I. Dai Nam Nhat thong Toan do / Complete Map of Unified Great Viet Nam (1838)
This is the map of Viet Nam under the Nguyen dynasty made in 1838. On the map there were two names “Hoang Sa” (Paracels) and “Van Ly Truong Sa” (Spratlys) belonging to the territory of Viet Nam.
II. Dai Nam Thuc luc Chinh bien / A true record of Great Viet Nam (1848)
“Dai Nam Thuc luc Chinh bien” is a history book compiled by Quoc Su Quan (Office of National History) under the Nguyen dynasty. The part on Kings Gia Long, Minh Mang and Thieu Tri were written in 1848, recording the event when king Gia Long exercised sovereignty activities over the Hoang Sa Islands in 1816, the event when King Minh Mang built the temple, planted the stele, trees, conducted measurements and drew the map of these islands. The above-said events were written as follows:
In the year of Binh Ty, the dynastic title Gia Long the 15th (1816)….The king sent the naval force and the Hoang Sa boat team to Hoang Sa to explore the sea route.
In the year of Binh Than, the dynastic title Minh Mang the 17th (1836), the spring of January 1st….Bo Cong reports: the Border of our country’s sea area has Hoang Sa land which is very important and vulnerable. In the past a physical map was drawn, very large but not clear. Every year, people were sent to explore so as to learn the sea route. From this year on, when the end of January came, the naval force and the guards were to be sent on a boat to go to Quang Ngai in early February, asking Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh to lease 4 boats from the people to go to Hoang Sa island, to any island, any sandbank there; when the boats came, they started to measure the length and the width, the breadth and the height, the circuit of the island and the depth of the sea, the underground dumps, if any. And then they had to draw a map. They had to think about their departure date, which estuary they started, which direction they aimed to go to the island, then based on the route to estimate the length in miles. Then from the island to look towards the shore, aim straight to certain province, then change to stand squarely towards another province, to estimate the length from there to the shore. This must be carried out without delay and report it to the court”.
“The king having heard the report sent a naval force led by Pham Huu Nhat to go the island, bringing along 10 wooden boards so as to plant as marking board there (each board is 5m long, 50cm large, 10 cm thick inscribed with the words: Minh Mang the 17th, the year of Binh Than, commander Pham Huu Nhat of the naval force, ordered by the King to go to Hoang Sa to take care and make measurements for rememberance”.
III. Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi / History of Unification of Great Viet Nam from 1865 to 1910
“Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi” is the official geographical book of the Nguyen dynasty compiled by Quoc Su Quan (Office of National History established in 1820 by King Minh Mang) from 1865 to 1910. The part dealing with Quang Ngai province determined that the Hoang Sa archipelago belonged to Quang Ngai province and the exploitation of the Hoang Sa continued and the management was boosted under the Gia Long and Minh Mang Kings.
“In the East of Quang Ngai province there is the sand island (it means Hoang Sa) with sandy beaches adjacent to the sea, used as the moat; in the Southwest of the highlands there were solid long ramparts, the South connecting to Binh Đinh there was Ben Da Pass blocking, in the North adjacent to Quang Nam province there was Sa Tho rapids as a boundary….
…. In the early time of King Gia Long, a Hoang Sa team was set up in accordance with the old custom, in early time of King Minh Mang, public boats were often sent to explore the sea route, having found a white sand bank with the circuit of 1,070 truong (one truong equals 10 metres) with green foliage all around, in the middle of the sandbank there was a well, in the Southwest, there was an ancient temple with unknown construction time, but it had a stele inscribed 4 words “Van Ly Ba Binh” (Thousands of miles with quiet waves). This sandbank was formerly called Phat Tu Son, in the East and the West of the island there were coral reefs with a 340-truong large sandbank coming to the surface called Ban Than Thach. In the year of Minh Mang the 16th, the king sent public boats to carry bricks and stones to build a temple and plant a stele there on the left of the temple to mark and put the tree seeds on the right, the left and behind the temple. While building the temple, the workers had found copper leaves and iron of 2,000 kilos in weight”.
Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi / History of Unification of Great Viet Nam from 1865 to 1910.
IV. Truong Sa/Spratly archipelago belongs to Ba Ria province (1933)
The Decree No. 4702-CP on December 21, 1933 of Nam Ky (Southern part) Governor Krautheimer on merging the Truong Sa, An Bang, Itu Aba archipelagoes and the group of Song Tu Đông and Song Tu Tay, Loai Ta, Thi Tu islands and other dependent islands with Ba Ria province (Source: Bulletin Administratif de Cochinchine, No. 1, 1934).
Spratly archipelago belongs to Ba Ria province (1933)
V. Hoang Sa/Paracel archipelago belongs to Thua Thien Hue province (1938)
The edict No. 10 of King Bao Dai on February 29 of the year of Bao Dai the 13th (March 30, 1938) ordered that the Hoang Sa archipelago be separated from Nam Ngai province and merged with Thua Thien province. The content of the edict is as follows:
“The Hoang Sa archipelago has been the age-old sovereignty of Viet Nam and under the previous dynasties, the archipelago belonged to Nam Ngai province, and until Cao Hoang de (Emperor Gia Long), it remained intact as all the communication to the archipelago was through the estuaries of Nam Ngai province.
Now thanks to the progress of maritime activities, the transport and communication have changed and the interior minister representing the Protectorate Government reported that it was better to merge the Hoang Sa archipelago with Thua Thien province for more conveniences.
The Single Clause: It is approved that Hoang Sa archipelago is to be merged with Thua Thien Province: in terms of the administrative aspect, this archipelago falls under that province’s authority”.
VI. Maintainance of Administrative Management in Hoang Sa/Paracels in February 3rd, 1939
An official document approved by King Bao Dai on December 27th in the 13th Bao Dai year (February 3rd, 1939) confirmed the maintainance of administrative management as well as the dispatch of soldiers to Hoang Sa/Paracels.
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