First of all, China claims sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands based on the right of discovery and management.
China’s argument includes:
We will consider argument and historical title of China concerning the Paracel and Spratly islands.
- Fu Nan Zhuan (Account of Funan) by Kang Tai (period of the Three Kingdoms) discussing his ambassadorial mission in Fu Nan.
- Yi Wu Zhi (Exotic things) from the Yang Fu period of the Oriental Han (25-220) discussing exotic things (also of foreign countries).
- Wu Jing Zong Yao (General program of military affairs) by Zeng Gongliang and Ding Du, of the Song dynasty (960-1127), dealing with the military system and important matters relating to national defense.
- Ling Wai Dai Da (Information on what is beyond the passes) by Zhou Chufei, of the Song dynasty (1178), mainly addressing the SEA countries. In the passage about the ancient name of Vietnam) mention is made of the .
- Zhu Fan Zhi (Notes on foreign countries) by Zhao Juguo, the Song dynasty (1225), describing foreign countries. A passage mentions the Qianli Changsha, Wanli Shitang as landmarks to situate the Hainan Island, such as Champa, Zhenla.
- Dao Ji Zhi Lue (General glimpse of the islands) by Wang Dayuan, the Yuan dynasty (1349), describing the physical geography, climate, riches and customs of about 100 foreign countries.
- Dong Xi Yang Kao (Studies on the ocean of the East and the West) by Zhang Xie (1618) and Wu Beizhi (about the seven voyages of Zheng He 1405-1433 in the Southern seas and the Indian Ocean) by MaoYuanli(1628).
- Hai Guo Wen Jian Lu (Things heard and seen in overseas countries) Quing dynasty, by Zhen Lunchiung. on the way from Xiamen to Quang Nam (Vietnam).
- Hai Lu (Note on sea voyage) by Yang Bingnan, Qing dynasty (1820) discussing the 99 countries and regions of Europe and America. The drawing of hemisphere attached to the book contains Changsha, Qiangli Shitang in the SEA region.
- Hai Guo Tu Zhi (Notes on foreign countries and navigation) by Wei Yuan, Qing dynasty (1848).
- Ying Huan Zhi Lue (Brief geography of the globe) by Feng Wenzhang in the reign of Daoguang (1848). and not on that of China. Taking into account the mentioned books, there must be about 100 of them. The books in subsequent periods of the Song dynasty are more numerous than those of previous ones. Not one of the books directly speaks of the Xisha and the Nansha, and not one speaks of Chinese sovereignty on the Xisha and Nansha islands. A number of books speak of toponyms such as , , , which are today considered by Chinese researchers as the Xisha and the Nansha. For the most part, the mentioned books deal with concerning countries other than China. Some of them describe the activities of Chinese fishermen. Some others are written or related into books accounts by persons who have actually made sea travels such as Cinh Cha Zheng Lan, Ying Ya Zheng Lan, by Fei Cin and Ma Huan respectively who participated in the Zheng He expedition in the Southern sea, or Hai Lu,written by Yang Binhnan (period of the Qing) according to the statements of Xie Quinggao (1765-1821), an old Chinese sailor who worked aboard foreign ships and who was knowledgeable about maritime routes and the countries of SEA. Some others were written by ambassadors to SEA, such as Fu Nan Zhuan (the account of Funan by Kang Tai ambassador to Funan, the geography of Zhenla by Zhou Daguan, Ambassador to Zhenla, the Hai Guo Guang Ji (an account of a voyage by the Ambassador Wu Hui to Champa). The Sui Zhi (History of the Sui) relates the voyage of Ambassador Chang Jun across the Bien Dong (Eastern Sea). The other books are by people who did not make sea journeys but who reported the “things heard and seen” in the same way as Zhang Xie when he wrote his Dong Xi Yang Kao: by putting questions to people coming from afar whom he met on the wharves (sailors, travellers, etc.). The Chinese authors evidently studied all the documents more or less relating to the Xisha, but they had to make careful choices, retaining what was right and discarding what was erroneous. It is regrettable that they collected all the found writings without sorting them out, but rather deliberately making deductions or arrangements. For instance, it is written in the Fu Nan Zhuan: “In the Zhanghai there are coral shoals; under the shoals there are rocks on which corals grow.” But Han Zhenhua explains that these are the Xisha and Nansha archipelagoes. The Ji Wu Zhi simply writes: “The reefs of the Zhanghai are found in shallow waters where there are a lot of magnet stones; the large iron – banded junks of foreign countries cannot pass there.”According to Han, Zhanghai is the South China Sea “comprising the islands of the Southern sea” (The South China sea has an area of over 3,400,000 km2; what does the Zhanghai represent?; the totality of the South China Sea or only a part of that sea, and which part?), and the reefs are those of the islands of the Southern Sea. The Nan Yue Ji Wu Zhi (Strange things of the peoples of the South) of the first century writes: Chinese fishermen captured places, scaled tortoises; the Guang Zhou Ji writes: ancient men found corals while fishing at sea; but Pan Shiing deduces that the Chinese reclaimed and the first islands of the Southern Sea, though these two books speak of the sea in general, not specifying which one. The Dong Xi Yang Kao writes: Qi Zhou Yang is the maritime zone where the seven islands are found at 100 li (50 km) from Wenchang district. However, it is affirmed that the sea of the Xisha lies several hundreds of kilometers away from Wenchang. The Zhu Fan Zhi writes: “Hainan was the Yazhou and the Dan Eu of the Han period.” But Han Zhenghua affirms in an explanatory note that the name indicates the Hainan Island of today and the islands belonging to the islands of the Southern Sea (underlined by the author), in the clear intention of putting it among the Xisha and the Nansha. In the part reserved for Guangnan donglu (presently Guangdong, the Wu Jing Zong Yao contains a passage on the royal order of the Song to set up sea patrol posts and a passage about the route from Guangzhou to India, but the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made it into the one and only passage, in order to pretend that the Chinese navy of that time had carried out patrols in the sea of the Xisha. The Quan Zhou Fu Zhi says that General Wu Sheng himself conducted the patrol, starting from Qiongya and passing by Tonggu, Qizhouyang, Sigensha, making a tour of 3,000 li. According to these toponyms, it was actually a patrol around the island of Hainan (underlined by the author). But the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has affirmed that General Wu Sheng had made “patrols in the sea of the Xisha.” Regarding the names quoted by the books: Jiurulozhou, Wanli Shitang, Wanli Chengsha, Qianli Shitang, Qizhouyang, Qizhousan, the Chinese authors conclude that: whereas the The names Qizhouyang and Qizhousan are most often quoted in the itineraries from Southern China to Vietnam, Champa and further to the South. In the Hai Yu, Huang Zhung in the Ming dynasty (1536) writes: “Wanli Shitang is found East of the sea of Wu Zhu and Du Zhu” (Wu Zhu is an island situated to the East of the islands Xiang Chuan, Xia Chuan, district of Wan Ninh, Guang Dong. Du Zhu is an island situated to the South-east of the island of Hainan). “Wanli Changsha lies to the South-east of Wanli Shitang, i.e. the shoals of sand of the barbarous countries of the South-west”. According to the author, Wanli Shitang indicates here “the shoals of sand of the barbarous countries of the South-west.” Han Zhenhua, affirms that it is the Xisha and the Zhungsha, although, annotating the book Dao Ji Zhi Lue by Wang Dayua, he said that Wanli Shitang indicated all the four archipelagoes Dongsha, Xisha, Zhungsha, Nansha and, annotating the book Song Hui Yao, Song dynasty, he said that Wanli Shitang indicated the Zhungsha archipelago. Even Han Zhenhua does not know exactly what Wanli Shitang designates: Zhungsha, Xisha, or both, or even all four archipelagoes? Han is self-contradictory. The Zhi Nan Zheng Fa, at the end of the reign of Kang Xi, writes: “If one goes beyond Qizhou and in the direction of the East for seven geng, one will find Wanli Changsha… if one goes to the East, one will one day see the island Weila before the eyes. Going to the East, after seven geng, [one will arrive in] Wanli Shitang.” Presenting the books Shun Feng Siang Sung and Zhi Nan Zheng Fa in 1961, the China Publishing House (Peking) said: “Wanli Shitang: from the Vietnamese port of Xinzhou, one goes towards the islands Hiaobei for seven geng to the North or from the island Weila towards the East, one can also reach Wanli Shitang, i.e. in the North-east of present day Binh Dinh of Vietnam. Wanli Changsha: to the South-east of the island of Hainan, only a seven-geng [sail] South of the island Dazhou, is the Northern part of Xisha archipelago.” According to Pan Shiing, the Song had given the Nansha archipelago the name Shitang, Qianlishitang and Wanlishitang. In his turn, he is in contradiction to Han Zhenhua. Groenevelt, the translator of Shibi Zhuan (History of Sibi), the Mongolian general who commanded the expedition of the Yuan against Java in the XIIIth century, estimates that Wanlishitang designates rather the shoal Macclesfield (for Peking, it is the Zhungsha archipelago) which is even now submerged under more than 10m of water. Qianlishitang, Wanlishitang, anlichangsha… In fact, what do these toponyms represent? It seems that ) and It is clear that a scientific examination is necessary to correctly conclude the study of these toponyms. And where is Jiurulozhou? The Wu Jing Zong Yao indicates the itinerary from Tunmensan to India: “From Tunmensan, with an Eastern wind, going towards the South-west for seven days, one will arrive in Jiurulozhou and in three days more, one will reach Pulasan…” Tunmensan is to the North-west of Jiulong (Hong Kong). Thus, Jiurulozhou is on the route leading to Pulasan (that is to say the island of Cham of Vietnam) and from Tunmensan to Pulasan, it takes 10 days. In the Gu Jin Tu Shu Bian, Zhang Huang the Ming dynasty says that the route from Xiang San (Guangdong) to Champa, Siam passes by Qizhouyang, and it takes 10 days to reach the sea of Vietnam (Wailasan), i.e the island of Cham. In the Huang Hua Si Da Zhi, Jia Shen (730-805), the Tang dynasty, writes: “From Guangzhou by the maritime route to the South-east one reaches Tunmensan, sailing to the West li 200, one will reach Jiu Luoshi in two days and Xiang Shi in two days more, and Pulasan in three days more to the South-west.” That is to say, from Guangzhou to Pulasan takes nine days. And observing the traditional itinerary of the Chinese, designates the group of seven islands called Qizhou to the North-east of the island of Hainan, and designates the island Dazhou to the South-east of the same island. Jiurulozhou being three days from Pulasan must be a point between the island of Dazhou and the island of Cham of Vietnam (Pulasan), and on the maritime route along the coast of Hainan towards the South. If Xiang Shi designates the Xisha as Han Zhenhua annotated, it is impossible to make the journey from Tunmensan to Xisha four days by the means of that time. According to Jia Shen (the Tang), Zeng Gongliang, (the Song), Mat) Yuanji, Zhang Huang, La Rigeng (the Ming), Zhen Lunchiung (the Qing), the route along the coast towards the South, starting from Guangzhou or from Zhejiang, Fujian, is always the same:
In brief, even based on documents quoted by Chinese authors, the following remarks can be made:1. There are about ten books speaking of the maritime route from Guangzhou to the South of the South Sea, or to places named Wanlichangsha, Qianlishitang, etc. But, the cited books not relating to the Xisha and Nansha or the knowledge of the Chinese people about these archipelagoes, are 3-4 times more ample.