I. Nanhai Zhudao Are China's Inherent Territory
i. China's sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao is established in the course of history
8. The Chinese people have since ancient times lived and engaged in production activities on Nanhai Zhudao and in relevant waters. China is the first to have discovered, named, and explored and exploited Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters, and the first to have continuously, peacefully and effectively exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over them, thus establishing sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao and the relevant rights and interests in the South China Sea.
9. As early as the 2nd century BCE in the Western Han Dynasty, the Chinese people sailed in the South China Sea and discovered Nanhai Zhudao in the long course of activities.
10. A lot of Chinese historical literatures chronicle the activities of the Chinese people in the South China Sea. These books include, among others, Yi Wu Zhi (An Account of Strange Things) published in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), Fu Nan Zhuan (An Account of Fu Nan) during the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280), Meng Liang Lu (Record of a Daydreamer) and Ling Wai Dai Da (Notes for the Land beyond the Passes) in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Dao Yi Zhi Lüe (A Brief Account of the Islands) in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Dong Xi Yang Kao (Studies on the Oceans East and West) and Shun Feng Xiang Song (Fair Winds for Escort) in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Zhi Nan Zheng Fa (Compass Directions) and Hai Guo Wen Jian Lu (Records of Things Seen and Heard about the Coastal Regions) in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). These books also record the geographical locations and geomorphologic characteristics of Nanhai Zhudao as well as hydrographical and meteorological conditions of the South China Sea. These books record vividly descriptive names the Chinese people gave to Nanhai Zhudao, such as "Zhanghaiqitou" (twisted atolls on the rising sea), "Shanhuzhou" (coral cays), "Jiuruluozhou" (nine isles of cowry), "Shitang" (rocky reefs), "Qianlishitang" (thousand-li rocky reefs), "Wanlishitang" (ten thousand-li rocky reefs), "Changsha" (long sand cays), "Qianlichangsha" (thousand-li sand cays), and "Wanlichangsha" (ten thousand-li sand cays).
11. The Chinese fishermen have developed a relatively fixed naming system for the various components of Nanhai Zhudao in the long process of exploration and exploitation of the South China Sea. Under this system, islands and shoals have become known as "Zhi"; reefs "Chan", "Xian", or "Sha"; atolls "Kuang", "Quan" or "Tang"; and banks "Shapai". Geng Lu Bu (Manual of Sea Routes), a kind of navigation guidebook for Chinese fishermen's journeys between the coastal regions of China's mainland and Nanhai Zhudao, came into being and circulation in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and has been handed down in various editions and versions of handwritten copies and is still in use even today. It shows that the Chinese people lived and carried out production activities on, and how they named Nanhai Zhudao. Geng Lu Bu records names for at least 70 islands, reefs, shoals and cays of Nansha Qundao. Some were named after compass directions in Chinese renditions, such as Chouwei (Zhubi Jiao) and Dongtou Yixin (Pengbo Ansha); some were named after local aquatic products in the surrounding waters such as Chigua Xian (Chigua Jiao, "chigua" means "red sea cucumber") and Mogua Xian (Nanping Jiao, "mogua" means "black sea cucumber"); some were named after their shapes, such as Niaochuan (Xian'e Jiao, "niaochuan" means "bird string") and Shuangdan (Xinyi Jiao, "shuangdan" means "shoulder poles"); some were named after physical objects, such as Guogai Zhi (Anbo Shazhou, "guogai" means "pot cover") and Chenggou Zhi (Jinghong Dao, "chenggou" means "steelyard hook"); still some were named after waterways such as Liumen Sha (Liumen Jiao, "liumen" means "six doorways").
12. Some of the names given by the Chinese people to Nanhai Zhudao were adopted by Western navigators and marked in some authoritative navigation guidebooks and charts published in the 19th and 20th centuries. For instance, Namyit (Hongxiu Dao), Sin Cowe (Jinghong Dao) and Subi (Zhubi Jiao) originate from "Nanyi", "Chenggou" and "Chouwei" as pronounced in Hainan dialects.
13. Numerous historical documents and objects prove that the Chinese people have explored and exploited in a sustained way Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters. Starting from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Chinese fishermen sailed southward on the northeasterly monsoon to Nansha Qundao and relevant waters for fishery production activities and returned on the southwesterly monsoon to the mainland the following year. Some of them lived on the islands for years, going for fishing, digging wells for fresh water, cultivating land and farming, building huts and temples, and raising livestock. Chinese and foreign historical literature as well as archaeological finds show that there were crops, wells, huts, temples, tombs and tablet inscriptions left by Chinese fishermen on some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao.
14. Many foreign documents also recorded the fact that during a long period of time only Chinese lived and worked on Nansha Qundao.
15. The China Sea Directory published in 1868 by order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom, when referring to Zhenghe Qunjiao of Nansha Qundao, observed that "Hainan fishermen, who subsist by collecting trepang and tortoise-shell, were found upon most of these islands, some of whom remain for years amongst the reefs", and that "[t]he fishermen upon Itu-Aba island [Taiping Dao] were more comfortably established than the others, and the water found in the well on that island was better than elsewhere." The China Sea Directory published in 1906 and The China Sea Pilot in its 1912, 1923 and 1937 editions made in many parts explicit records of the Chinese fishermen living and working on Nansha Qundao.
16. The French magazine Le Monde Colonial Illustré published in September 1933 contains the following records: Only Chinese people (Hainan natives) lived on the nine islands of Nansha Qundao and there were no people from other countries. Seven were on Nanzi Dao (South West Cay), two of them were children. Five lived on Zhongye Dao (Thitu Island); four lived on Nanwei Dao (Spratly Island), one person more over that of 1930. There were worship stands, thatched cottages and wells left by the Chinese on Nanyao Dao (Loaita Island). No one was sighted on Taiping Dao (Itu Aba Island), but a tablet scripted with Chinese characters was found, which said that, in that magazine's rendition, "Moi, Ti Mung, patron de jonque, suis venu ici à la pleine lune de mars pour vous porter des aliments. Je n'ai trouvé personne, je laisse le riz à l'abri des pierres et je pars." Traces were also found of fishermen living on the other islands. This magazine also records that there are abundant vegetation, wells providing drinking water, coconut palms, banana trees, papaya trees, pineapples, green vegetables and potatoes as well as poultry on Taiping Dao, Zhongye Dao, Nanwei Dao and other islands, and that these islands are habitable.
17. Japanese literature Boufuu No Shima (Stormy Island) published in 1940 as well as The Asiatic Pilot, Vol. IV, published by the United States Hydrographic Office in 1925 also have accounts about Chinese fishermen who lived and worked on Nansha Qundao.
18. China is the first to have continuously exercised authority over Nanhai Zhudao and relevant maritime activities. In history, China has exercised jurisdiction in a continuous, peaceful and effective manner over Nanhai Zhudao and in relevant waters through measures such as establishment of administrative setups, naval patrols, resources development, astronomical observation and geographical survey.
19. For instance, in the Song Dynasty, China established a post of Jing Lüe An Fu Shi (Imperial Envoy for Management and Pacification) in the regions now known as Guangdong and Guangxi to govern the southern territory. It is mentioned in Zeng Gongliang's Wujing Zongyao (Outline Record of Military Affairs) that, in order to strengthen defense in the South China Sea, China established naval units to conduct patrols therein. In the Qing Dynasty, Ming Yi's Qiongzhou Fuzhi (Chronicle of Qiongzhou Prefecture), Zhong Yuandi's Yazhou Zhi (Chronicle of Yazhou Prefecture) and others all listed "Shitang" and "Changsha" under the items of "maritime defense".
20. Many of China's local official records, such as Guangdong Tong Zhi (General Chronicle of Guangdong), Qiongzhou Fu Zhi (Chronicle of Qiongzhou Prefecture) and Wanzhou Zhi (Chronicle of Wanzhou), contain in the section on "territory" or "geography, mountains and waters" a statement that "Wanzhou covers 'Qianlichangsha' and 'Wanlishitang'" or something similar.
21. The successive Chinese governments have marked Nanhai Zhudao as Chinese territory on official maps, such as the 1755 Tian Xia Zong Yu Tu (General Map of Geography of the All-under-heaven) of the Huang Qing Ge Zhi Sheng Fen Tu (Map of the Provinces Directly under the Imperial Qing Authority), the 1767 Da Qing Wan Nian Yi Tong Tian Xia Tu (Map of the Eternally Unified All-under-heaven of the Great Qing Empire), the 1810 Da Qing Wan Nian Yi Tong Di Li Quan Tu (Map of the Eternally Unified Great Qing Empire) and the 1817 Da Qing Yi Tong Tian Xia Quan Tu (Map of the Unified All-under-heaven of the Great Qing Empire).
22. Historical facts show that the Chinese people have all along taken Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters as a ground for living and production, where they have engaged in exploration and exploitation activities in various forms. The successive Chinese governments have exercised jurisdiction over Nanhai Zhudao in a continuous, peaceful and effective manner. In the course of history, China has established sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao and relevant rights and interests in the South China Sea. The Chinese people have long been the master of Nanhai Zhudao.
ii. China has always been resolute in upholding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea
23. China's sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao had never been challenged before the 20th century. When France and Japan invaded and illegally occupied by force some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao in the 1930s and 1940s, the Chinese people rose to fight back strenuously and the Chinese government took a series of measures to defend China's sovereignty over Nansha Qundao.
24. In 1933, France invaded some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao and declared "occupation" of them in an announcement published in Journal Officiel, creating the "Incident of the Nine Islets". The French aggression triggered strong reactions and large scale protests from all walks of life across China. The Chinese fishermen living on Nansha Qundao also took on-site resistance against the French aggression. Chinese fishermen Fu Hongguang, Ke Jiayu, Zheng Landing and others cut down the posts flying French flags on Taiping Dao, Beizi Dao, Nanwei Dao, Zhongye Dao and others.
25. Shortly after this Incident happened, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs made clear through its spokesperson, referring to the relevant islands of Nansha Qundao, that "no other people but Chinese fishermen live on the islands and they are recognized internationally as Chinese territory". The Chinese government made strong representations to the French government against its aggression. And in response to the French attempt to trick Chinese fishermen into hanging French flags, the government of Guangdong Province instructed that administrators of all counties should issue public notice forbidding all Chinese fishing vessels operating in Nansha Qundao and relevant waters from hanging foreign flags, and Chinese national flags were distributed to them to be hung on Chinese fishing vessels.
26. China's Committee for the Examination for the Land and Sea Maps, which was composed of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of the Navy and other institutions, reviewed and approved the names of individual islands, reefs, banks and shoals of Nanhai Zhudao, compiled and published Zhong Guo Nan Hai Ge Dao Yu Tu (Map of the South China Sea Islands of China) in 1935.
27. Japan invaded and illegally occupied Nanhai Zhudao during its war of aggression against China. The Chinese people fought heroically against the Japanese aggression. With the advance of the World's Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, China, the United States and the United Kingdom solemnly demanded in the Cairo Declaration in December 1943 that all the territories Japan had stolen from the Chinese shall be restored to China. In July 1945, China, the United States and the United Kingdom issued the Potsdam Proclamation. That Proclamation explicitly declares in Article 8: "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out."
28. In August 1945, Japan announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation and its unconditional surrender. In November and December 1946, the Chinese government dispatched Colonel Lin Zun and other senior military and civil officials to Xisha Qundao and Nansha Qundao to resume exercise of authority over these Islands, with commemorative ceremonies held, sovereignty markers re-erected, and troops garrisoned. These officials arrived at these islands on four warships, namely Yongxing, Zhongjian, Taiping and Zhongye. Subsequently, the Chinese government renamed four islands of Xisha Qundao and Nansha Qundao after the names of those four warships.
29. In March 1947, the Chinese government established on Taiping Dao Nansha Qundao Office of Administration and placed it under the jurisdiction of Guangdong Province. China also set up a meteorological station and a radio station on Taiping Dao, which started broadcasting meteorological information in June of that year.
30. On the basis of a new round of geographical survey of Nanhai Zhudao, the Chinese government commissioned in 1947 the compilation of Nan Hai Zhu Dao Di Li Zhi Lüe (A Brief Account of the Geography of the South China Sea Islands), reviewed and approved Nan Hai Zhu Dao Xin Jiu Ming Cheng Dui Zhao Biao (Comparison Table on the Old and New Names of the South China Sea Islands), and drew Nan Hai Zhu Dao Wei Zhi Tu (Location Map of the South China Sea Islands) on which the dotted line is marked. In February 1948, the Chinese government officially published Zhong Hua Min Guo Xing Zheng Qu Yu Tu (Map of the Administrative Districts of the Republic of China) including Nan Hai Zhu Dao Wei Zhi Tu (Location Map of the South China Sea Islands).
31. In June 1949, the Chinese government promulgated Hai Nan Te Qu Xing Zheng Zhang Guan Gong Shu Zu Zhi Tiao Li (Regulations on the Organization of the Office of the Chief Executive of the Hainan Special District), which placed Hainan Dao, Dongsha Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and some other islands under the jurisdiction of the Hainan Special District.
32. Since its founding on 1 October 1949, the People's Republic of China has repeatedly reiterated and further upheld its sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao and relevant rights and interests in the South China Sea by measures such as adopting legislations, establishing administration and making diplomatic representations. China has never ceased carrying out activities such as patrolling and law enforcement, resources development and scientific survey on Nanhai Zhudao and in the South China Sea.
33. In August 1951, Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai, in his Statement on the United States-British Draft Peace Treaty with Japan and the San Francisco Conference, pointed out that "as a matter of fact, just like all the Nan Sha Islands, Chung Sha Islands and Tung Sha Islands, Si Sha Islands (the Paracel Islands) and Nan Wei Island (Spratly Island) have always been China's territory, occupied by Japan for some time during the war of aggression waged by Japanese imperialism, they were all taken over by the then Chinese Government, following Japan's surrender", "Whether or not the United States-British Draft Treaty contains provisions on this subject and no matter how these provisions are worded, the inviolable sovereignty of the People's Republic of China over Nan Wei Island (Spratly Island) and Si Sha Islands (the Paracel Islands) will not be in any way affected."
34. In September 1958, China promulgated the Declaration of the Government of the People's Republic of China on China's Territorial Sea, explicitly providing that the breadth of China's territorial sea shall be twelve nautical miles, that the straight baselines method shall be employed to determine the baselines of territorial sea and that such provisions shall apply to all territories of the People's Republic of China, including "Dongsha Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and all the other islands belonging to China".
35. In March 1959, the Chinese government set up, on Yongxing Dao of Xisha Qundao, the Office of Xisha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and Zhongsha Qundao. In March 1969, the Office was renamed the Revolutionary Committee of Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao and Nansha Qundao of Guangdong Province. In October 1981, the name of the Office of Xisha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and Zhongsha Qundao was restored.
36. In April 1983, China Committee on Geographical Names was authorized to publish 287 standard geographical names for part of Nanhai Zhudao.
37. In May 1984, the Sixth National People's Congress decided at its Second Session to establish the Hainan Administrative District with jurisdiction over Xisha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and Zhongsha Qundao and the relevant maritime areas, among others.
38. In April 1988, the Seventh National People's Congress decided at its First Session to establish Hainan Province with jurisdiction over Xisha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and Zhongsha Qundao and the relevant maritime areas, among others.
39. In February 1992, China promulgated the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, establishing China's basic system of territorial sea and contiguous zone. This Law explicitly states: "The land territory of the People's Republic of China includes […] Dongsha Qundao; Xisha Qundao; Zhongsha Qundao; Nansha Qundao; as well as all the other islands belonging to the People's Republic of China." In May 1996, the Standing Committee of the Eighth National People's Congress made the decision at its Nineteenth Session to ratify UNCLOS, and at the same time declared that, "The People's Republic of China reaffirms its sovereignty over all its archipelagoes and islands as listed in Article 2 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone which was promulgated on 25 February 1992."
40. In May 1996, the Chinese government announced the baselines of the part of the territorial sea adjacent to the mainland which are composed of all the straight lines joining the 49 adjacent base points from Gaojiao of Shandong to Junbijiao of Hainan Dao, as well as the baselines of the territorial sea adjacent to Xisha Qundao which are composed of all the straight lines joining the 28 adjacent base points, and declared it would announce the remaining baselines of the territorial sea at another time.
41. In June 1998, China promulgated the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf, establishing China's basic system of exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. This Law explicitly states: "The provisions in this Law shall not affect the historic rights that the People's Republic of China enjoys."
42. In June 2012, the State Council approved the abolition of the Office of Xisha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and Zhongsha Qundao and the simultaneous establishment of prefecture-level Sansha City with jurisdiction over Xisha Qundao, Nansha Qundao and Zhongsha Qundao and the relevant waters.
43. China attaches great importance to ecological and fishery resource preservation in the South China Sea. In 1999, China began to enforce summer fishing moratorium in the South China Sea and has done so since that time. By the end of 2015, China had established six national aquatic biological nature reserves and six such reserves at provincial level, covering a total area of 2.69 million hectares, as well as seven national aquatic germplasm resources conservation areas with a total area of 1.28 million hectares.
44. Since the 1950s, the Taiwan authorities of China have maintained a military presence on Taiping Dao of Nansha Qundao. For a long time, they have also maintained civil service and administration bodies and carried out natural resources development on the island.
iii. China's sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao is widely acknowledged in the international community
45. After the end of the Second World War, China recovered and resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao. Many countries recognize that Nanhai Zhudao are part of China's territory.
46. In 1951, it was decided at the San Francisco Peace Conference that Japan would renounce all right, title and claim to Nansha Qundao and Xisha Qundao. In 1952, the Japanese government officially stated that it had renounced all right, title, and claim to Taiwan, Penghu, as well as Nansha Qundao and Xisha Qundao. In the same year, Xisha Qundao and Nansha Qundao, which Japan renounced under the San Francisco Peace Treaty, together with Dongsha Qundao and Zhongsha Qundao, were all marked as belonging to China on the 15th map, Southeast Asia, of the Standard World Atlas recommended by the then Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuo Okazaki with his signature.
47. In October 1955, the International Civil Aviation Organization held a conference in Manila, which was attended by representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines, the authorities from South Vietnam and China's Taiwan authorities. The Filipino and French representatives served as chair and vice chair respectively. It was requested in Resolution No. 24 adopted at the conference that China's Taiwan authorities should enhance meteorological observation on Nansha Qundao, and no opposition or reservation was registered.
48. On 4 September 1958, the Chinese government promulgated the Declaration of the Government of the People's Republic of China on China's Territorial Sea, proclaiming a twelve-nautical-mile territorial sea breadth, and stipulating that, "This provision applies to all territories of the People's Republic of China, including [...] Dongsha Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao, Nansha Qundao, and all other islands belonging to China." On 14 September, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong of the Vietnamese government sent a diplomatic note to Zhou Enlai, Premier of the State Council of China, solemnly stating that "the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam recognizes and supports the declaration of the government of the People's Republic of China on its decision concerning China's territorial sea made on 4 September 1958" and "the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam respects this decision."
49. In August 1956, First Secretary Donald E. Webster of the United States institution in Taiwan made an oral request to China's Taiwan authorities for permission for the United States military personnel to conduct geodetic survey in Huangyan Dao, Shuangzi Qunjiao, Jinghong Dao, Hongxiu Dao and Nanwei Dao of Zhongsha Qundao and Nansha Qundao. China's Taiwan authorities later approved the above request.
50. In December 1960, the United States government sent a letter to China's Taiwan authorities to "request permission be granted" for its military personnel to carry out survey at Shuangzi Qunjiao, Jinghong Dao and Nanwei Dao of Nansha Qundao. China's Taiwan authorities approved this application.
51. In 1972, Japan reiterated its adherence to the terms of Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation in the Joint Communiqué of the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Japan.
52. It was reported by AFP that, on 4 February 1974, the then Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik stated that, "si nous regardons les cartes actuelles, elles montrent que les deux archipels des Paracels [Xisha Qundao] et des Spratleys [Nansha Qundao] appartiennent à la Chine", and that because we recognize the existence of only one China, "cela signifie que, pour nous, ces archipels appartiennent à la République populaire de Chine".
53. The 14th Assembly of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, held from 17 March to 1 April 1987, deliberated on the Global Sea-Level Observing System Implementation Plan 1985-1990 (IOC/INF-663 REV) submitted by the Commission's Secretariat. The Plan integrated Xisha Qundao and Nansha Qundao into the Global Sea-Level Observing System, and explicitly listed these two Islands under "People's Republic of China". For the implementation of this Plan, the Chinese government was commissioned to build five marine observation stations, including one on Nansha Qundao and one on Xisha Qundao.
54. Nanhai Zhudao have long been widely recognized by the international community as part of China's territory. The encyclopedias, yearbooks and maps published in many countries mark Nansha Qundao as belonging to China. For example this is done in, among others, the 1960 Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations by the Worldmark Press published in the United States, the 1966 New China Yearbook by the Far Eastern Booksellers published in Japan; the Welt-Atlas published in 1957, 1958 and 1961 in the Federal Republic of Germany, the 1958 Atlas Zur Erd-Und Länderkunde and the 1968 Haack Großer Weltatlas published in the German Democratic Republic, the Atlas Mira from 1954 to 1959 and the 1957 Administrativno-territorialnoe Delenie Zarubezhnyh Stran published in the Soviet Union, the 1959 Világatlasz and the 1974 Képes Politikai és Gazdasági Világatlasz published in Hungary, the 1959 Malý Atlas Svĕta published in Czechoslovakia, the 1977 Atlas Geografic Scolar published in Romania, the 1965 Atlas international Larousse politique et économique, the 1969 Atlas moderne Larousse published by Libraire Larousse in France, the maps in the 1972 and 1983 World Encyclopedia, the 1985 Grand Atlas World by Heibon Sha, and the 1980 Sekai to Sono Kunikuni published by Japan Geographic Data Center in Japan.