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Special Review on S. China Sea ep.1: China first to discover, name, develop islands


07-01-2016 13:14 BJT

Full coverage: The South China Sea Issue

As we look back into history, we see historical evidence showing China as the first country to discover, name, and develop the islands in the South China Sea and its surrounding waters. China has long declared its sovereignty over those islands.

Existing historical data shows that Chinese people began sailing on the South China Sea as early as the Qin and Han dynasty (221 BC-200 AD). According to historical records from the Eastern Han dynasty, the Chinese named the South China Sea as "Zhanghai Qitou". "Qitou" is in fact the ancient Chinese term for marine reef. "Zhanghai" is what the ancient Chinese called the South China Sea. During the Sui and Tang dynasty (581-907 AD), the Chinese conducted more frequent activities in the South China Sea. They had clearer picture about the islands and reefs across an extended area. Therefore, names such as “Qizhou Yang” (seven-state ocean), “Xiang Shi” (elephant rock), “Jiu Ruluo Shi” (nine shell stalactites), and “Jiaoshi Mountain” started to appear in literature. During the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD), the name "Shitang Changsha" was used to refer to the South China Sea, and it appeared frequently in documents. Hundreds of literature and maps from the Song (960-1279 AD), Yuan (1271-1368 AD), Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1636-1912 AD) dynasties using the term "Shitang Changsha". These provide clear evidence that the Chinese people were the first to discover and to name the South China Sea islands.

Geng Lu Bu, which has been handed down from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD) to the Qing dynasty (1636-1912 AD), is a map that took shape as Chinese fishermen developing and managing the South China Sea. There are dozens of versions of Geng Lu Bu among folk. Geng Lu Bu should be considered as important evidence proving the Chinese people's development and management of the South China Sea as it detailed the routes, name of islands and reefs and fishing resources when Chinese fishermen conducted their fishing activities around the four archipelagos of South China Sea and nearby waters. In fact, many names of the South China Sea islands, including names given by the western people, were translated from Geng Lu Bu.

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