Huynh Thuc Khang and Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa

Posted at: MONday - 26/05/2014 13:53 - post name: Nguyễn Thị Thùy

Huynh Thuc Khang and Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa

Huynh Thuc Khang, an anti-colonialist in the early 20th century, had many times affirmed Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

In his articles published in the Tieng Dan (People’s Voice) newspaper, he attached great importance to providing scientific evidence to prove Vietnam’s sovereignty over the island. From mid 1938, the dispute over the sovereignty of the Hoang Sa island between Japan and France became serious. In March 1939, the archipelago was occupied by Japan.

In response to the situation, from July 13 1938, the Tieng Dan newspaper ran articles about the island, including valuable research articles and commentaries.

In an article written by Huynh Thuc Khang himself, he said the uninhabited islands, in the context of the China-Japan war, became serious international issues.

He also said in the article that according to reports and recent documents, the archipelago belonged to Vietnam.

He listed various documents such as Phu Bien Tap Luc (Miscellaneous Chronicles of the Pacified Frontier) by Le Quy Don, the Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi (official geographical record of Vietnam's Nguyen’s Dynasty written in Chinese) and others which all say the Hoang Sa archipelago is under Vietnam’s sovereignty. Of all documents, the Phu Bien Tap Luc was the most appreciated as administrative, geological, economic, and military information was provided accurately by a profound scientist.

Through his articles “the Paracel traces in Vietnam’s history and the value of the Phu Bien Tap Luc”, Huynh Thuc Khang said the affirmation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa island should be based on Chinese documents. We can recognise that a lot of Chinese books, which we used to think valueless, now become very valuable documents.

Huynh Thuc Khang used various ancient documents to prove that Hoang Sa is under Vietnam’s management.

Accordingly, the Phu Bien Tap Luc say off the sea of Quang Ngai province, there are many islands, including the Hoang Sa, which is about 30 miles in length. There are various kinds of specialities there such as bird nest, tortoise-shell, conch, and sea cucumber. It is recorded in the history that as requested by the Nguyễn Lord, the Hoang Sa team, comprising of 70crew members, had to go to the island in March to look for sea specialities. They came back in August. Thuyen Duc Hau, who was in charge of the team, listed things they found during their journeys. One of the most historical evidence was the letter sent by a mandarin of China’s Van Xuong district to the Nguyễn Lord, saying that in the 19th Can Long year (1754), 2 of the crew members of the Hoang Sa team and their boat were drifted to his district. He then sent them back to An Nam (Vietnam).

In the meantime, the Lich Trieu Hien Chuong (the first encyclopaedia of Vietnam) by Phan Huy Chu says it took three days to get to Hoang Sa from the Sa Ky seaport eastward.

Huynh Thuc Khang also cited other documents to affirm Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa island. He said there are some things related to Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelago.

First, the disputes over the sovereignty of the Hoang Sa archipelago started in the 1940s.

Second, the Hoang Sa island belongs to the country which has ancient documents which affirm their sovereignty over the island.

Third, it is necessary to find documents in Chinese (Han) and Nom languages to scientifically affirm Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa island.

Forth, it is necessary to thoroughly study the Nguyen Dynasty’s protection of the nation’s territory and sovereignty, including sovereignty over the sea and islands.

Fifth, of all ancient documents, the Phu Bien Tap Luc by Le Quy Don is the most valuable regarding Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa island.

Seven decades have passed, Huynh Thuc Khang’s teachings remains historically significant. Vietnamese people will bear in mind his responsibility for the protection of the nation.

Author: Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Manh (Hue Science University) Translated by Dic
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