On June 21, 2014, the second day of the International Seminar on “Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos: Historical Truths”, participants attended the exhibition entitled “Paracel - Spratly Archipelagos: The Inseparable Part of Vietnam”, where they saw with their own eyes the legal and historical evidence showing Vietnam’s establishment and continuous and peaceful exercise of sovereignty over the two archipelagos.
The exhibition hosts a collection of documents in Han Nom language issued by Vietnamese feudal states from the 17th to early 20th century. The documents, including Châu bản triều Nguyễn (official documents bearing red seals of the Nguyen emperors) issued between the reigns of Emperor Minh Mang (1820-1841) and Emperor Bao Dai (1925-1945), and orders of Vietnamese feudal states on missions to exploit and administer the Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos, bear legal significance and are strong evidence of Vietnam’s establishment and continuous exercise of sovereignty over the two archipelagos. Furthermore, visitors at the exhibition may find ancient books on Vietnam’s sovereignty over the two archipelagos, including Toản tập Thiên Nam tứ chí lộ đồ thưby Đỗ Bá (a.k.a Công Đạo)in 1686; Phủ biên tạp lục compiled by Lê Quý Đôn in 1776; Lịch triều hiến chương loại chí by Phan Huy Chú in 1821; Hoàng Việt địa dư chí dated 1833; Đại Nam thực lục tiền biên (1844-1848); Đại Nam thực lục chính biên (1844-1848); Việt sử cương giám khảo lược (1876); Đại Nam nhất thống chí (1882); Khâm định Đại Nam hội điển sự lệ (1910); Quốc triều chính biên toát yếu (1910)…
The exhibition also features ancient Vietnamese, Chinese and Western maps, among them are the Hải ngoại ký sự (Record of Overseas Journeys) by a Chinese monk Thích Đại Sán in 1696 and An Nam đại quốc họa đồ (Map of Annam Empire) by the French Bishop Louis Taberd, which suggest that the two archipelagos belong to Vietnam and that the Chinese territory ends at Hainan Island and never include the two archipelagos. Another highlight is the World Atlas by Phillipe Vandemaelen published in 1827 in Belgium being put in display for the first time. The Atlas contains a detailed map describing the Paracel Archipelago as part of the Annam Empire.
Visitors also saw the records recently donated by Vietnamese people across the country showing the sovereignty of the country over the Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos. The records include the original birth certificate of Ms. Mai Kim Quy, who was born on Paracel Archipelago, issued in 1940 by the French administrative agency stationing on the Archipelago, the documents of the lighthouse erected by the French on the Paracel Archipelago in 1937, the chronology of the Indochina Meteorological Department 1940 published by the Indochina Governor-General Office in 1942. The chronology contains weather data collected from meteorological stations, including the No. 48859 on Phú Lâm (Woody) island, No. 48860 on Hoang Sa Island of the Paracel Archipelago, and No. 48919 on Ba Bình (a.k.a Itu Aba) Island of the Spratly Archipelago, until 30 December 1940. These records are of high legal and historical significance testifying to Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos during the French colony period.
Mr. Bui Van Tieng, President of the Da Nang Historical Science Association highlighted in his opening remarks that Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos are perpetually inseparable parts of the Vietnamese territory. He underscored that the maps, images, records and documents on display would enabled visitors to be fully aware of an irrefutable fact that Vietnamese States established and exercised sovereignty over the two archipelagos in accordance with relevant rules and principles of international law, and that Chinese territory never included the two archipelagos but rather ended at Hainan Island.
Professor Carl Thayer, an expert on Vietnam and Southeast Asia and Professor Erik Franckx from the Brussels Vrije University and member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration joined the organisers in cutting the ribbon during the inauguration.
The intensive discussions on 20 June and the Exhibition tour enabled scholars to obtain deeper understanding of Vietnam’s irrefutable sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos. Several scholars said that they would write articles or give interviews to disseminate the truths on disputes over the two archipelagos so that the international public might acquire an objective view on the disputes in the East Sea in general and particularly those related to the two archipelagos.
The Exhibition will end on 25 June./.