Future of Vietnam's East Sea





Exerpt: From page 13

Although China sounds highly assertive, its statements of entitlements in

the South China Sea region have been a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact

historically, Chinese attitudes toward the South China Sea were best reflected

in the statement by one author that “[u]ntil World War II, the islands in the

South China Sea were only worth their weight in guano.”36


Excerpt from pages 11 &12

Overall, Vietnamese claims are based on a

combination of historical data and the continental shelf principle. According to

Vietnamese court documents during the reign of King Le Thanh Tong (r. 1460–

97), the Vietnamese claimed sovereignty over the Spratly Islands. This claim

was well documented during the 17th century when many Vietnamese maps

incorporated parts of the Spratly archipelago into Vietnam. In 1884, the French

established a protectorate over Vietnam and asserted their colonial claim to the

Spratly and Paracel Island chains. Ironically, the current Vietnamese govern-

ment continues to use these historical claims as part of its justification for

sovereignty in the South China Sea.


Hanoi also argues that the extent of its continental shelf—in accordance

with the provisions of UNCLOS—entitles Vietnam to occupy the Spratly Islands.

Vietnam suggests that each littoral country be entitled to a full 200-nauticalmile

EEZ starting from the main coastline and that any high seas area beyond

that distance should be governed by the International Sea-Bed Authority.


However, in 1982 Vietnam used straight baselines originating from its coasts,

some of which were inconsistent with the provisions of UNCLOS. Under international

pressure Vietnam reassessed its baseline claims and is expected to

make a new map in the near future.





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