The East Sea disputes
Mongolia has indisputable sovereignty over the territory from the Yellow Sea in East Asia to Europe. Any place which was named in the map of the Mongolian Empire from the 12th to 13th centuries belongs to the current Mongolia. The descendants of Genghis Khan can absolutely make that statement if China’s mistake about the South China Sea (East Sea) based on “history” is true.
The country of Giao Chi (Vietnam today) with the Giao Chi Sea
in China’s ancient book of maps entitled “Vo Bi Chi”.
The East Sea, called as South China Sea by China, did not appear in both cultural and political life of this country for a long time. In Chinese literature and history, we often see the name East China Sea than the sea to the south of China, which was neglected.
According to researcher Nguyen Dinh Dau, almost all ancient Chinese maps from the 15th to the early 20th centuries noted the sea to the east of Vietnam as Giao Chi (Jiaozhi) Sea or East Sea or Great East Sea, meaning the sea of Giao Chi (Vietnam) or the East Sea (of Vietnam).
On pages 11b and 12a in “Vo Bi Chi” (a book about the journey of a Chinese man named Cheng Ho from China, through the Indian Ocean to Africa in 1405-1433), Vietnam or Giao Chi country was drawn to be adjacent to China’s Qinzhou to the north, Champa to the south, the Giao Chi Sea (the sea of Giao Chi country or Vietnam) to the east.
In 1842, another Chinese author named Wei Yuan published “Hai Quoc Do Chi”, book of maps of all countries in the world with meridians and latitudes. There are two maps of Vietnam in this book.
In the first map, An Nam (Vietnam) is divided into two parts (eastern and western parts). Offshore Vietnam to the east, Wei Yuan noted as Great East Sea. In the second map, offshore An Nam is the sea named East Sea.
How and when did China’s U-shape line appear to claim 80 percent of the East Sea?
At the international conference on the East Sea, held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C in mid-June 2011, for the first time a Chinese academician officially admitted that the U-shape is inherited from the Jiang Jieshi administration.
According to Chinese Professor Su Hao, from the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, originating from the “initiative” of a Chinese in 1930, in 1947, Jiang Jieshi permitted the circulation of the map with the U-shape line within the country. In 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was established, the new administration printed this map in textbooks for kids.
Clear historical evidences?
China says that it has “clear” historical evidences to confirm its sovereignty in the East Sea. Firstly, Chinese with strong naval forces has traveled in the East Sea in the past 2000 years from Hainan to Indonesia.
Secondly, Chinese fishermen consider the East Sea as their traditional fishing ground and anyone who does not believe in these evidences can look at “vestiges” on islands in the disputed area, including the remains of Chinese who were there.
Therefore, though in the past 2000 years, no Chinese king declared the East Sea as China’s “core interest”, this sea naturally belongs to China.
Not caring how many “vestiges” are true, it is impossible to convene anyone that the above “evidences” are enough for China to claim its sovereignty for territorial waters. If it is accepted, the remains of Chinese invaders at the Dong Da hill relic in Hanoi could be considered as “evidences” to claim for sovereignty.
The argument about the journeys of Chinese navy and traders in the East Sea is vague. If it is accepted as “historical evidences”, the British will be the dominator of the world because their vessels travelled across all oceans in the world, including China’s East China Sea.
The casuistry of name
The international name for the East Sea is South China Sea. It is the name made by European merchants who had commercial exchange with China through the East Sea in the modern history, and it has no meaning in terms of sovereignty.
The latest article by researcher Nguyen Dinh Dau, explained clearly why the Cochinchina sea was mistakenly noted into China Sea by Western people.
However, many Chinese people still mistake that the name South China Sea means the East Sea belongs to China. In articles by China Daily, the leading English Newspaper of China, the South China Sea is sometimes called China’s South Sea.
This mistake causes extremely serious harmful effects. On one hand, it stimulates the insular nationalism among Chinese. On the other hand, it makes the voice of Southeast Asian nations involving in the East Sea disputes weaker in international media.
In early June, the Philippines stated to call the disputed sea as the West Philippines Sea instead of South China Sea. Some scholars suggest changing the international name of this sea into the Southeast Asia Sea to clear the vagueness.
Mentioning China’s casuistry “anything that is related to my name, it’s mine,” a reader of the Economist commented ironically: “The sea is called South China Sea, so it belongs to China? Similarly, the Indian Ocean will belong to India? If it is true, perhaps other countries should change their name… For China, perhaps it wants to change its name into Pacific”.