many countries in the world, the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands were part of China’s territory. So I believe that there’re a large amount of the historical records, evidence and legal basis to prove that the South China Sea Islands belong to China," said Ling Dequan, Research fellow with Xinhua News Agency Center for World Affairs Studies.

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