Friday, March 27, 2015, 17:04 (GMT+7)
The Cairo Declaration (1943) and Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Archipelagos
A lighthouse of Vietnam on the Paracel archipelago in the years of the French protectorate 

With the aim of taking back all the islands in the Pacific Ocean that had been occupied by Japan since the beginning of World War I (1914), on November 27th 1943, in Cairo, Egypt, three countries, namely the U.S., the United Kingdom, and the Republic of China held an international conference whose outcome was the Cairo Declaration. It was clearly stated in the Declaration that “Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the first World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China”. According to this statement, Chinese territories in the Pacific Ocean which were restored to the country and internationally recognized are “Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores”, no mention was made of Truong Sa (Spratly Islands) and Hoang Sa.

(Paracel Islands). It is worth noting that, at that time, China was a party to the Conference, but it did not have any reserve or any statement of its own on the restored territories. Two years later (July 26th 1945), in Potsdam Conference, heads of the 3 countries, namely the U.S., the United Kingdom, and the Republic of China, issued another Declaration clearly saying that “all the provisions of the Cairo Declaration must be applied”. This proves the international legal ground of the Cairo Declaration; at the same time, it confirms that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, even in the past time, are not China’s territories.

Meanwhile, right after imposing Vietnam under protectorate, the French Government demanded the French Resident Superior to Annam Le Fol carefully study Annam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. The documents found clearly demonstrated Lords Nguyen and Nguyen Dynasty’s exercise of their sovereignty over the two archipelagos, thus the Government decided to occupy them. In his letter to the French Minister of the Colonies, the Indochina Governor- General Pasquier confirmed that “The French occupation of Hoang Sa in 1931-1932 was on behalf of the King of Annam”. In this case, the only thing France required is the pre-existent exercise of sovereignty which was implemented by “Annam”. As its protector, France represented Annam in its foreign relations so that France could use this right to prevent the third country and receive international judgments recognizing the afore-mentioned rights”. Practically, on March 31st 1939, when Japan announced its annexation of the islands in the East Sea to her occupied territories, France, on April 4th 1939, sent a diplomatic note rejecting Japan’s decision, reserving the rights of Paris in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

To conclude, together with the Cairo Declaration, continuous and peaceful occupation and exercise of sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa further prove Vietnam’s indisputable sovereignty over the two archipelagos.

Van Doanh

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