The China News Service conducted an interview with Mr. Wu Shicun, Dean of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies on 6 May. During the interview, Wu said that the Huangyan Island is China's inherent territory. China's sovereignty over the Huangyan Island is indisputable.
From China's Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD), the Huangyan Island has been under the jurisdiction of successive Chinese governments which have effectively exercised and consolidated sovereignty over the island. This has been never been challenged but widely recognized by the international community for centuries. The Philippines' claim of sovereignty over the Huangyan Island is completely groundless.
The Huangyan Island consists a ring-shaped chain of reefs 0.5-3 meters above the water, encircling a lagoon that is 130 square kilometers broad and 10-20 meters deep. Situated in the important navigation route from Malacca Strait to Taiwan and Bashi Channel in the South China Sea, the Huangyan Island is geographically important and strategically crucial.
Wu Shicun said, according to historical archives, in 1279, Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing was instructed by the royal court to perform a surveying of the seas around China, and the Huangyan Island was the point chosen by him to survey the South China Sea. This shows that China has discovered and started using the Island in Yuan Dynasty or even earlier. By that time though, indigenous people in the Philippines were still living in primitive tribes.
Wu said, the Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters are rich in fishing resources. Chinese fishermen have worked there for generations. The island is also a place used by the Chinese sailing in the South China Sea to rest and take shelter from the wind. The Book on Voyage Routes and other annuals contain a complete record of the sailing routes of Chinese fishermen in the Huangyan Island waters.
Since the Yuan Dynasty, the Chinese have never ceased their activities on the Huangyan Island and its waters to develop and exploit the island. This is a historical fact long been proved in official documents, local archives and maps of China in various historical periods.
In mid 1930s, the Map Verification Committee of China, consisted of members from government departments like the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, declared sovereignty over 132 islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea, among which the Huangyan Island was included into the Chinese territory as part of the Zhongsha Islands.
In 1947, the Chinese government announced a name list of 172 South China Sea Islands, among which the Huangyan Island was named Democratic Reef and was included into the Zhongsha Islands. In 1948, the official map published by China about the South China Sea Islands, the Huangyan Island was put within the traditional maritime boundary of China in the South China Sea.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese government has issued statements and declarations about its sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands, which all made it clear that China owns the territorial sovereignty over the Huangyan Island. The Chinese government has exercised and maintained territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Huangyan Island, which has been under uninterrupted jurisdiction of Guangdong Province and Hainan Province.
In early 1980s, the Chinese government organized a survey of the names of the South China Sea islands, and in 1983, when the China Board on Geographic Names released the Geographic Names of Some of the South China Sea Islands, the Huangyan Island was stipulated the standard name and Democratic Reef the alternative one.
In the Law on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone of the People's Republic of China published in 1992, the Article about territory stipulated that the Huangyan Island is China's territory, thus reaffirming the legal status of the island as part of China.
Wu Shicun stressed, China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and its related claims over the South China Sea have formed and developed in the long annuals of history and have always been upheld by Chinese governments.
China's determination to safeguard territorial sovereignty is firm and steadfast. For years, the Chinese maritime surveillance and fisheries administration ships have patrolled at the island regularly. This not only constitutes legal jurisdiction over the Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters, which are China's territory, but also manifestations of China's exercise of its sovereignty over the island.
(Posted on 6 May 2012 by China News at ECNS.cn.)