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The Paracel Islands, also known as Xisha
Xisha
in Chinese and Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese, is a group of islands, reefs, banks and other maritime features in the South China
China
Sea. It is controlled (and occupied) by the People's Republic of China, and also claimed by Taiwan
Taiwan
(Republic of China) and Vietnam. The archipelago includes about 130 small coral islands and reefs, most grouped into the northeast Amphitrite Group
Amphitrite Group
or the western Crescent Group. They are distributed over a maritime area of around 15,000 square kilometres (5,800 sq mi), with a land area of approximately 7.75 square kilometres (2.99 sq mi). The archipelago is approximately equidistant from the coastlines of China (PRC) and Vietnam; and approximately about one-third of the way from central Vietnam
Vietnam
to the northern Philippines.[4] It is the home of Dragon Hole, the deepest underwater sinkhole in the world.[5][6] The French colonial government of Vietnam
Vietnam
set up a weather station on Pattle Island
Island
in the Crescent Group
Crescent Group
in the 1930s.[4] Forces of the Republic of China
China
(RoC) landed on Woody Island
Island
in the Amphitrite Group in November 1946 but abandoned it in May 1950. Meanwhile, French and Vietnamese forces landed on Pattle Island
Island
in the Crescent Group
Crescent Group
in January 1947. By 1955 South Vietnam
Vietnam
had taken possession of the Crescent Group. This situation changed with the Battle of the Paracel Islands in January 1974 whence the PRC expelled the South Vietnamese from the Paracel Islands. South Vietnam's claim to the islands was inherited by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Vietnam
which has ruled all of Vietnam
Vietnam
since 1976.[citation needed] In July 2012, China
China
(PRC) declared a city named Sansha, under Hainan Province, as administering the area.[citation needed] Turtles and seabirds are native to the islands, which have a hot and humid climate, abundant rainfall and frequent typhoons. The archipelago is surrounded by productive fishing grounds and a seabed with potential, but as yet unexplored, oil and gas reserves. In February 2017, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported 20 outposts of the PRC built on reclaimed land in the Paracels, three of which have small harbours capable of berthing naval and commercials ships.[7]

Contents

1 Geography

1.1 Amphitrite group 1.2 Crescent group 1.3 Other features

1.3.1 Southeast 1.3.2 Eastern sub-group 1.3.3 Northeast 1.3.4 (ENE: Ampitrite group) 1.3.5 Northwest 1.3.6 (West: Crescent group) 1.3.7 Inner southwest 1.3.8 Outer southwest 1.3.9 Central 1.3.10 ESE

1.4 List of entities 1.5 Satellite images

2 Etymology

2.1 Xisha
Xisha
and other Chinese names 2.2 Hoàng Sa 2.3 Pracel and Paracel 2.4 East India
India
Company

3 Infrastructure and natural resources

3.1 Infrastructure 3.2 Fresh water 3.3 Electricity 3.4 Communication 3.5 Transport 3.6 Ecology and Tourism

4 Territorial disputes and their historical background

4.1 UNCLOS EEZ 4.2 Military engagement

5 Historical perspectives

5.1 China

5.1.1 618–1279 5.1.2 1279–1368 5.1.3 1368–1912 5.1.4 1912–1950s

5.2 Vietnam

5.2.1 15th–17th centuries 5.2.2 1700–1799 5.2.3 1800–1899

6 20th-century events 7 21st-century events and Land Reclamation 8 In popular culture 9 United States FIPS country code 10 See also 11 Notes 12 References

12.1 Citations 12.2 Sources

13 Further reading 14 External links

Geography[edit]

Geographic coordinates: 16°40′N 112°20′E / 16.667°N 112.333°E / 16.667; 112.333[2] Coastline: 518 km Climate: tropical Elevation extremes:

lowest point: South China Sea
South China Sea
0 m highest point: unnamed location on Rocky Island
Island
14 m

Natural resources: fish, coral reefs, possible reserves of oil and gas of unknown size Natural hazards: typhoons

Amphitrite group[edit] The Amphitrite group was named after the French frigate Amphitrite, which observed the islands while carrying a Jesuit mission to Canton in 1698–1700.[8][9][10] Lying in the northeast of the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
at 16°53′N 112°17′E / 16.883°N 112.283°E / 16.883; 112.283,[11] the group consists of low narrow islands with sand cays, enclosed shallow lagoons connected by reefs of rock, and is about 37 km (23 mi) northwest of Lincoln Island. The group approximately forms an ellipse with a north-south axis of 22 km (14 mi). The northern section of the group comprises West Sand, Tree Island
Island
and the Qilian Yu sub-group (The "Seven Sisters": North Island, Middle Island, South Island, North Sand, Middle Sand, South Sand and two small "sands".) The centre of the group consists of Woody Island
Island
and Rocky Island, approximately 5 km (3 mi) south of the southern tip of the eastern extremity of the northern section. The southwest corner of the group is occupied by the Iltis Bank. The largest island of the Paracels, Woody Island
Island
(which has an area of 213 ha (530 acres)),[citation needed] has over 1,000 residents[12] including fishermen and their families, military personnel and civilian administrators.[13] Crescent group[edit]

Aerial photo of the Crescent group

Lying about 70 km (43 mi) southwest of the Amphitrite group, at 16°30′N 111°42′E / 16.5°N 111.7°E / 16.5; 111.7, the Crescent group consists of islands and reefs that form a crescent-like structure from west to east, enclosing a deep central lagoon. The group measures 31 by 15 km (19 by 9 mi) east-west and north-south. All of the islands in the group support vegetation except on their small cays. The islands are named after former senior figures in the British East India
India
Company. Three were members of the EIC's 'Select Committee' in Canton: James Drummond, Thomas Pattle and John William Roberts. Jonathan Duncan was Governor in Council of Bombay and William Taylor Money was Superintendent of the Bombay Marine. The Chinese name for Money Island
Island
is simply the translation of the word 'money - Jin Yin Dao. Money Island
Island
lies at the southwest extremity of the group, and has some small cays on the southern side. Antelope Reef, submerged at high tide and containing a central lagoon, lies 2.4 km (1.5 mi) east of Money Island. Northeast of this are Robert Island
Island
(also named Round Island) and Pattle Island, separated from each other by a 3.5 km (2.2 mi) wide deep channel. A weather station was built on Pattle Island
Island
(by the French) in 1932, and a lighthouse and radio station in 1937. Northeast of this is Quanfu Dao ("All Wealth Island"). Observation Bank, also named Silver Islet, and the Lesser Silver Islet, are the northernmost of the group and contain a small cay. Just south of them are Yagong Dao
Yagong Dao
(He Duck) and Xianshe Yu (Salty Hut). At the eastern side of the group lies a 12 km (7 mi) long boomerang shaped reef with Stone Islet at its north end and Drummond Island
Island
at its south end. The Duncan Islands (16°27′N 111°43′E / 16.450°N 111.717°E / 16.450; 111.717[14]), consisting of Duncan Island
Island
and Palm Island, lie approximately 3 km (2 mi) west of Drummond Island
Island
and about 8 km (5 mi) east of Antelope Reef. Kuangzai Shazhou (Little Basket) lies about halfway between Palm Island
Island
and Antelope Reef. Other features[edit] Taking 16°40′N 112°20′E / 16.667°N 112.333°E / 16.667; 112.333 as the centre of the Paracel Islands, then the Amphitrite Group
Amphitrite Group
is ENE, and the Crescent Group
Crescent Group
is West. Southeast[edit]

Bombay Reef: This elongated reef is situated at the southeastern corner of the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
(16°00′N 112°30′E / 16°N 112.5°E / 16; 112.5) and lies approximately 90 km (56 mi) southeast of the Crescent group. With most parts submerged, the reef measures approximately 18 by 5 km (11 by 3 mi) (E-W by N-S). Bombay Reef
Reef
encloses a deep lagoon with rocks on its edge.

Eastern sub-group[edit]

Bremen Bank: Located 24 km (15 mi) north of Bombay Reef (16°18′N 112°30′E / 16.3°N 112.5°E / 16.3; 112.5), is the southwestern-most feature of this subgroup. This submerged shallow bank measures approximately 23 km (14 mi) in length from northeast to southwest. The shallowest area reaches a depth of about 12 metres (39 ft) and is located in the southwestern part of the bank. Jehangire Bank: East of the Bremen Bank at 16°18′N 112°42′E / 16.3°N 112.7°E / 16.3; 112.7 Neptuna Bank: North of the Bremen Bank at 16°30′N 112°30′E / 16.5°N 112.5°E / 16.5; 112.5 Pyramid Rock: NE of the Neptuna Bank at 16°36′N 112°36′E / 16.6°N 112.6°E / 16.6; 112.6 Lincoln Island: Surrounded by a coral reef, located 37 km (23 mi) southeast from the Amphitrite Group
Amphitrite Group
at 16°42′N 112°42′E / 16.7°N 112.7°E / 16.7; 112.7, the island is covered with brushes and fairly high trees, including coconut palm trees. The depth increases sharply on the northern and eastern sides of the island but the southern and south western regions are shallow. An observation post on the western side was found by officers of the German government surveys in 1883. In 1948, Great Britain requested France for permission to use the feature for military exercises.[citation needed]

Northeast[edit]

Dido Bank: Separate from, and NE of, the Eastern sub-group at 16°49′N 112°53′E / 16.817°N 112.883°E / 16.817; 112.883[15]

(ENE: Ampitrite group)[edit] 16°53′N 112°17′E / 16.883°N 112.283°E / 16.883; 112.283[11] Northwest[edit]

North Reef: Situated approximately 56 km (35 mi) north from the Crescent group and about 70 km (43 mi) west-northwest from the Amphitrite group at 17°06′N 111°30′E / 17.1°N 111.5°E / 17.1; 111.5,[16] the reef is the most northwesterly feature of the Paracel Islands. Most parts of the reef are submerged. There are rugged rocks are around the edge that are barely above water. There is a passage into the lagoon on the southwestern side of the reef.

(West: Crescent group)[edit] Inner southwest[edit]

Discovery Reef: Measuring approximately 27 km (17 mi) in length from east to west, and 7 km (4 mi) from north to south, the reef is located about 18 km (11 mi) south of the Crescent Group
Crescent Group
at 16°15′N 111°42′E / 16.25°N 111.7°E / 16.25; 111.7. Completely submerged, the elongated ring structure is the largest single reef in the Paracel Islands. The reef has two large, deep openings into the lagoon on its southern side. In the ocean nearby is Dragon Hole
Dragon Hole
the deepest known sinkhole in the world.[5][6] Passu Keah: This small reef encloses a shallow lagoon and is located about 12 km (7 mi) south of the eastern side of Discovery Reef
Reef
at 16°06′N 111°48′E / 16.1°N 111.8°E / 16.1; 111.8, approximately 37 miles (60 km) east-northeast from Triton Island. The sand cay measures 9 km (6 mi) in length.

Outer southwest[edit]

Triton Island: The sand cay supports vegetation and stands on a steep-sided coral reef measuring 1.5 km (1 mi) in length. This southwesternmost island of the Paracels is situated about 56 km (35 mi) from Discovery Reef
Reef
at 15°48′N 111°12′E / 15.8°N 111.2°E / 15.8; 111.2.

Central[edit]

Vuladdore Reef: Located slightly south of the centre of the group at 16°18′N 112°00′E / 16.3°N 112°E / 16.3; 112, this mostly submerged reef is orientated east-west and measures approximately 12 km (7 mi) by 3 km (2 mi). Some small spiral rocks are to be seen on the reef.

ESE[edit]

Herald Reef
Reef
at 15°48′N 112°18′E / 15.8°N 112.3°E / 15.8; 112.3.

List of entities[edit]

English name Chinese name Vietnamese name Coordinates Area (ha) Height (m)[17] Location / notes

Amphitrite group Xuande Qundao (宣德群島) Nhóm An Vĩnh 16°53′N 112°17′E / 16.883°N 112.283°E / 16.883; 112.283

ENE [11]

Woody Island Yongxing Dao (永興島) Đảo Phú Lâm 16°50′N 112°20′E / 16.833°N 112.333°E / 16.833; 112.333 210 ? Centre of Amphitrite group [18]

Rocky Island Shidao (石島) Đảo Đá 16°46′N 112°21′E / 16.767°N 112.350°E / 16.767; 112.350 8 14 Connected to (NE of) Woody Is.[18]

West Sand Xisha
Xisha
Zhou (西沙洲) Cồn cát Tây 16°58′N 112°10′E / 16.967°N 112.167°E / 16.967; 112.167 4 0 NW of Amphitrite group

Tree Island Zhaoshudao (趙述島) Đảo Cây 16°58′48″N 112°16′16″E / 16.98000°N 112.27111°E / 16.98000; 112.27111 22 0 N of Amphitrite group [11]

("Seven Sisters") Qilian Yu Subgroup(七連嶼)

NE of Amphitrite Group

North Island Bei Dao (北島) Đảo Bắc 16°58′N 112°18′E / 16.967°N 112.300°E / 16.967; 112.300 4 0 N1 of Seven Islets [19]

Middle Island Zhong Dao (中島) Đảo Trung 16°58′N 112°20′E / 16.967°N 112.333°E / 16.967; 112.333 13 0 N2 of Seven Islets

South Island Nan Dao (南島) Đảo Nam 16°57′N 112°18′E / 16.950°N 112.300°E / 16.950; 112.300 17 0 N3 of Seven Islets

North Sand Bei Shazhou (北沙洲) Cồn cát Bắc 16°57′N 112°19′E / 16.950°N 112.317°E / 16.950; 112.317 2 0 N4 of Seven Islets

Middle Sand Zhong Shazhou (中沙洲) Cồn cát Trung 16°57′N 112°20′E / 16.950°N 112.333°E / 16.950; 112.333 5 0 N5 of Seven Islets

South Sand Nan Shazhou (南沙洲) Cồn cát Nam 16°56′N 112°20′E / 16.933°N 112.333°E / 16.933; 112.333 6 0 N6 of Seven Islets [19]

(New West Sand) Xixin Shazhou (西新沙洲) - 16°51′N 112°19′E / 16.850°N 112.317°E / 16.850; 112.317 0.2 0 N7a of Seven Islets (7W)

(Sth S Sand) Dongxin Shazhou (东新沙洲) - 16°51′N 112°21′E / 16.850°N 112.350°E / 16.850; 112.350 0.4 0 N7b of Seven Islets (7E); South of South Sand

Iltis Bank Yin Shuo Tan (銀铄滩) Bãi Bình Sơn 16°46′N 112°13′E / 16.767°N 112.217°E / 16.767; 112.217

-10 SW of Woody Island
Island
[18]

Crescent group Yongle Qundao (永樂群島) Nhóm Lưỡi Liềm 16°30′N 111°40′E / 16.500°N 111.667°E / 16.500; 111.667

Money Island Jinyin Dao (金銀島) Đảo Quang Ảnh 16°26′52″N 111°30′30″E / 16.44778°N 111.50833°E / 16.44778; 111.50833 36 6 W end of Crescent group [20]

Antelope Reef Lingyang Jiao (羚羊礁) Đá Hải Sâm 16°27′N 111°35′E / 16.450°N 111.583°E / 16.450; 111.583

0 W Crescent Group, S of Robert Is.[20]

Robert Island (Round Island) Ganquan Dao (甘泉島) Đảo Hữu Nhật 16°30′20″N 111°35′07″E / 16.50556°N 111.58528°E / 16.50556; 111.58528 30 8 W of Crescent group; Has a well

Pattle Island Shanhu Dao (珊瑚島) Đảo Hoàng Sa 16°32′02″N 111°36′25″E / 16.53389°N 111.60694°E / 16.53389; 111.60694 31 9 N of Robert Island
Island
[21] Has a well

(All Wealth) Quanfu Dao (全富島) Đảo Ốc Hoa 16°35′N 111°40′E / 16.583°N 111.667°E / 16.583; 111.667 2 0 NE of Pattle, SW of Observation Bank

Observation Bank (Silver Islet) Yin Yu (銀嶼) Bãi Xà Cừ 16°40′N 111°40′E / 16.667°N 111.667°E / 16.667; 111.667 1 0 NE of Crescent group

(Lesser Silver Islet) Yinyu Zi (銀嶼仔) – 16°41′N 111°39′E / 16.683°N 111.650°E / 16.683; 111.650 0.2 0 SE of Silver Islet

(He Duck) Yagong Dao
Yagong Dao
(鴨公島) Đảo Ba Ba 16°39′N 111°38′E / 16.650°N 111.633°E / 16.650; 111.633 1 0 SW of Observation Bank

(Salty Hut) Xianshe Yu (咸舍嶼) (Đá Trà Tây?) 16°37′N 111°42′E / 16.617°N 111.700°E / 16.617; 111.700

0 SW of Observation Bank, W of Stone Islet

(Stone Islet) Shi Yu (石嶼) (Đảo Lưỡi Liềm?) 16°37′N 111°45′E / 16.617°N 111.750°E / 16.617; 111.750 0.2 0 E of Crescent group

Drummond Island Jinqing Dao (晉卿島) Đảo Duy Mộng 16°27′47″N 111°44′30″E / 16.46306°N 111.74167°E / 16.46306; 111.74167 21 3 E of Crescent group

Duncan Island Chenhang Dao (琛航島) Đảo Quang Hòa 16°27′04″N 111°42′40″E / 16.45111°N 111.71111°E / 16.45111; 111.71111 48 ? S of Crescent group[14]

Palm Island Guangjin Dao (廣金島) Đảo Quang Hòa Tây 16°27′N 111°42′E / 16.450°N 111.700°E / 16.450; 111.700 6 ? S of Crescent group[14]

(Little Basket) Kuangzai Shazhou (筐仔沙洲) - 16°25′N 111°35′E / 16.417°N 111.583°E / 16.417; 111.583 1 0 E of Antelope Reef

Other features

Triton Island Zhongjian Dao (中建岛) Đảo Tri Tôn 15°47′N 111°12′E / 15.783°N 111.200°E / 15.783; 111.200 120 3 Outer SW [22]

Discovery Reef Huaguang Jiao (華光礁) Đá Lồi 16°14′N 111°40′E / 16.233°N 111.667°E / 16.233; 111.667

-4 Inner SW [22]

Passu Keah Panshi Yu (盤石嶼) Đảo Bạch Quy 16°03′24″N 111°45′42″E / 16.05667°N 111.76167°E / 16.05667; 111.76167 40 0 Inner SW, S of Discovery Reef
Reef
[22]

Herald Bank Songtao Tan (嵩燾灘) Bãi Ốc Tai Voi 15°50′N 112°15′E / 15.833°N 112.250°E / 15.833; 112.250

? ESE

Bombay Reef Langhua Jiao (浪花礁) Đá Bông Bay 16°02′N 112°31′E / 16.033°N 112.517°E / 16.033; 112.517

0 SE [23]

Vuladdore Reef Yuduo Jiao (玉琢礁) Đá Chim Én 16°20′N 112°00′E / 16.333°N 112.000°E / 16.333; 112.000

0 Central

Bremen Bank Binmei Tan (濱湄灘) Bãi Châu Nhai 16°22′N 112°40′E / 16.367°N 112.667°E / 16.367; 112.667

-11 Eastern sub-group

Jehangire Bank Zhanhan Tan (湛涵灘) Bãi Quảng Nghĩa 16°20′N 112°30′E / 16.333°N 112.500°E / 16.333; 112.500

-12 Eastern sub-group

Neptuna Bank Beibian Lang (北邊廊) Bãi Thuỷ Tề 16°31′N 112°31′E / 16.517°N 112.517°E / 16.517; 112.517

? Eastern sub-group

Pyramid Rock Gaojian Shi (高尖石) Hòn Tháp 16°35′N 112°39′E / 16.583°N 112.650°E / 16.583; 112.650 4 5 Eastern sub-group [23]

Lincoln Island Dong Dao (東島) Đảo Linh Côn 16°40′N 112°44′E / 16.667°N 112.733°E / 16.667; 112.733 160 5 Eastern sub-group [15] "Water can be found on the island"

Dido Bank Xidu Tan (西渡灘) Bãi Gò Nổi 16°49′N 112°53′E / 16.817°N 112.883°E / 16.817; 112.883

-23 NE [15]

North Reef Bei Jiao (北礁) Đá Bắc 17°06′N 111°30′E / 17.100°N 111.500°E / 17.100; 111.500

0 NW [16]

Satellite images[edit]

Money Island

Pattle Island

Robert Island

Antelope Reef

Bombay Reef

Bremen Bank

Discovery Reef

Iltis Bank

Lincoln Island

North Reef

Passu Keah Reef

Triton Island

Etymology[edit] Xisha
Xisha
and other Chinese names[edit]

Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
as shown in Zheng He
Zheng He
Voyage Map (suggested by some to be the islands to the left at the bottom).[24]

The Chinese name Xisha
Xisha
(西沙), literally "western sands" or "shoals", is a name adopted in the 20th century to distinguish it from the "eastern sands" (the Dongsha or Pratas), the "southern sands" (the Nansha or Spratlys), and the "central sands" (the Zhongsha or Macclesfield Bank). Prior to that, there had been no consistent designation of these islands in early Chinese sources, with names such as Changsha, Shitang, Shichuang and others being used for Paracel and Spratly inconsistently.[25] In the Song Dynasty work Zhu fan zhi
Zhu fan zhi
by Zhao Rugua, the names Qianli Changsha (千里長沙, lit.  "Thousand mile-Long Sands") and Wanli Shichuang (萬里石床 lit. "Ten-thousand mile-Rock Bed") were given, interpreted by some to refer to Paracel and Spratly respectively, but opinions differed.[26] The Yuan dynasty
Yuan dynasty
work Daoyi Zhilüe by Wang Dayuan considers that Shitang (石塘) to be the same as Wanli Shitang (萬里石塘, lit. "Ten-thousand mile-Rock Embankment"), which starts from Chaozhou
Chaozhou
and extends to Borneo, west to Côn Sơn Island off Vietnam
Vietnam
and down as far as Java.[27] The History of Yuan uses the terms Qizhouyang (七洲洋, "The Ocean of Seven Islands") and Wanli Shitang, which are taken to mean Paracel and Spratly respectively.[27][28] In the Mao Kun map
Mao Kun map
from the Zheng He's voyage of the early 15th century, groups of islands were named as Shitang (石塘), Wansheng Shitangyu (萬生石塘嶼), and Shixing Shitang (石星石塘), with Shitang (sometimes including Wansheng Shitangyu) being taken by some to mean Paracel.[29][30] Another Ming text, Haiyu (On the Sea), uses Wanli Shitang to refer to Paracel and Wanli Changsha for Spratly.[30] During the Qing dynasty, a set of maps refer to Paracel as Qizhouyang (Shitang became Spratly, and Changsha became Zhongsha), while a book Hai Lu (Illustrations of the Sea) refers to Paracel as Changsha and Spratly as Shitang. A sea chart prepared in the Daoguang era, Yiban Lu (Particular Illustrations) by Zheng Guangzu, uses Xisha
Xisha
to refer to Paracel.[31] Xisha
Xisha
became the standard name used in China
China
in the 20th century, and was used in 20th century maps published by the Republic of China, for example in 1935,[32] and the 1947 11-dash line map which claimed Paracel and Spratly as its territories.[33] Hoàng Sa[edit] The Vietnamese call the islands Hoang Sa, (黃沙 or Yellow Sands), and this name is found in historic Vietnamese documents dating back to the 15th century.[34] In the modern language system it is written as Hoàng Sa or Cát Vàng. They all have the same meaning — the Yellow Sands or the Yellow Sandbank. Before the early 19th century, the present-day Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
were treated as features of Hoàng Sa.[35][36] It was not until the reign of Emperor Minh Mạng (1820–1841) that the Spratlys
Spratlys
were distinctly delineated and officially named Vạn Lý Trường Sa
Trường Sa
(萬里長沙), the Ten-thousand League-long Sandbank.[37][38] Chinese researcher Li Jinming, however, claims that the original "Hoang Sa" in historic Vietnamese documents is along the coast of the Vietnamese shore, and not the modern Paracel or Spratly Islands.[39][40][41] Pracel and Paracel[edit] Main article: Placer (geography)

18th century European map showing the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
as part of Cochinchina
Cochinchina
(Vietnam)

The name 'Paracel' is found in the first Portuguese maps of the region. The Portuguese, whose vessels frequented the South China
China
Sea as early as at the beginning of the 16th century, were the first to refer to these islands as 'Ilhas do Pracel' in the 16th century. Regarding the likely origin of the term Paracel, the word is a variant of the more common form pracel or parcel, from the Spanish: placer,[42] which was used by the Portuguese and Spanish navigators to designate shallow sandy seas or submerged banks, such as Placer de los Roques.[43]

Pracel is a moderately elevated chain of islets, sandbanks, and reefs. These features are continuously distributed and stretched over a noticeable distance of tens or hundreds of kilometers in length. Pracel may not be a suitable place for human residents, but its irregular depth creates an ideal environment inhabited by fish. Pracel often forms a natural bulwark as an outer line of defense for a coast or a land.[44]

The Portuguese were later followed by the Dutch, the English, the Spanish, and the French in the waters of the island group. On the "Map of the coast of Tonquin and Cochinchina", made in 1747 by Pierre d'Hondt, the dangerous band of rugged rocks was labeled "Le Paracel", a French phonetic notation. Because of their location on an important seaborne route the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
drew much attention from navigators and hydrographers in the Age of Exploration. Disputes in the area since the Second World War
Second World War
have again drawn attention to the islands. On the "Map of Europe, Africa and Asia" published in 1598 by Cornelis Claesz, an unnamed band of rocks and sandbanks are shown near the present-day location of the Paracel and Spratly Islands. About two decades later, the names Pracel and Costa de Pracel (Coast of Pracel) appeared on the Chart of Asia and eight city maps published in 1617 by Willem Jansz Blaeu, a Dutch map maker. The coast belonged to the Kingdom of Cauchi China.[44][45] East India
India
Company[edit] The islands were first scientifically surveyed by Daniel Ross of the British East India Company
East India Company
in 1808.[46] The names of Duncan, Drummond, Money, Pattle and Roberts islands were all chosen in honour of senior figures in the East India
India
Company. Infrastructure and natural resources[edit]

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Infrastructure[edit] The PRC is investing millions in infrastructure and development to support its territorial claims over the archipelago, and as a result there has been, and continues to be, a lot of construction activity. In recent years Woody Island
Island
has acquired an upgraded airport, an upgraded sea port, and a city hall. A primary school for children of construction workers and troops stationed there is planned.[47] Fresh water[edit] There is limited supply of fresh water on the islands. In 2012, it was reported that China
China
(PRC) planned to build a solar-energy-powered desalination plant on the islands.[48] Electricity[edit] Both wind and solar powered facilities exist to supply electricity on the islands.[citation needed] Communication[edit] There is a post office, hospital, bank and hostel on Woody Island.[citation needed] The Chinese postal zip code of the island is 572000, and the telephone area code is +86 (898). Transport[edit] There is an airport on Woody Island
Island
with a 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) long runway, which can handle take-offs and landings of Boeing-737s or planes of similar size. Flight services operate on the Haikou
Haikou
Xisha
Xisha
route. There are three main roads on Woody Island as well as an 800 metres (2,600 ft) long cement causeway that connects Woody Island
Island
and Rocky Island. Extensive port facilities have been constructed on Duncan Island.

Harbour developments between the Duncan Islands (December 2012)

Ecology and Tourism[edit] Paracel Islands' geographical and ecological traits are often likened as "China’s Maldives", however, controversial conflicts between environment conservation and human activities including military operations, developments, and tourism on Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
have become public concerns in recent years.[49] Local ecosystem include endangered fish such as whale sharks, oceanic birds, marine mammals (at least historically) such as blue whales, fin whales, and Chinese white dolphins, and marine reptile species such as critically endangered green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, and Leatherback sea turtles,[50] however, direct damaging on ecosystem by military group and tourists have been documented .[51] Governmental actions to cease illegal tourism are ongoing.[52] The islands have been open for tourists since 1997.[citation needed] Chinese tourists can take a 20-hour ferry to the Islands, paying up to US$2,000 for a 5-day cruise, and are placed on a long waitlist before being accepted.[53] The BBC article states that "Chinese tourism has strong political implications, as the Chinese tourists are being used as 'foot soldiers of China' by Beijing to further China's territorial claims there". The video also states " Vietnam
Vietnam
is considered unlikely to send military vessels to stop them".[53] There are two museums on Woody Island; a Naval Museum and a Maritime Museum. In April 2012, the Vice-Mayor and officials from the Haikou Municipal Government made several announcements about developing new docking facilities and hotels within the Crescent Group
Crescent Group
- on Duncan and Drummond Islands specifically.[54] Promotion of the naturally unspoilt reef system was cited as the driver for new tourism potential with other such reefs, such as the Great Barrier Reef
Reef
in Australia, now placed under threat of extinction due to human activities.[55] However, according to The China
China
Post, this was denied by a PRC Government official in April 2012, due to sensitivities surrounding the islands.[56] Territorial disputes and their historical background[edit] Main article: Territorial disputes in the South China
China
Sea China
China
first asserted sovereignty in the modern sense to the South China
China
Sea’s islands when it formally objected to France’s efforts to incorporate them into French Indochina
Indochina
during the 1884–1885 Sino-French war. After the war, France recognized the Paracel and Spratly islands as Chinese territories, in exchange for Chinese recognition of Vietnam
Vietnam
as a French territory.[citation needed] Chinese maps since then have consistently shown China’s claims, first as a solid and then as a dotted line.[57] Between 1881 and 1883 the German navy surveyed the islands continuously for three months each year without seeking the permission of either France or China. No protest was issued by either government and the German government published the results of the survey in 1885.[58] In 1932, France nonetheless formally claimed both the Paracel and Spratly Islands. China
China
and Japan both protested. In 1933, France seized the Paracels and Spratlys, announced their annexation, formally included them in French Indochina, and built a couple of weather stations on them, but did not disturb the numerous Chinese fishermen it found there. In 1941, the Japanese Empire made the Paracel and Spratly islands part of Taiwan, then under its rule. After the communists gained control of China
China
in 1949, they occupied Woody Island, the main island of the Amphitrite group and the only island that was occupied at the time. Pattle Island
Island
in the Crescent group, on the other hand, was taken by French Indochina
Indochina
and then controlled by South Vietnam
Vietnam
following independence in 1956. Tensions over the islands have continued to rise unceasingly since then.[59] UNCLOS EEZ[edit] The Paracel islands are claimed by both China
China
and Vietnam
Vietnam
and the majority of those islands lie within 200 NM of China's and Vietnam's geographic baseline.[60] Military engagement[edit] Main article: Battle of the Paracel Islands

Letter from South Vietnam's General Staff of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, dated 02-18-74, concerning the Battle of the Paracel Islands

In 1974, the political and diplomatic dispute over the islands became an armed conflict between China
China
and South Vietnam. On January 16, South Vietnamese naval officers and an American observer reported to Saigon
Saigon
some suspected military activities of the Chinese navy on the Drummond and Duncan islands. After receiving the report, the government of South Vietnam
Vietnam
decided to counter the Chinese forces, to defend the South Vietnamese-controlled section (the western half of the Paracels) from Chinese occupation,[61] and sent a unit of frigates to the area. On January 19, there were sea and land battles between the Chinese and Vietnamese forces with casualties on both sides. At the end, the Chinese fleet defeated the naval force of South Vietnam. With the ongoing civil war with the Viet Cong
Viet Cong
embroiling South Vietnam's attention and the absence of the USA's support, no military attempt was made to re-engage the PRC over the islands. After the military engagement and the subsequent victory, the PRC gained the entire archipelago and has taken control of Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
ever since. It was a significant turning point for the PRC but the sovereignty dispute on the islands remains unresolved with Vietnam. Historical perspectives[edit] China[edit] 618–1279[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: 武經總要·前集·卷二十一·廣南東路

There are some Chinese cultural relics in the Paracel islands dating from the Tang and Song eras,[62][note 1] and there is some evidence of Chinese habitation on the islands during these periods.[63] According to the Wujing Zongyao, a book published in the Northern Song
Northern Song
dynasty in 1044, the Song government then included the Islands in the patrol areas of the Navy of the Court.[64] 1279–1368[edit] In 1279, the Yuan dynasty
Yuan dynasty
emperor sent the high-level official and astronomer, Guo Shoujing, to the South China Sea
South China Sea
to survey and measure the islands and the surrounding sea area. Guo's base of survey was located in the Paracel Islands. His activities were recorded in the Yuan Shi, or History of Yuan. According to the Yuan Shi, the South China
China
Sea islands were within the boundary of the Yuan dynasty. Maps published in the Yuan era invariably included the Changsha (the Paracels) and the Shitang (the Spratlys) within the domain of Yuan.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: 元史·卷一百六十二·列傳第四十九·史弼

1368–1912[edit] Relevant local annals and other historic materials of the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing (1644–1912) dynasties continued to make reference to the South China Sea
South China Sea
islands as China's territory.[citation needed] The Qiongzhou Prefecture (the highest administrative authority in Hainan), exercised jurisdiction over the Paracel and Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the 19th century, Europeans found that Chinese fishermen from Hainan
Hainan
annually sojourned on the Paracel and Spratly islands for part of the year.[65][66] When the Spratlys
Spratlys
and Paracels were being surveyed by Germany in 1883, China
China
issued protests against them.[67][citation needed]. In 1910, the Qing government decided to invite Chinese merchants to contract for the administration of the development affairs of the South China
China
Sea islands, and demanded that officials shall provide protection and maintenance in order to highlight Chinese territory and protect its titles and interests.[68] 1912–1950s[edit] After the fall of the Qing dynasty, the new Government of Guangdong Province decided to place the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
under the jurisdiction of the Ya Xian County of Hainan
Hainan
Prefecture in 1911. The Southern Military Government in 1921 reaffirmed the 1911 decision. China continued to exercise authority over the South China Sea
South China Sea
islands by such means as granting licenses or contracts to private Chinese merchants for the development and exploitation of guano and other resources on those islands and protesting against foreign nations' claims, occupations, and other activities. On July 27, 1932, the Chinese Foreign Ministry
Chinese Foreign Ministry
instructed the Chinese Envoy to France to lodge a diplomatic protest to the French Foreign Ministry and to deny France's claims to the Paracel Islands. On November 30 of the same year, Zhu Zhaoshen, a high-level inspection official of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, issued public correspondence Number 66 to the French Consul
Consul
in Guangzhou, reiterating that "it is absolutely beyond doubt that the Xisha
Xisha
[Paracel] Islands fall within the boundary of China". Despite repeated Chinese protests, French troops, who had colonized Indochina
Indochina
in the 19th century, invaded and occupied the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
on July 3, 1938. This took place shortly after the breakout of the Second Sino-Japanese War, when the armed forces of China
China
and Japan
Japan
were busy elsewhere. Three days later, on July 6, the Japanese Foreign Ministry also issued a declaration in protest of the French occupation:[this quote needs a citation]

The statement of Great Britain and France made respectively in 1900 and 1921 already declared that the Xisha
Xisha
[Paracel] Islands were part of the Administrative Prefecture of Hainan
Hainan
Island. Therefore, the current claims made by An'nan or France to the Xisha
Xisha
Islands are totally unjustifiable.

During the Second World War, the Japanese expelled the French troops and took over the islands in spite of the 1938 declarations. The Spratlys
Spratlys
and the Paracels were conquered by Japan
Japan
in 1939. Japan administered the Spratlys
Spratlys
via Taiwan's jurisdiction and the Paracels via Hainan's jurisdiction.[69] The Paracels and Spratlys
Spratlys
were handed over to Republic of China
China
control after the 1945 surrender of Japan,[70]:124 since the Allied powers had assigned the Republic of China
China
to receive Japanese surrenders in that area.[71] At the end of the war (Asian-Pacific Region), Nationalist China
China
formally retook the Paracels, Spratlys
Spratlys
and other islands in the South China Sea
South China Sea
in October and November 1946. In the Geneva accord of 1954 Japan
Japan
formally renounced all of its claims to, inter alia, the South China
China
Sea islands which it had occupied during the World War II.[72] After WW2 ended, the Republic of China
China
was the "most active claimaint". The Republic of China
China
then garrisoned Woody island in the Paracels in 1946 and posted Chinese flags and markers on it; France tried, but failed, to make them leave Woody island.[73] The aim of the Republic of China was to block the French claims.[71][74] In December 1947, the Republic of China
China
drew up a map showing its nine-dotted line U shaped claim to the entire South China
China
Sea, including the Spratly and Paracel Islands as Chinese territory.[75] Vietnam[edit] 15th–17th centuries[edit]

The Route through Quảng Nam
Quảng Nam
map depicting Bãi Cát Vàng – the Golden Sandbank – off the coast of Quảng Nam, 1634.

Atlas produced by Belgian geographer Philippe Vandermaelen (1795-1869), published in 1827 in Belgium, showing Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
is a part of Vietnam

1460–1497, under the reign of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông, the Vietnamese began conducting commercial activities on and around Hoàng Sa, including harvesting abundant sea-products and conducting salvage operations on shipwrecks.[34] In 1634, under the Lê dynasty
Lê dynasty
(1527–1786), the ship Grootebroek of the Dutch East India Company
East India Company
sank in the vicinity of the Paracel archipelago. Using a small boat, captain Huijch Jansen and 12 sailors managed to reach Annam, territory of Lord Nguyễn Phước Nguyên (1613–1635), to seek rescue for other castaways remained on the islands.[76] 1680–1705, Lord Trịnh Căn instructed Đỗ Bá Công Đạo to publish Thiên Nam tứ chí lộ đồ (天南四至路圖), an encyclopedia consists of 4 series of maps that detail routes from Thăng Long, capital of Đại Việt, to other countries in the Southeast Asia. Part of this work was based on the Hồng Đức Atlas (Hồng Đức Bản Đồ) developed during the time of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông (1460–1497). This encyclopedia was considered one of the oldest and rarely preserved Vietnamese documents regarding the islands. The volume "Đường từ phủ Phụng Thiên đến Chiêm Thành" (The Route to Champa
Champa
from Phụng Thiên Province), remarkably described the archipelago with maps. For instance, a statement found in the volume read "In the middle of the sea, there is a long sandbank called Bãi Cát Vàng, which is approximately 400-league long and 20-league wide rising up above the sea." Bãi Cát Vàng means Hoàng Sa, Golden Sandbank.[34][77] In the 18th century, under instructions of the Nguyễn Lords, the salvage operations officially started with the formation of Hoàng Sa and Bắc Hải Companies. Their responsibility was to carry out the mission at Hoàng Sa (Golden Sandbank) and Vạn Lý Trường Sa (Ten-thousand-league Long Sandbank) respectively. This effort was continued thereafter with successive establishments of other naval task units in accordance with strategic policies toward the two archipelagos under the Nguyễn dynasty. Noticeably, a number of naval battles between the Dutch fleet and the Nguyễn Royal Navy occurred in 1643 and 1644. The Hoàng Sa naval task unit consisted of 70 men recruited from An Vĩnh and An Hải villages of Quảng Ngãi, while the majority of members of the Bắc Hải Company came from Bình Thuận province.[34][37][78][79]

1700–1799[edit]

In 1776, the Phủ Biên Tạp Lục (撫邊雜錄), the Miscellaneous Records on the Pacification of the Frontiers, published by Lê Quý Đôn, a philosopher, an encyclopaedist, and a Minister of Construction of the Lê dynasty
Lê dynasty
(1527–1786). These six volumes detail the Nguyễn dynasty's territories, including the exploitation of the Paracel and Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
from 1702 onwards.[34][78][79] 1777–1784, when traveling to Cochin China, Father Jean-Baptiste Grosier recorded his impression about maritime activities of the Vietnamese from Huế, Đà Nẵng, and Quảng Ngãi. The abbot Grosier wrote that the people from those ports were excellent and cleverest navigators in this Kingdom. One of their activities was making long distance sailing every year to the long chain of islands and rocks known as the Paracels to collect debris from shipwrecks.[80]

1800–1899[edit]

The Royal Ordinance issued by Emperor Minh Mạng, 1835.

Đại Nam Thống Nhất Toàn Đồ – The Unified Đại Nam Complete Map (1838) - distinctly delineated Hoàng Sa and Vạn Lý Trường Sa
Trường Sa
at the far right margin

1880 German map of Southeast Asia, locating the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
as part of "Annam" (Vietnam)

Decree no.174-NV from the presidency of Ngô Đình Diệm, Republic of Vietnam, redistricting the Paracels as part of Quảng Nam
Quảng Nam
Province effective 07-13-1961. Paracels were previously part of Thừa Thiên– Huế
Huế
Province since 03-30-1938, when redistricted by the government of French Indochina.

1802–1820, under the reign of Emperor Gia Long, the territory of his kingdom included Tonkin, Cochin China, part of Cambodia, and "certain islands off the coast including the well known Paracels which bear such an evil reputation as a source of danger to navigation in the China
China
Seas."[81] In 1807, the East India Company
East India Company
sent Captain Daniel Ross to Cochin China
China
to survey the Paracel Islands. Upon arriving to the kingdom, he presented a letter of introduction entrusted by the English company to the reigning king, who was believed to be Emperor Gia Long
Gia Long
at that time.[82] Subsequently, Captain Ross completed chartering the south coast of China
China
in 1807, the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
in 1808, part of the coast of Cochin China
Cochin China
in 1809, and the coast of Palawan
Palawan
in 1810. Most notably, in his surveys published in 1821 under the title "(South) China
China
Sea, Sheet I & II", the Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
was referred to as The Dangerous Ground, and was later renamed as Storm Island
Island
on the 1859 edition of the chart.[83] Separately, in another document, the "Correct Chart of the China
China
Sea", published by Herbert in 1758, the Paracel archipelago was described as a long group of islands and reefs extending from 13 to 17 degrees North, which approximately correspond to the geographic latitudes of the present-day Spratly and Paracel Islands, respectively.[83] It is quite clearly that the captain himself, and probably most navigators of his time, did not differentiate the two archipelagos, but instead had delineated the present-day Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
as part of the Paracels. Captain Daniel Ross was a well known hydrographer of the Navy of Government of English Bengal and founder of the Bombay Geographical Society.[84] In 1815, Emperor Gia Long
Gia Long
ordered Phạm Quang Anh's Hoàng Sa naval task unit to sail to the islands to make surveys and report on maritime routes and draw up maps.[79][85] In 1816, according to Jean-Baptiste Chaigneau, Emperor Gia Long officially claimed the sovereignty of the Paracel Islands, which would include the present-day Spratly archipelago. These two islands were later delineated distinctly under the reign of his successor, Emperor Minh Mạng. Chaigneau was one of the most respected advisors to Emperor Gia Long. He spent more than 30 years in Cochinchina
Cochinchina
and became the first French Consul
Consul
to this kingdom in 1821.[86] In 1821, the Lịch triều hiến chương loại chí (歷朝憲章類誌) published by Phan Huy Chú, a historian, an encyclopaedist, and an officer of the Ministry of Construction in the time of emperor Minh Mạng. This remarkable work was prepared in 10 years (1809–1819) and consisted of 10 volumes. One of them, the Địa Dư Chí volume, details territories of Dai Nam Kingdom. In 1838, he published the Đại Nam Thống Nhất Toàn Đồ, the Unified Đại Nam Complete Map, that distinctly delineated Vạn Lý Trường Sa
Trường Sa
(the Ten-thousand-league Long Sandbank) and Hoàng Sa (the Golden Sandbank).[37] In 1827, a world atlas produced by Belgian geographer Philippe Vandermaelen was published in Belgium. Vietnam
Vietnam
was described by four maps in this atlas. One of these maps has the title "Partie de la Cochinchine", in which Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
was included, indicating that it was part of Cochinchine (southern Vietnam
Vietnam
region). The map also featured geography, politics, minerals and statistics about the Empire of An Nam (former name of Vietnam). Moreover, the map titled "Partie de la Chine" in the atlas had identified Hainan
Hainan
Island
Island
as the southernmost point of China
China
at that time.[87] In 1833, Emperor Minh Mạng
Minh Mạng
ordered Ministry of Construction to build a temple, erect steles, and plant many trees on the islands for navigation purposes.[79][85] In 1834, Emperor Minh Mạng
Minh Mạng
ordered Trương Phúc Sĩ, a naval task unit commander, accompanied by 21 men sailing to the islands to survey and draw map of Hoàng Sa.[34] In 1835, Emperor Minh Mạng
Minh Mạng
issued a royal ordinance to order 24 troops to the Paracel Islands. The royal ordinance has been preserved by generations of Đặng family and was publicly disclosed in early 2009.[88] In 1835, the King ordered Phạm Văn Nguyên's naval task unit, accompanied by workers from Bình Định and Quãng Ngãi provinces, to build Hoàng Sa temple with a wind screen and erect steles on Bàn Than Thạch (Bàn Than Rock) of the present-day Woody Island. The mission was completed in 10 days. Notably, about 33m southwest from the erection, there was a little ancient temple where a stele engraved with the words "Vạn Lý Ba Bình" found. This inscription means Ten Thousand Leagues of Calming Waves. The date of the actual erection of the ancient temple remains unknown[79][85] In 1836, Emperor Minh Mạng
Minh Mạng
received a report from his Ministry of Construction that recommended a comprehensive survey of all the East Sea islands because of their "great strategic importance to our maritime borders."[79][89] The King ordered Phạm Hữu Nhật, a royal navy commander, to erect a wooden stele on the islands. The post was engraved with the following inscription: The 17th of the reign of Minh Mạng
Minh Mạng
by the royal ordinance commander of the navy Phạm Hữu Nhật came here to Hoàng Sa for reconnaissance to make topographical measurements and leave this stele as record thereof.[79][85] In 1838, Bishop Jean-Louis Taberd
Jean-Louis Taberd
published the "Latin-Annamese Dictionary". The dictionary contains the "An Nam Đại Quốc Họa Đồ" (The Great Annam Map). In the neighborhood of the present-day coordinate of the islands, words found on the map read "Paracel seu Cát Vàng" (Paracel or Cát Vàng). Cát Vàng means Hoàng Sa, Golden Sands or Golden Sandbank.[38] In 1842, Hai Lu Do Chi, a historical Chinese document was written in the 22nd year of the reign of the Daoguang Emperor
Daoguang Emperor
(1820–1850) of the Qing eynasty (1644 to 1912) of China. A statement found in this book read: Wang Li Shi Tang (万里石塘) is a sandbank rising above the sea. Several thousand leagues in length, it forms a rampart on the periphery of the Kingdom of Annam. Wang Li Shi Tang means Ten-thousand-league Long Sandbank.[79] In 1858, Napoleon III
Napoleon III
ordered French troops to attack Tourane, the present-day Đà Nẳng city. Subsequently, France launched more attacks and forced Cochin China
Cochin China
and some provinces in the South to become her colonies. The French Indochina
Indochina
was formed in 1887 and consisted of Tonkin, Annam, Cochin China, and Cambodia. The 1887 Chinese-Vietnamese Boundary convention signed between France and China
China
after the Sino-French War stated that China
China
was the owner of the Spratly and Paracel islands.[90] 1895–1896, German vessel Bellona and Japanese ship Imezi Maru sank at the islands. Chinese fishermen looted and resold them at Hainan. These countries protested but local Chinese authorities, the Governor of Liang Guang, denied any responsibilities on the ground that the Paracels were abandoned and belonged to neither country.[79]

20th-century events[edit]

In the 1910-20s, the French Ministry of Colonies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed that the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
were under Chinese sovereignty, and that France should not try to claim them, either on behalf of itself, or Annam. Therefore, France did not protest in 1921 when the government of Guangdong
Guangdong
province declared the Paracels to be under the administration of Hainan
Hainan
Island. 5 years later in 1926, France refused an application from a French company to exploit guano in the Paracels. It also refused a similar application from a Japanese company.[91] In 1932, France nonetheless formally claimed both the Paracel and Spratly Islands. China
China
and Japan
Japan
both protested. In 1933, France seized the Paracels and Spratlys, announced their annexation, formally included them in French Indochina, and built a couple of weather stations on them.[91] In 1938 Japan
Japan
took the islands from France, garrisoned them, and built a submarine base at Itu Aba
Itu Aba
(now Taiping / 太平) Island. In 1941, the Japanese Empire made the Paracel and Spratly islands part of Taiwan, then under its rule.[91] After World War II, Nationalist China
China
reaffirmed its sovereignty over the islands in the South China
China
Sea, and dispatched a patrol force to the islands, but this was challenged by the French.[citation needed] After the fall of the nationalist regime in China
China
in 1949, the PRC gained control of the eastern half of the Paracel islands. Several small clashes occurred between the French and the communist Chinese naval forces during this period, but eventually a de facto line of control was established with the PRC occupying Woody Island, while the remainder was held by Franco-Vietnamese forces. In 1951, at the international Treaty of San Francisco
Treaty of San Francisco
conference, Vietnam's representative claimed that both the Paracels and Spratlys are territories of Vietnam, and was met with no challenge from all nations at the event. However, neither the PRC nor the ROC participated in the conference. Separately, the ROC negotiated and signed its own treaty with Japan
Japan
regarding the islands on April 29, 1952.[91] In 1954, according to the Geneva Agreements, which were signed by a number of nations including the PRC,[92][93] Vietnam
Vietnam
was partitioned into two states, North Vietnam
Vietnam
and South Vietnam. The 17th parallel was used as the provisional military demarcation line, which was effectively extended into the territorial waters. The Paracel archipelago lies south of this line and belongs to South Vietnam accordingly. In 1956, after the French withdrawal from Vietnam, South Vietnam replaced French control of the islands. By February 1956, the South Vietnamese Navy was already stationed on Pattle Island
Island
by Ngô Đình Diệm.[91] Again, both the PRC and ROC politically and diplomatically condemned the decision and reaffirmed their claims to the islands. Although the South Vietnamese "inherited" the French claim to the entire Paracel Islands, the period was peaceful, and both sides held onto what was in their control without venturing into other's domain. At this time, maps and other official documents of the North Vietnam government asserted that the islands belonged to the PRC,[94][citation needed] mainly due to the fact that the PRC was the largest supporter of North Vietnam
Vietnam
during the Vietnam
Vietnam
War. On September 4, 1958, the government of the PRC proclaimed the breadth of its territorial sea to be twelve nautical miles (22 km) which applied to all its territory, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Ten days later, the prime minister of North Vietnam, Phạm Văn Đồng, in his letter to Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
stated that his government had recognized the declaration of the PRC government.[70][79][95][96] On January 19, 1974, the Battle of the Paracel Islands
Battle of the Paracel Islands
occurred between the PRC and South Vietnam. After the battle, the PRC took control over the entire Paracel Islands. In 1982, Vietnam
Vietnam
established Hoang Sa District
Hoang Sa District
in Quang Nam-Da Nang covering these islands.[97][98] In a statement released on 13 July 1999 by the foreign ministry of Taiwan, under President Lee Teng-hui
Lee Teng-hui
stated that "legally, historically, geographically, or in reality", all of the South China Sea and the islands were Taiwan's territory and under Taiwanese sovereignty.[99] The ROC's and the PRC's claims "mirror" each other.[100] Taiwan
Taiwan
and China
China
are largely strategically aligned on the islands issue, since they both claim exactly the same area, so Taiwan's claims are viewed[by whom?] as an extension of China's claims.[101] Taiwan
Taiwan
and China
China
both claim the entire island chains, while all the other claimaints only claim portions of them, and China has proposed cooperation with Taiwan
Taiwan
against all the other countries claiming the islands, such as Vietnam.[102] China
China
has urged Taiwan
Taiwan
to cooperate and offered Taiwan
Taiwan
a share in oil and gas resources while shutting out all the other rival claimants.[103] Board director Chiu Yi of Taiwan's state run oil company, CPC Corp, has named Vietnam
Vietnam
as the "greatest threat" to Taiwan.[102] The United States has regularly ignored Taiwan's claims in the South China Sea
South China Sea
and does not include Taiwan
Taiwan
in any talks on dispute resolution for the area.[104]

21st-century events and Land Reclamation[edit]

In July 2012 the National Assembly of Vietnam
Vietnam
passed a law demarcating Vietnamese sea borders to include the Paracel and Spratly Islands.[105][106]

In response to the Vietnamese move,[dubious – discuss][citation needed] Beijing announced the establishment of the prefecture-level city of Sansha
Sansha
covering the Paracel and Spratly Islands.[citation needed] The Philippines
Philippines
and Vietnam
Vietnam
promptly lodged diplomatic protests strongly opposing the establishment of the Sansha
Sansha
City
City
under Chinese jurisdiction.[107][108]

In April 2013, a representative from the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s National Boundary Commission gave a diplomatic note to a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi
Hanoi
demanding that China cancel its plan to bring tourists to the Paracel archipelago.[109] (Main article: Haiyang Shiyou 981 standoff)

According to reports, at the beginning of May 2014, Chinese and Vietnamese naval vessels collided near the islands as Hanoi
Hanoi
sought to prevent a Chinese oil rig from setting up in the area.[110] On May 26, a Vietnamese fishing boat sank near the oil rig, after colliding with a Chinese vessel. As both sides imputed the blame to each other, Vietnam
Vietnam
released a video footage in a week later, showing a Chinese vessel ramming into its ship before it sank; the Chinese said they were on the defensive while Vietnamese vessels were attacking the Chinese fishing boats.[111]

[when?] Taiwan
Taiwan
rejected all rival claims to the Paracel islands amidst the standoff, repeating its position that all of the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, Macclesfield Bank
Macclesfield Bank
and Pratas
Pratas
Islands belong to the Republic of China
China
along with "their surrounding waters and respective seabed and subsoil", and that Taiwan
Taiwan
views both Vietnam
Vietnam
and mainland China's claims as illegitimate. This statement was released by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which added – "There is no doubt that the Republic of China
China
has sovereignty over the archipelagos and waters."[112] In January 2016, photographs emerged that indicate that China
China
is reclaiming land and expanding military facilities in the Paracels, including at Duncan Island, North Island, and Tree Island. Commentators have likened this work to the initial stages of China's large-scale construction in the Spratly Islands.[113] On July 12, 2016, an arbitral tribunal under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration
Permanent Court of Arbitration
at The Hague
The Hague
backed the Philippines
Philippines
in an arbitration proceedings against China's claim on the territories within the "nine-dash line" which include the Paracel Islands, saying that it is unlawful under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) convention.[114][115] The tribunal argued that there was no evidence that China
China
had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources, hence there was "no legal basis for China
China
to claim historic rights" over the nine-dash line.[116][117] The ruling however was rejected by both China
China
and Taiwan.[118][119] In February 2017, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported that Chinese authorities had carried out land reclamation on 20 reefs, thus establishing 20 Chinese outposts so far. These include Duncan island and Drummond island which also have small helipads. Of these, three were capable of berthing small naval and commercial merchant ships.[7] Vietnam
Vietnam
had responded to this by expanding its already existing facilities on some of the Spratly islands occupied by it.[120]

In popular culture[edit]

The film Storm in the South China Sea
South China Sea
(南海风云)[121][122] was produced in China
China
in 1976, showing the Battle of the Paracel Islands in 1974. Battlefield 4, a 2013 first-person shooter video game, includes a map based on the Paracel Islands, titled "Paracel Storm".

United States FIPS country code[edit] The United States FIPS 10-4 country code for the Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
is PF. See also[edit]

International relations portal Islands portal

Great wall of sand Islands of Hainan

Notes[edit]

^ Hainan
Hainan
was a part of Guangdong
Guangdong
by then.

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Jones, Gareth Wyn (2002). "Provinces". In Boland-Crewe, Tara; Lea, David. The Territories of the People's Republic of China. London: Europa Publications. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-203-40311-2.  ^ a b Sailing Directions, Publication 161, Sector 1, pg. 5, section 1.7 ^ 民政部关于国务院批准设立地级三沙市的公告 [Ministry of Public Affairs Announcement: State Council Ratification on the Establishment of Shashi City] (in Chinese). 中华人民共和国民政部 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China). 21 June 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2014.  ^ a b "Paracel Islands". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 18 September 2014.  ^ a b " China
China
Exclusive: South China Sea
South China Sea
"blue hole" declared world's deepest". New China. news.xinhuanet.com. 23 July 2016.  ^ a b "Researchers just discovered the world's deepest underwater sinkhole in the South China
China
Sea". Washington Post. 26 July 2016.  ^ a b "The Paracels: Beijing's Other South China Sea
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China
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万生石塘 annotated as the Paracel Islands
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Sea] (in Chinese). Douban. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 

Sources[edit]

(1686) Do Ba Cong Dao (translated by Buu Cam), "Toan Tap Thien Nam Tu Chí Lo Do Thu ", Hong Duc Ban Do, Saigon, 1962. (1776) Le Quí Don (translated by Le Xuan Giao), "Phu Bien Tap Luc", Saigon, 1972. (1821) Phan Huy Chu (translated by Nguyen Tho Duc), "Lich Trieu Hien Chuong Loai Chí", Saigon, 1972. (1837) Jean Louis TABERD, "Note on the Geography of Cochinchina", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, Vol. VI, 9/1837. (1838) Jean Louis TABERD, "Additional Notice on the Geography of Cochinchina", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, Vol. VII, 4/1838, pp 317 – 324. (1849) GUTZLAFF, "Geography of the Cochinchinese Empire", Journal of The Geographical Society of London, vol the 19th, p93. (1999) Vietnamese Claims to the Truong Sa Archipelago. Todd C. Kelly, August 1999. (????) Dr. Phan Van Hoang's historical and geographical analysis on Vietnam
Vietnam
and China's claims on the Paracels – Vietnamese language link (2014) "Sector 1: The South China Sea
South China Sea
- Central Part" (PDF). Sailing Directions - Publication 161 - 15th Edition. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, U.S. Government. 15 November 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2017. Subsequent Publication Data Updates (PDUs) have corrected this publication to 24 December 2016 

Further reading[edit]

Menon, Rajan, "Worry about Asia, Not Europe", The National Interest, Sept–Oct 2012 Issue, September 11, 2012 Bateman, Sam; Emmers, Ralf, eds. (2008). Security and International Politics in the South China
China
Sea: Towards a co-operative management regime (illustrated ed.). Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0203885244.  Bezlova, Antoaneta (Jan 29, 2008). " China
China
moves to expand its reach". Asia Times. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Bouchat, Clarence J. (2014). The Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
and U.S. Interests and Approaches in the South China
China
Sea. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press. ISBN 9781584876236. Retrieved 25 July 2014.  The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. " Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Darshana Das, Gloria Lotha. Britannica.com. Retrieved 16 April 2014.  Kastner, Jens (Aug 10, 2012). " Taiwan
Taiwan
pours cement on maritime dispute". Asia Times. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Kivimäki, Timo, ed. (2002). War Or Peace in the South China
China
Sea?. Contributor: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (illustrated ed.). NIAS Press. ISBN 8791114012. ISSN 0904-597X.  Lee, Peter (Jul 29, 2010). "US goes fishing for trouble". Asia Times. p. 2. Retrieved 14 May 2014.  Lin, Cheng-yi (Feb 22, 2008). "Buffer benefits in Spratly initiative". Asia Times. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 14 May 2014.  Morley, James W.; Nishihara, Masashi, eds. (1997). Vietnam
Vietnam
Joins the World. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 076563306X.  Pak, Hŭi-gwŏn (2000). The Law of the Sea and Northeast Asia: A Challenge for Cooperation. Volume 35 of Publications on Ocean Development, V. 35 (illustrated ed.). Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 9041114076.  Severino, Rodolfo (2011). Where in the World is the Philippines?: Debating Its National Territory (illustrated ed.). Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9814311715.  Sisci, Francesco (Jun 29, 2010). "US toe-dipping muddies South China Sea". Asia Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014.  STRATFOR's Global Intelligence Update (July 14, 1999). " Taiwan
Taiwan
sticks to its guns, to U.S. chagrin". Asia Times. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Womack, Brantly (Feb 14, 2013). "Rethinking the US-China-Taiwan triangle". Asia Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014.  Wortzel, Larry M.; Higham, Robin D. S. (1999). Dictionary of Contemporary Chinese Military History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 0313293376.  Editorial (May 13, 2014). "Timing of flareups in South China Sea
South China Sea
is no coincidence". Want China
China
Times. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paracel Islands.

CIA World Factbook for Paracel Islands Territorial claims in the Spratly and Paracel Islands Wikimedia Atlas of Paracel Islands

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Quảng Ngãi
Province

Quảng Ngãi Ba Tơ Bình Sơn Đức Phổ Minh Long Mộ Đức Nghĩa Hành Sơn Hà Sơn Tây Sơn Tịnh Tây Trà Trà Bồng Tư Nghĩa Lý Sơn

Bình Định Province

Qui Nhơn An Lão An Nhơn Hoài Ân Hoài Nhơn Phù Cát Phù Mỹ Tuy Phước Tây Sơn Vân Canh Vĩnh Thạnh

Phú Yên Province

Tuy Hòa Đồng Xuân Sông Cầu Sơn Hòa Phú Hòa Tây Hòa Đông Hòa Sông Hinh

Khánh Hòa Province

Nha Trang Cam Ranh Khánh Sơn Khánh Vĩnh Cam Lâm Diên Khánh Ninh Hòa Trường Sa
Trường Sa
(Spratly Islands, disputed) Vạn Ninh

v t e

County-level divisions of Hainan
Hainan
Province

Haikou
Haikou
(capital)

Prefecture level

Prefecture-level cities

Haikou

Longhua District Meilan District Qiongshan District Xiuying District

Sanya

Jiyang District Tianya District Haitang District Yazhou District

Sansha

Sansha

Xisha
Xisha
District*

Yongxing Town (Yongxing Management Area) Qilianyu Management Area Yongle Archipelago
Archipelago
Management Area

Nansha District*

(directly governed — no township-level divisions)

Zhongsha District*

(unincorporated)

* Not a formal administrative subdivision

Danzhou

v t e

Danzhou

Towns

Nada Heqing Nanfeng Dacheng Yaxing Lanyang Guangcun Mutang Haitou Eman Sandou

Yangpu EDZ

Wangwu Baimajing Zhonghe Paipu Dongcheng Xingzhou

County level

County-level cities

Wuzhishan Qionghai Wenchang Wanning Dongfang

Counties

Ding'an Tunchang Chengmai Lingao

Autonomous counties

Baisha Changjiang Ledong Lingshui Baoting Qiongzhong

Township-level divisions of Hainan Politics of Hainan

v t e

South China
China
Sea

Pratas
Pratas
Islands

Pratas
Pratas
Island

Paracel Islands

Amphitrite Group

Rocky Island Tree Island West Sand Woody Island Qilian Yu

Crescent Group

Money Island Robert Island Yagong Island

Other features

Bombay Reef Triton Island

NorthEast SCS

Zhongsha Islands Macclesfield Bank

Walker Shoal

Scarborough Shoal

Spratly Islands

List of maritime features in the Spratly Islands Great Wall of Sand Royal Malaysian Navy Offshore Bases Vietnamese DK1 rigs List of airports in the Spratly Islands

Dangerous Ground

NW

North Danger Reef

Northeast Cay Southwest Cay

Thitu Reefs

Thitu Island Subi Reef

Loaita Bank

Lankiam Cay Loaita Island

Tizard Bank

Ban Than Reef Gaven Reefs Itu Aba Namyit Island Sand Cay

NNW

Irving Reef West York Island

WNW

Western Reef

NE

Flat Island Nanshan Island Reed Bank Third Thomas Shoal

SE

Commodore Reef First Thomas Shoal Mischief Reef Sabina Shoal Second Thomas Shoal

SW

Union Banks

Collins Reef Hughes Reef Johnson South Reef Sin Cowe Island

Ardasier Reef Cornwallis South Reef Dallas Reef Erica Reef Investigator Shoal Mariveles Reef

West

London Reefs

Central London Reef Cuarteron Reef East London Reef West London Reef

Bombay Castle Fiery Cross Reef Ladd Reef Spratly Island

East

Royal Captain Shoal Half Moon Shoal

South

Amboyna Cay Louisa Reef Swallow Reef

Southern SCS

James Shoal Luconia Shoals

Tudjuh Archipelago

Natuna Islands Anambas Islands Badas Islands Tambelan Archipelago

History

Territorial disputes History of the Spratly Islands Nine-Dash Line Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
dispute Philippines
Philippines
and the Spratly Islands Battle of the Paracel Islands
Battle of the Paracel Islands
(1974) Southwest Cay
Cay
incident (1975) Johnson South Reef
Reef
Skirmish (1988) Scarborough Shoal
Shoal
standoff (2012) Hai Yang Shi You 981 standoff
Hai Yang Shi You 981 standoff
(2014)

Transport

Ships

Coconut
Coconut
Princess

Airports

Pratas
Pratas
Is Paracel Islands
Paracel Islands
Airports

Woody Is

Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
Airports

Itu Aba Spratly Is Swallow R

.