Sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands
Subsequent Development of the Title 129
Has this comment been confirmed? Was it purely verbal or was there a
written record of it?
As these questions remain unanswered, this statement cannot be seen as a
legally valid pronouncement.
China also relies on a declaration by the Government of the Democratic
Republic of Vietnam dated 9 May 1965 and relating to the combat zone of
the American armed forces.
North Vietnam is said to have denounced the fact that this zone included:
A portion of Chinese territorial waters contiguous to the Xisha
Islands which belong to the People's Republic of China.97
Lastly, the declaration referred to a statement of 14 September 1958 by
Pham Van Dong, Prime Minister in the Government of the Democratic
Republic of Vietnam. Previously, on 4 September, China had publicized the
fact that it was extending the breadth of its territorial sea to 12 nautical
miles. It was indicated that this involved mainland China and all the islands
belonging to China, the Paracels and Spratlys among them, were specifically
The Note by Pham Van Dong states:
We would solemnly inform you that the Government of the
Democratic Republic of Vietnam recognizes and approves the
declaration made on 4 September 1958 by the Government of
the People's Republic of China regarding the decision taken
with respect to China's territorial sea.
The Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
respects that decision and will instruct its responsible national
bodies that, in the event of contact at sea with the People's
Republic of China, the stipulation regarding the breadth of the
Chinese territorial sea as being 12 nautical miles will be
Articles published by the daily Nhan Dan in 1969 and 1970, referring to
Chinese airspace 'above the Paracels' aggravated the situation.
To assess these events, two facts need to be taken into account: the
precise significance of the North Vietnamese attitude and North Vietnam's
place among the partners concerned.
It is true that Phan Van Dong's declaration confines itself strictly to
recognition of the breadth of the Chinese territorial sea. So it is incorrect to
assert that Vietnam had also 'reaffirmed its recognition of China's claim' to
97 (1988) 8 Nouvelles sinologiques at p. 30.