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Paracel Islands belong to Vietnam

– Leaders of AUKUS and the Quad
– United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres
– Permanent Court of Arbitration Secretary-General Marcin Czepelak

January 19, 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of China’s military invasion of Vietnam’s Paracel Islands. This illegal occupation has never been recognized by the international community nor accepted by the Vietnamese people.

The Paracel archipelago (quần đảo Hoàng Sa), located off the eastern coast of Vietnam, was regularly visited by fishermen and official expeditions during the Nguyễn dynasty which claimed these islands. 

During the early 20th century, the Paracels were occupied by France, the then colonial power in Vietnam. At the 1951 San Francisco conference on the Treaty of Peace with Japan, representatives of the State of Vietnam re-affirmed Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels. In 1955, the Republic of Vietnam stationed troops at Pattle Island, the largest of the Crescent group in the Paracels, in recognition of its territorial claims. 

On January 19, 1974, military forces from the People’s Republic of China attacked the Vietnamese garrison and in the ensuing naval battle 74 Vietnamese soldiers and sailors gave their lives. The Republic of Vietnam officially protested to the United Nations, but the PRC used its veto in the UN Security Council to block any debate.

We hereby affirm:

  1. The People’s Republic of China violated international law when it seized the Paracel Islands from Vietnam. Under the UN Charter, all member states must resolve their disputes peacefully and force cannot be used to change borders.
  2. China’s continued illegal occupation of the Paracel Islands is a threat to international peace, freedom of navigation, and Vietnamese fishermen. In recent years, Beijing has used its military occupation on the Paracels to harass Vietnamese fishermen and help justify its outlandish claims on the South China Sea.
  3. The present government of Vietnam must take concrete actions to assert Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels and the adjoining waters, including: (i) condemning China’s occupation at ASEAN meetings and in the UN General Assembly and (ii) filing a case against Beijing at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
  4. The international community can uphold international law by recognizing Vietnamese sovereignty over the Paracels, discussing this issue in the UN Security Council, and demanding China to cease harassing Vietnamese fishermen operating in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone or international waters.
  5. For five decades, Vietnamese and supporters of international law have denounced China’s illegal invasion of the Paracels. We are prepared to do so for another five decades — until the Paracels are reunited with the motherland.


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