FAQ: East Sea

By admin on June 19, 2011

  • SumoMe

Edited by OVSED Team and East Sea Research Group in France

 

 

What are the other names of the East Sea?

East Sea is a Vietnamese name [1]. It is also called as  “South China SeaExternal Link. South China Seais a English dominant name and equivalent in most European languages. But it is sometimes called by different names in neighboring countries. For example:

  • China: Nán Hǎi or Nán Zhōngguó Hǎi
  • IndonesiaLaut Cina Selatan/Laut Tiongkok Selatan
  • MalaysiaLaut China Selatan
  • PhilippinesDagat Timog Tsina, Dagat Luzon (Luzon Sea), Dagat Kanlurang Pilipinas (West Philippine Sea)
  • VietnamBiển Đông (East Sea)

There is an online campaign to rename the “South China Sea” as the “South East Asia Sea” with the participation of more than a 100 thousand people in 115 countries:

http://www.change.org/petitions/change-the-name-south-china-sea-to-southeast-asia-sea

 

Where is the East Sea?

The East Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific OceanExternal Link, encompassing an area from the SingaporeExternal Link and Malacca StraitsExternal Link to the Strait of TaiwanExternal Link. The East Sea encompasses  around 3,500,000 Km2 [1].  The International Hydrographic OrganizationExternal Link defines the limits of the East Sea as follows [1]:

Map of South China Sea

Map of South China Sea (C) eia.gov [2]


How many islands in the East Sea?

The area includes more than 250 small islands, rocks, and reefs, with the majority located in the Paracel Islands (“Quần Đảo Hoàng Sa” in Vietnamese, “Xisha Islands” for Chinese name) and Spratly Island (“Quần đảo Trường Sa” in Vietnamese, “Nansha Islands” for Chinese name) chains (others The Pratas IslandsExternal Link, The Macclesfield BankExternal Link and The Scarborough ShoalExternal Link[1]. Many of these islands are partially submerged islets, rocks, and reefs unsuitable for habitation and are little more than shipping hazards.

What is the importance of the East Sea?

The East Sea is rich in natural resources such as oil, natural gas, fishing. The below list presents some statistics of South China Sea Oil Shipping Lanes on GlobalSecurity.org [3]:

  • More than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Straits of Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok, with the majority continuing on into the East Sea.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the tonnage passing through the Strait of Malacca, and half of the volume passing the Spratly Islands, is crude oil from the Persian Gulf. Oil flows through the Strait of Malacca rose to 8.2 million barrels/day in 1996, and rising Asian oil demand could result in a doubling of these flows over the next two decades.
  • Liquefied natural gas shipments through the East Sea constitute two-thirds of the world’s overall LNG trade.

 

What is an Exclusive Economic Zone?

In Part 5, Article 57 of UNCLOS 1982, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured [4]. That means, an EEZ is a point extending 200 nautical miles from a country’s low water mark, which is a point on the shoreline that may not necessarily coincide with a low tide [5].

In the EEZ, the proprietary country has exclusive rights to explore, exploit, and protect the assets of the sea within that area. The exclusive economic zone, for example, makes clear that a country can drill and sell oil, or the rights to oil, within that defined area. The zone is an extension of territorial waters and the contiguous zone [5].

Sea areas in international rights. (C) Wikipedia.com [6]

What is the UNCLOS?

The principle of the freedom of the seas was first enunciated by a Dutch lawyer Hugo Grotius in the early 17th century [6]. He set out the legal principle that ”Navigation was free to all and no one country could lay claim to the seas on the basis that their navigators were the first to sail on it.’[7]. The freedom of the seas principle today is set out in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the SeaExternal Link[6]. UNCLOS sometimes referred to the Law of the Sea Treaty or the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea. UNCLOS is an international agreement resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1982, which came into force in November 1994.

The UNCLOS defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. The UNCLOS provides for claims to areas of the ocean to be made using 200 nautical miles of EEZ and/or the continental shelf principle.

 

What is the DOC 2002?

DOC 2002 is the Declaration on the ConductExternal Link of Parties in the East Sea in 2002. This declaration was signed by the 10 foreign ministers of ASEAN countries and China on 4 November 2002 in Phnom Penh where the signatory countries pledged to resolve their sovereignty disputes in a peaceful manner, without resorting to the use of force and through direct negotiations among the countries concerned. The parties also undertook to exercise self-restraint with activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, including refraining from inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features.

Which countries claim their sovereignty in the East Sea?

Competing territorial claims over the East Sea and its resources are numerous, with claims for various areas by Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam:

  • Six governments — Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have claims very overlapping.
  • China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim ALL the islands. Malaysia, Brunei and Philippines claim some of them.
Claims by Country
Country East Sea SpratlyIslands ParacelIslands GulfofThailand
Brunei UNCLOS no formal claim no n/a
Cambodia not applicable (n/a) n/a n/a UNCLOS
China all* all all n/a
Indonesia UNCLOS no no n/a
Malaysia UNCLOS 3 islands no UNCLOS
Philippines significant portions 8 islands no n/a
Taiwan all* all all n/a
Thailand n/a n/a n/a UNCLOS
Vietnam all* all all UNCLOS
*excluding buffer zone along littoral states (calculations for buffer unknown)

More details: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/spratly-claims.htmExternal Link

 

BruneiExternal Link – Brunei’s claim to the East Sea Sea is limited to its EEZ, which extends to one of the southern reefs of the Spratly Islands. However, Brunei has not made any formal claims to the reef nor to any of the Spratlys. Brunei makes no claims towards any of the Paracel Islands.CambodiaExternal Link – Cambodia claims portions of the Gulf of Thailand based upon its EEZ and the continental shelf principle, as well as its history in the Gulf. In 1982, Cambodia signed The Agreement on Historic Waters with Vietnam, setting the stage for later cooperation between the two countries. In 2006, Cambodia and Vietnam announced their intention to share the oil resources of the Gulf of Thailand. Cambodia has no such agreements with either Thailand or Malaysia. ChinaExternal Link – China claims almost all of the East Sea. China claims all of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands in Chinese), and occupies several of the islands with its military. In 1974, China seized the Paracel Islands from Vietnam and continues to maintain sovereignty over the islands. Additionally, China claims the Pratas Islands.

IndonesiaExternal Link – Indonesia’s claim to the East Sea is limited to the boundaries of the EEZ and continental shelf. Indonesia claims neither the Spratly nor the Paracel Islands.

MalaysiaExternal Link – Malaysia’s claim to the East Sea is limited to the boundaries of the EEZ and continental shelf. Malaysia claims three islands of the Spratlys, having built a hotel on one and bringing soil from the mainland to raise the level of another. Malaysia makes no claim to the Paracel Islands. Malaysia also claims portions of the Gulf of Thailand, based upon its EEZ and the continental shelf principle. Malaysia signed a cooperative agreement for exploration and development with Thailand in 1979. In 1992, Malaysia and Vietnam signed a Joint Development Areas agreement. Malaysia has no such agreement with Cambodia.

PhilippinesExternal Link – The Philippines claim a sizeable portion of the East Sea. The Philippines occupy eight of the Spratly Islands (Kalayaan in Filipino). The Philippines do not claim the Paracel Islands. Filipino claims are based upon the EEZ and continental shelf principle, as well as a 1956 Filipino explorer’s expedition.

TaiwanExternal Link – Taiwan claims almost all of the East Sea. Taiwan claims all of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands in Chinese) and has announced its intention to build an airstrip on Taiping. Taiwan claims all of the Paracel Islands. Additionally, Taiwan occupies the Pratas Islands. Taiwan’s claims are based on principles similar to those of China.

ThailandExternal Link – Thailand claims the Gulf of Thailand based upon its EEZ and the continental shelf principle. Thailand signed a cooperative agreement for exploration and development with Malaysia in 1979. In 1997, Thailand and Vietnam signed an agreement setting the delimitation of their respective sea boundaries. Thailand has no agreements with Cambodia.

VietnamExternal Link – Vietnam claims a significant portion of the East Sea based upon its EEZ and the continental shelf principle. Vietnam claims all of the Spratly Islands (Truong Sa in Vietnamese), and has occupied twenty of them. Vietnam claims all of the Paracel Islands (Hoang Sa in Vietnamese) despite being forcibly ejected (seized) by China in 1974. Vietnam also claims the Gulf of Thailand based upon its EEZ and the continental shelf principle. In 1982, Vietnam signed The Agreement on Historic Waters with Cambodia, setting the stage for later cooperation between the two countries. In 2006, Vietnam and Cambodia announced their intention to share the oil resources of the Gulf of Thailand. In 1992, Vietnam and Malaysia signed a Joint Development Areas agreement. In 1997, Vietnam and Thailand signed an agreement setting the delimitation of their respective sea boundaries.

 

Countris Claiming Ownership (C) eia.gov [2]

 

What is the basis of China’s claims?

  • In the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  the People’s Republic of China China, China has released 3 evidences [8a] to claim China’s Sovereignty over the “Nansha Islands“,  Chinese name for Spratly Islands (“Quần đảo Trường Sa” in Vietnamese) [1c]. However China has NOT given any referential sources for these evidences:
    • historical records of the Han Dynasty: “the Chinese people were the first to discover and name the Nansha Islands”
    • historical records of the Tang, Song, Jin, Ming and Qing Dynasties: “the Chinese people have developed the Nansha Islands and carried out productive activities”
    • historical records of the Tang, Ming and Qing Dynasties: “China included the Nansha Islands into its administrative map”

In this document, China also recalled the facts of the French invasion in 1930s and Japanese invasion in the World War II. However, there was always NO proving sources.

For China’s Sovereignty over the Paracels Islands (“Quần Đảo Hoàng Sa” in Vietnamese, “Xisha Islands” in Chinese), there is up to now NO information on the topics of The Issue of South China SeaExternal Link on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

What is the basis of Vietnam’s claims?

  • UNCLOSExternal Link-EEZ
  • Continental shelf principle:
    • historical records of Le DynastyExternal Link (1428-1788) in “Toàn tập Thiên Nam tứ chí lộ đồ thưExternal Link (Hán-Nôm: 纂集天南四至路圖書; English: “The Handbook of the South’s Road Map”) [9], a geographical book written by a Vietnamese scholar with the family of Đỗ Bá in the second half of the 18th century. [9] compiled in the 17th century by Đỗ Bá Công Đạo, clearly noted in the maps of Quảng Ngãi Prefecture in Quảng Nam that “there was a long sandbank in the middle of the sea that is called Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, referring to Spratly Islands)”, and that “during the last month of every winter, the Nguyễn rulers send eighteen boats there to collect goods, mainly jewelries, money, guns, and ammunition”.

paracel2.png

Scanned image of a page of “Toàn tập Thiên Nam tứ chí lộ đồ thưExternal Link

(纂集天南四至路图書The Handbook of the South’s Road Map) [9]

    • During assignment of the scholar Lê Quý Đôn (Hán-Nôm: 黎貴惇) (1726–1784) in Southern Viet Nam, he compiled the 1776 “Phủ biên tạp lụcExternal Link (Hán-Nôm: 撫邊雜錄; English: Miscellany on the Pacification at the Frontier) [10] on the history, geography, and administration of Southern Viet Nam under the Nguyễn lords (1558–1775). In this work, Lê Quý Đôn described that Đại Trường Sa (including the Paracel and the Spratly Islands) was under the jurisdiction of Quảng Ngãi Prefecture.

paracel3

Scanned images of the pages describing the Paracel and the Spratly Islands in “Phủ biên tạp lụcExternal Link

(撫邊雜錄/Miscellany on the Pacification at the Frontier) [10]

 

    • historical records of Nguyen DynastyExternal Link (1802-1945) in “An Nam đại quốc họa đồExternal Link (Hán-Nôm: 安南大國畫English: The Map of the An Nam Empire) [11] published in 1838, Bishop Taberd depicted part of Paracels and noted “Paracel seu Cát Vàng” (English: Paracel or Cát Vàng) for the islands farther than those near the shore of Central Viet Nam, corresponding to the area of the Paracel Islands nowadays.

 

paracel4

Scanned image of “An Nam đại quốc họa đồ External Link(安南大國畫圖/Tabula geographica imperii Anamitici) [11]

    • The map of Viet Nam under the Nguyễn Dynasty (c. 1838), “Đại Nam nhất thống toàn đồExternal Link (Hán-Nôm: 大南ー統全English: The Complete Map of the Unified Đại Nam) [12], indicated that “Hoàng Sa”(number 1) and “Vạn Lý Trường Sa” (number 2) are Vietnamese territories. These islands were depicted to be further offshore compared to those near the Central coast.

paracel5

Đại Nam nhất thống toàn đồExternal Link

(大南ー統全/The Complete Map of the Unified Đại Nam) [12]

    • In “Đại Nam nhất thống chí (Hán-Nôm: 大南ー統志; English: The Geography of the Unified Đại Nam), the geography book completed in 1882 [13] by Quốc sử quán (Hán-Nôm: 國史館; English: The National History Institute) of the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802–1845), indicates that the Paracel Islands are part of Viet Nam’s territory and was under the administration of the Province of Quảng Ngãi.
  • paracel6

    Scanned image of a page in Đại Nam nhất thống chí External Link

    (大南ー統志, English: The Geography of the Unified Đại Nam) [13]

 

    • Historical Sovereignty of Viet Nam over The Paracel and The Spratly Islands can be found also in Western documents:

File:Vietnam-1754.jpgA western map depicting the islands as Vietnamese territory. (C) Wikipedia.com

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vietnam-1754.jpg External Link

 

    • And many different other evidences of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Paracels Islands and  Spratley Islands can be found HEREExternal Link.

 

What does China claims its sovereignty over the East Sea?

China claims 80% its sovereignty in the East Sea [14]. China’s nine-dotted line” or “U-shaped line” in the East Sea is completely groundless and runs counter to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of which China is a member. The claim has violated the exclusive economic zones and continental shelves of a number of countries in the region [15].

MapBy using nine-dotted line” or “U-shaped line”,

China claims 80% its sovereignty in the East Sea. (C) BBC [15]

URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13748349

 

Where is the incident on May 26th, 2011 between three Chinese patrol vessels and Binh Minh 02 ship of PetroVietnam?

The latest clash involving between three Chinese patrol vessels and Binh Minh 02 ship of PetroVietnam occurred  at at the location of 12’48’’25N and 111’26’’48E [17], 120km (74,5645431 miles < 200 miles of EEZ) off the south-central coast of Vietnam and some 600km (372,822715 miles 200 miles of EEZ) south of China’s Hainan island [18].

Coordination of the incident between three Chinese patrol vessels

and Binh Minh 02 ship of PetroVietnam. (C) AVI

 

Where is the incident on May 31th, 2011 between a Chinese fishing ship and Viking II ship of PetroVietnam?

The incident took place at 8024’8” N – 108052’5” E [19], 160 nautical miles off the south coast of Vietnam, ‘well inside’ Vietnam’s 200-nautical-mile EEZ [20].

 

Coordination of two latest incidents:

one three Chinese patrol vessels and Binh Minh 02 ship of PetroVietnam

and another between a Chinese fishing ship and Viking II ship of PetroVietnam (C) Petrotimes

 

 

(Continuing updates…)

 

 

References

[1a] Wikipedia. Introduction to the South China Sea. Last Updated: June 18th, 2011.

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_China_SeaExternal Link

[1b] Wikipedia. Introduction to the Paracel Islands. Last Updated: June 16th, 2011.

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_China_SeaExternal Link

[1c] Wikipedia. Introduction to the Spratly Islands. Last Updated: June 18th, 2011.

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spratly_IslandsExternal Link and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nansha_IslandsExternal Link

[2] U.S. Department of Energy. Introduction to the South China Sea. Last Updated: March 2008.

URL: http://www.eia.gov/countries/regions-topics.cfm?fips=SCSExternal Link

[3] Global Security. Statistics of South China Sea Oil Shipping Lanes.

URL: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/spratly-ship.htmExternal Link

[4] United Nation. Definition of the Exclusive Economic Zone. 1982.

URL: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part5.htmExternal Link

[5] Wikipedia. Introduction to the Exclusive Economic Zone. Last Updated: June 3th, 2011.

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclusive_Economic_ZoneExternal Link

[6] Ji Guoxing. SLOC Security in the Asia Pacific. Center Occasional Paper Asia-Pacific Center For Security Studies. 2000.

URL: http://www.southchinasea.org/docs/Ji%20Guoxing-SLOC%20Security%20in%20the%20Asia%20Pacific.htmExternal Link

[7] Bruce Farthing, Farthing on International Shipping, Business of Shipping Series, LLP, London Hong Kong, 1997, p. 7.

URL: http://www.amazon.com/Farthing-International-Shipping-3rd-Bruce/dp/1859781594External Link

[8] Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  the People’s Republic of China. Jurisprudential Evidence To Support China’s Sovereignty over the Nansha Islands. November 17th, 2000.

URL: http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/topics/3754/t19234.htmExternal Link

[9]   Do Ba. Toản tập Thiên Nam tứ chí lộ đồ thư (Hán-Nôm: 纂集天南四至路圖書), Le DynastyExternal Link (1428-1788).

English: “The Handbook of the South’s Road Map”

URL: http://biengioilanhtho.gov.vn/vie/toantapthiennamtuchi-nd-62a08307.aspxExternal Link

[10] Le Quy Don. Phủ biên tạp lục (Hán-Nôm: 撫邊雜錄), 1776.

English: “Miscellany on the Pacification at the Frontier”

URL: http://biengioilanhtho.gov.vn/vie/phubientapluc(lequy-nd-4c4c7d9d.aspxExternal Link

[11] Nguyen Dynasty. “An Nam đại quốc họa đồExternal Link (Hán-Nôm: 安南大國畫圖), 1838.

English: The Map of the An Nam Empire

URL: http://biengioilanhtho.gov.vn/Media/bbg/AdvImage/Images/vie/c13c3a85-7aaf-47c7-b082-f0e13784cb86/EU.639.jpgExternal Link

[12] Nguyen Dynasty. “Đại Nam nhất thống toàn đồ External Link(Hán-Nôm: 大南ー統全圖), 1838

English: “The Complete Map of the Unified Đại Nam”

URL: http://biengioilanhtho.gov.vn/vie/dainamnhatthongtoando-nd-d02979b0.aspxExternal Link

[13] Nguyen Dynasty. Đại Nam nhất thống chí External Link (Hán-Nôm: 大南ー統志, English: The Geography of the Unified Đại Nam), 1882.

URL: http://biengioilanhtho.gov.vn/vie/dainamnhatthongchi-nd-22e84e0b.aspxExternal Link

[14] Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam. China’s claim to 80 percent of East Sea completely unfounded. Natural Resources and Environment Newspaper (NREN). 2009.

URL: http://www.monre.gov.vn/v35/default.aspx?tabid=675&CateID=80&ID=71033&Code=67C1S71033 External Link

[15] Vaudine England. Who’s right in South China Sea spat?, BBC News, March 13, 2009.

URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13748349External Link

[16] Interactive Map of the Spratly Islands, South China Sea

URL: http://www.southchinasea.org/macand/index.htm External Link

[17] Vietnam accuses China of violating marine sovereignty. Tuoi Tre News. May 29, 2011.

URL: http://tuoitrenews.vn/cmlink/tuoitrenews/politics/vietnam-accuses-china-of-violating-marine-sovereignty-1.32618 External Link

[18] Vietnam accuses China in seas dispute. BCC. May 30th, 2011.

URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13592508 External Link

[19] 1 more Vietnam ship harassed by foreign vessels. Tuoi Tre News. June 1st, 2011

URL: http://tuoitrenews.vn/cmlink/tuoitrenews/society/1-more-vietnam-ship-harassed-by-foreign-vessels-1.32959 External Link

[20] Vietnam-China tensions over sea dispute rise. Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA). Jun 9th, 2011

URL: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1644521.php/Vietnam-China-tensions-over-sea-dispute-rise External Link

 

 

  • Hien

    It must be South East Sea,not south china sea.please change this.

  • Anonymous

    @Hien: We work on the TRUTH respect spirit. The both South East Sea and Southeast Asia Sea are BEING requested to change. Once they are used in the official administrative document, we are able to use them as an “also known as (a.k.a)” name.

  • Levinhtruongvn

    Thank you for the FAQ!