King Minh Mang with Vietnam’s island sovereignty

Posted at: WEDnesday - 20/02/2013 13:46 - post name: Phan Trọng Quỳnh

 
King Minh Mang with Vietnam’s island sovereignty

Among 13 Kings of the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 to 1945, Minh Mang is the second King, who ruled from 1820 to 1841. As a well-known administrative reformer, he was instrumental in uniting the nationandscientifically and reasonablydemarcatingthe local administrative borders, which have been stayed stable since then.

Especially, in order to inherit, preserve, and exploiting the national island sovereignty, King Minh Mang undertook many specific policies claiming the Motherland’s island sovereignty methodically and drastically.

The most specific evidence that visitors from all over the world could see when visiting the relic population of Huethe ancient capital is that Vietnam’s island sovereignty is affirmed by the lively image on the Nine Tripod Cauldrons placed in front of The Mieu. The Nine Tripod Cauldronsconsists of nine big tripod bronze cauldrons casted under King Minh Mang’s order on December 1835 and completed on June 1837. It is the most lively sovereignty document by images that King Minh Mang would like to pass to the future generations as an affirmation of the country’s immortality.

Among 153 typical images about the country selected to be sculptured on the Nine Tripod Caldrons, the East Sea is on the Cao Dinh, the biggest tripod caldron among the Nine Tripod Cauldrons, the South Sea on the Nhan Dinh, and the Western Sea on Chuong Dinh. These are 3 biggest tripod cauldrons symbolizing first threekings of the Nguyen dynasty. According to the researchers on Hue, the administrative frontier of the localities and coastal areas were divided clearly in the State decentralized administration under the reign of King Minh Mang. The East Sea stretches from the North to Binh Thuan including the Paracel Islandstrip of goldensand and Spratly, also known as Van Ly Ba Binh. The South Sea consists of many islands such as Dai Kim, Manh Hao, Noi Truc, Con Dao, Phu Quoc, Tho Chau etc.from Binh Thuan to Ha Tien adjacent to the Malaysian and Indonesianterritorial waters, and The WestSea has borders with the Gulf of Thailand. 

Three waters of Vietnam are sculptured on the Nine Tripod Cauldrons with the image of undulating rivers andmany looming islands of various sizes,embossed with Chinese scriptsof namesof East Sea, South Sea, and West Seaat the center of the image. This is the most original and impressive message asserting the nation’s sovereignty overtheseas and islands that the King Minh Mang bequeathed in the historical process of protecting and preserving the Motherland’s waters.

The existing stored archives and records of Royal by the Nguyen dynasty also pointed that the King Minh Mang not only introduced the sea and island oriented policy, but also directly supervised the implementation by issuing hundreds of records of Royal approving the direction of mapping, navigation marking,treeplanting, and shrine constructingon the Paracel Island. All of the work was aimed at claimingthe sovereignty over the country’s sacred territorial waters. As written in Đại Nam thực lục chính biên đệ nhị kỷ, book 104 – the 14th year of Ming Mang (1833): The King decreed theMinistry of Works that: In the Quang Ngai waters, there is a sea named Hoang Sa with an immense blue of not knowingits depth. In recent times, the merchant ships have always been in danger. It is the time that we should prepare the junks to send doers for building temple and steles and planting treesnext year. Afterwards, the trees would be so verdant and luxuriant thatmerchant ships could spoteasily, and so that they could avoid beingcaught in a shoal. It is a good deed forever.”

As well, the sovereignty marking was also directed closely by King Minh Mang: “Each year, he sends people to Hoang Sa and Truong Sa to measure the sea route, drawing maps, plantinglandmarks, and setting up steles. Each sail visiting Paracel Island must bring 10 wooden posts (milestones) of 4.5 feet in length and 5 inches in width, and plant landmark at anywhere they reach.”

If doinga simple calculation, during 20years of King Minh Mang’s rule, there would be hundreds of islands of various sizes of the “Strip of Golden Sand” planted by a Hoang Samilitia under the King’s order with the task of planting 10 sovereignty landmarks each year.

Not limited to encouraging the militia to come to the Great Paracel Island, King Minh Mang offered the strict reward and punishment policy for and against those who did not complete their tasks in Hoang Sa. The recordof Royal No.092, ord. 070, book 054 in the 16th year of Ming Mang (1835) wrote: Sending the army to Hoang Sa forunclear measurement and mappingmade Tran Van Van, Nguyen Van Tien, and Nguyen Van Hoang sentenced to the 80lashes before being released.The King awarded each of the twoinstructors Vu Va Hung and Pham Van Sinh with 3 small silver turtle-shell shaped coin container and those involved in the work with one quan.

According to researcherson Hue, among 13 Kings of Nguyen dynasty, Minh Mang is the person endowing the largest quantity of documents, records of Royal onHoang Sa exploitation and protection. Because of his extreme concern on the sovereignty over especial and Truong Sa, he had many well-known captains of Hoang Sa strong troops trained and steeled to be the historical hallmark of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa construction and protection under the Nguyen Dynasty.They are Ship Manger Pham Van Nguyen in 16th year of Minh Mang (1835), Chief Captain of detachment commandeerPham Huu Nhat in the 17th year of Minh Mang dynasty (1836), Fleet Admiral of the detachment commandeer Pham Van Bien in the 18th year of Minh Mang dynasty (1837, and so forth. 

It may be said that under the King Minh Mang dynasty, expanding the territorial waters and affirming the island sovereignty of the country were inherited and promoted so effectively that not all of Nguyen Dynasty’s Kings could catch up with. Thanks to King Minh Mang’s great credits, we now have more historical evidences to assert the sacred sovereignty of the country over the Paracel Island and Spratly issue and become a valuable lesson in protecting and preserving the National territorial watersfor us and our future generations.

Translated by Nga Nguyen

 

Author: According to Ngo Minh Thuyen
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