Chinese Aggression of Paracels condemned by the world



The Paracels Archipelago is a group of small islands off the coast of Central VN, about 180 miles East of Da Nang, between longitudes 111-113 degrees East Greewich and latitudes 15 degrees 15' - 17 degrees 5' North.

Islands of the archipelago are divided into two groups: The Tuyen Duc Group (Amphitrite) composed of 9 main islands and the Nguyet Thiem Group (Croissant) composed of 7 islands.

The Nguyet Thiem Group consists of Cam Tuyen (Robert), Hoang Sa (Pattle), Duy Mong (Drummond), Quang Hoa (Duncan), Vinh Lac (Money), Bach Quy (Passu Keah), Tri Ton (Triton) islands and a number of isles, or more exactly, unnamed coral reefs.

Following are descriptions of the most important islands in the Nguyet Thiem Group.

- Hoang Sa Island (Pattle) is considered the most important, being built up by coral. Around the island there is a great deal of coral and underwater rocks which cause navigational difficulties to the ships. The area of the island is about 1.35 square miles (864 acres) with all but 58 square miles (370 acres) inundated. This part of the island is 20 feet above sea level, composed of rocks and undergrowth. To land people on the island, ships or large boats must anchor about 100 yards offshore then use small boats to approach. There is about 1 million tons of phosphate on the island.

-The Cam Tuyen Island (Robert) is approximately 2 miles to the South-West of Hoang Sa, with a surface of 380 acres covered with undergrowth and rocks. On the island there is an iron bridge and an earth road serviceable for trucks. In the middle of the island there is a swamp. The quantity of phosphate is from 657,000 tons to 1,000,000 tons, according to documents from the Directorate General of Mineral and Industry.

-The Vinh Lac Island (Money) is also composed of coral, but among the group, has the most vegetation and birds. The island is 20 feet above sea level surrounded by sand bars and solid coral reefs. The terrain is not favorable for ship. The quantity of phosphate on the island is from 787,000 to 1,200,000 tons.

-Quang Hoa Island (Duncan) consists of a large island and a small one, linked together by a strip of sand. On the part of the island that emerges 15 feet above sea level, there are many rocks and sand bars. The importance of Quang Hoa in Nguyet Thiem Group is not too much less than Hoang Sa’s.

-Duy Mong Island (Drummond) is the most special one in the group because it has a small canal thru which large boats may approach the shore, although the coral belt around the island is larger than the adjacent islands. The island is 15 feet above sea level. The quantity of phosphate on the island is about 700,000 tons.

Earlier the Nguyet Thiem group was the mouth of a volcano with a surface area of about 4 square miles, covered with rock, yellow sand bars and undergrowth. Due to the perilous and unfavorable terrain, there is no population on the islands.

In the military aspect, this group of islands is on the international sea lane, it has a significant strategic position. According to military experts, the Paracels Archipelago is the control center for sea traffic on the South China Sea.

In the economic aspect, the Paracels Archipelago contains rich resources in sea and mineral products. Because it is the mouth of a volcano, this area has many kinds of exquisite escargots. In addition, there are also various types of seaweed that can be processed into food, various types of tortoise, turtle and birds eggs.

People from the mainland usually come to the islands to gather bird eggs, swallow nests, to hunt turtles, tortoises and ducks. The chief mineral product on the island is phosphate made up of bird soil mixed with limestone of the coral. According to Mr. E. Saorain in his book “Archives Geologiques du Vietnam”, the total quantity of phosphate that may be exploited on the Paracels Archipelago is over ten million tons. During the period from 1925 to 1933 the Japanese came to the Paracels Archipelago to exploit bird soil. In 1959, the Vietnamese Fertilizer Company also came there to exploit about 20 thousand tons of phosphate.


Vietnam was the first country to discover and establish sovereignty on the Paracels.

According to the book “Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi” (History of South Country) printed in 1908, Emperor Gia Long activated the Hoang Sa Group to control and exploit this archipelago. In 1834, under Emperor Minh Mang, the archipelago was included in maps printed in the book “Hoang Viet Dia Du” (Geography of Hoang Viet) published by the Hue Imperial Court.

In 1836 of Emperor Minh Mang reign, Mr. Pham Huu Nhat, commissioned as a Naval Officer, went to the archipelago to measure, survey the position and draw a map of the islands.

Under the French Colonialization, the Governor General of Indochina signed the Decree 156 SG on June 15, 1932 organizing the Paracels Archipelago into administrative units which were merged with Thua Thien Province. This fact was confirmed in Ordinance 10 on March 30, 1938 by Emperor Bao Dai.

Thereafter, Decree 3281 on May 5, 1939 of the French Governor General of Indochina amended the above mentioned decree and divided this domain into two groups: The Nguyet Thiem (Croissant) and the Amphitrite (Tuyen Duc) groups. The representatives of these two groups positioned themselves on Hoang Sa (Pattle) and Phu Lam (Boisee) islands. On July 13, 1961, under the First Republic, the President of the Republic of Vietnam issued the Decree No. 174 NV placing the Archipelago under the command of Quang Nam Province and renamed it Dinh Hai Village of Hoa Vang District.

In the international legal aspect, all of the 51 countries attending the San Francisco Conference in 1951 recognized the Republic of Vietnam sovereignty over the Paracels Archipelago.

Also, in 1951, when Vietnam attended the conference for peace treaty with Japan, the Paracels Archipelago, which had been occupied by the Japanese, was turned over to Vietnam.

In the practical aspect, RVN has aleays stationed troops and administered the Paracels following Decision 4762/CP dated 21 December 1937 and Decree 143/NV dated 20 October 1957. The Vietnamese Navy has regularly patrolled the area to insure security for territorial waters.

Regional Force Troops have been regularly stationed on the Paracels Archipelago and a Weather Station staffed with permanent personnel has been operational since 1939.

In short, in every aspect, legally as well as geographically, no one can deny the fact that the Paracels Archipelago is an indivisible part of RVN territory.

Map 1 : Map of Vietnam with Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratley) Archipelagos.

Map 2 : Maps of Nguyet Thiem (Croissant) group, Paracel Archipelago.


In the evening of January 15, 1974, a Chinese Communist fishing boat unloaded men to plant a flag and erect tents on Robert Island of the Paracel Archipelago. A Republic of Vietnam warship used light signals to ask them to leave without effect.

In the morning of January 16, 1974, Vietnamese naval forces operating in the area of the Paracel Archipelago detected 2 Chinese Communist gunboats sailing around Drummond Island.

In the morning of January 17, 1974, 31 armed Vietnamese sailors landed on Robert Island but found only one Chinese Communist flag and one wooden marker with Chinese inscriptions. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Navy spotted 2 Chinese Communist warships anchored South of Robert Island, but these two ships later moved to another position.

At dusk of the same day, 2 Chinese Communist warships appeared near Duncan Island and moved toward Robert Island. They used light signals to ask our ships to leave “their” waters but the Vietnamese ships remained in the same position. The Chinese ships, then, left.

At 7:40 P.M. on the same day, an unidentified airplane flew over the Vietnamese ship HQ 4 and disappeared South West.

No incident occurred the next day but the Chinese Communist ships continued their provocation.

As of January 19, 1974, Red China had 14 warships in the area of the Paracel Archipelago including 4 missile ships of the Komar type. Moreover, unidentified aircraft appeared at dawn and disappeared North.

From January 18 until the morning of January 19, Chinese Communist ships stepped up their acts of provocation by ramming into the Vietnamese ships while our ships did their best to avoid collision.

At 8:30 A.M. on January 19, 1974, 2 Navy Commando teams of the RVNAF including 74 men landed on Duncan Island and were attacked by more than a company of Red Chinese troops. The clash resulted in 2 of our soldiers killed and others wounded. Then the Commando teams received orders to withdraw from the island.

At 10:22 A.M. on the same day, one Chinese Communist escort ship of the Kronstadt type rammed into and fired at the Tran Khanh Du destroyer while it was operating near Duncan Island. The Vietnamese ship returned fire and sank the Chinese escort vessel while our ship suffered light damage.

At noon, the two sides ceased fighting. Our ships assembled near the islands West of the Paracels Archipelago and 30 sailors landed on Robert and Money Islands. Meanwhile, on Parrle Island, there was already a Regional Force platoon of Quang Nam sector and 4 members of the Meterological Station who were stationed there long ago.

During the night of the same day, the three damaged Vietnamese ships received orders to return to the Da Nang Naval Base.

During the battle on January 19, the Vietnamese escort ship HQ 10 was hit and badly damaged by a Red Chinese Styx missile. All contact was lost with the ship and its 82 man-crew.

At 10:20 A.M. on January 20, 1974, 4 Red Chinese MIG 21 and 23 aircraft strafed Pattle, Robert and Money Islands. The strike was followed by the landing on these islands of Chinese Communist troops who immediately attacked our units. After 20 minutes of fighting, contact was lost with the Vietnamese forces due to destroyed communication radios. Four Vietnamese ships still operating at sea, including one escort ship and 3 patrol boats, were hit and damaged.

After the gallant naval battle between the Republic of Vietnam Navy and the Chinese Communist force, casualties on both sides were:



- 1 totally damaged

- 1 heavily damaged burned and sunk.

- 2 lightly damaged

- 2 others heavily damaged.


- 19 killed, 43 wounded Unknown and 101 missing



- 1 ship of the Kronstadt type burned and sunk.

- 1 ship heavily damaged and ran aground before exploding.

- 2 others heavily damaged.



At 6:30 P.M. on January 22, 1974, the Holland merchant ship Kipionella rescued 23 crew members of the escort ship HQ 10, which was sunk on January 19, 1974, 175 miles East of Da Nang.

The next morning the rescued men were transferred to the Vietnamese ship HQ 6 – Among them were 2 killed (including 1 Navy Lieutenant, Assistant Commander of the ship HQ 10) and 2 wounded.

At noon on January 29, 1974, Vietnamese fishermen rescued 15 other Navymen including 1 officer, 2 non-commissioned officers and 12 sailors, 35 miles East of Mui Yen (Qui Nhon). All fifteen men were part of the landing team on Money Island.

Of the 48 Vietnamese soldiers detained by Communist China, 5 were released, including 2 Regional Force soldiers, 1 Engineer soldier, 1 seaman and 1 civilian of the Meteorological Station. The release was in Hong Kong on January 31, 1974. The five released men flew back to Saigon on a special plane where they arrived at 3:30 P.M. and received a warm welcome.

The remaining 43 men returned to Saigon on February 17, 1974 and were warmly greeted by civic groups and people of the Capital.

* Typed and sent by Truc Le


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