The South China Sea islands are an inherent part of the Chinese territory. The Chinese people were the first to discover the South China Sea islands and to explore and exploit resources on the South China Sea islands and in relevant waters, and the Chinese Government was the first - and has continued - to exercise sovereign rights over them. Chinese documents throughout the ages and relevant documents of Western countries contain considerable records of Chinese people's producting activities and life on Xiasha and Nansha Islands. In the past, Chinese people's producting activities and life on the South China Sea islands could hardly be known through material objects to the world because of the great distance of these islands, of Nansha Islands in particular, from Chinese mainland. The 20th-century discovery by Chinese archaeologists on multiple expeditions to Xisha and Nansha Islands of a lot of historical remains there is a full testament to the fact that Chinese people had lived and engaged in producting activities on the South China Sea islands throughout the ages. The Chinese people are indisputably the real owner of the South China Sea islands.
Beginning in the late 1920s, antiquities were discovered in succession on the South China Sea islands. Following the end of World War II, with Xisha and Nansha Islands returned to China from the Japanese invaders' hands, the Chinese Government and archaeologists ramped up archaeological investigation and research into the South China Sea islands, leading to the discovery of considerable traces of ancient Chinese's producting activities and life there - including not only copper coins used as currency from the Chinese Qin and Han dynasties through modern times, but also remains of Chinese people's production and residence on these islands.
During the investigations, archaeological discoveries on Ganquan Dao of Xisha Islands included the ruins of houses dating back to Chinese Tang and Song dynasties, more than 50 objects of pottery and porcelain for everyday use, such production tools as iron knives and chisels, iron pan fragments, taupe pottery pestle scraps dating from Song Dynasty, as well as such artifacts as Ming Dynasty coins. Chinese porcelain ware of the Ming and Qing dynasties were excavated on the Yongxing Dao, Quanfu Dao, Bei Dao and other islands and reefs. On the Chenhang Dao, Bei Dao and other islands and reefs, sacrificial relics left over by Chinese people since the Ming Dynasty were discovered, including 13 small temples such as Earth God Temple, Brothers Temple (Temple of Lonely Souls), Goddess Temple, Yellow Sand Temple, and Stone Temple.
On Taiping Dao of Nansha Islands, the traces were discovered of Chinese people living there from the late Ming to the mid-Qing dynasty, including porcelains, iron nails, flints, remains of animals (birds, turtles, shellfish, etc.), as well as the ruins of gravestones of boatmen of the Qing Dynasty. On the Zhenghe Reefs, archaeological discoveries included pottery scraps and Wuzhu Cash coins from the period of the Qin, Han and Six Dynasties, coins from the Tang Dynasty, products from Fujian folk kilns modeled on Longquan kiln from the Song and Yuan dynasties, products from Guangdong folk kilns of the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as ruins of boatman gravestones, temples and wells from the Qing dynasty. On the Daoming Reef, remains were discovered of pottery from the Six Dynasties period and Jingdezhen blue-and-white porcelain from Ming dynasty. Tang dynasty pottery jars with four ears were discovered at Yongdeng Shoal, and Song Dynasty coins and Qing Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain were unearthed at Fulu Shoal. At Daxian Shoal, remains were discovered of celadon ware from Song and Yuan dynasties and of blue-and-white porcelain from Ming and Qing dynasties. "Xining Zhongbao" coins and the remains of blue-and-white porcelain produced by folk kilns in Fujian and Guangdong Provinces were discovered at Huanglu Reef. Celadon ware from Song and Yuan dynasties and blue-and-white porcelain form Ming and Qing dynasties were excavated at Nantong Reef.
The archaeological discoveries on the South China Sea islands demonstrate that by Tang Dynasty at the latest, Chinese people had settled down on parts of the South China Sea islands, who left behind them household utensils such as porcelain wares, domestic tools like iron knives and chisels, and domestic remnants including bird bones and shells. Chinese fishermen's voyages and production activities at the time were spread all over the waters of Nansha Islands. During Song Dynasty, the South China Sea saw booming foreign trade as a major corridor leading to the outside world. Fleets of ships loaded with Chinese goods like porcelain wares as well as Chinese coins set sail from Fujian, Guangdong and other Chinese coastal regions and navigated the waters of the South China Sea in ocean trade. During Ming and Qing dynasties, the South China Sea also saw a boom in fishing, with fishermen from the Chinese provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan and those who resided on South China Sea islands engaging in such production activities as fishing and aquatic breeding. On many islands and reefs in Xisha and Nansha Islands, there remain ruins of dwellings, wells, temples, graves among other structures that Chinese people had built.
The abundance of archaeological evidence proves that Chinese people were the first to reach the South China Sea and the islands there, where they worked and lived for well over a thousand years. This demonstrates that the Chinese people are the real owner of the South China Sea islands. China has sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the adjacent waters and enjoys relevant rights and interests there based on history.