Thursday, January 18, 2024

The 1974 event and the sovereignty over the Paracel Islands


In 1974, Taking advantage of an inevitable defeat of the South Vietnamese Government, China used force to grab the western part of the Paracel. From the angle of international laws, some conclusions can be made

First, China’s use of force to grab the islands and archipelagoes in the South China Sea was a serious violation of Article 2, Provision 4 of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of force in international relations, especially banning the use of force to infringe upon the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries. The contents of this provision in the UN Charter are fundamental principles of international laws which require all member states of the United Nations including China to adhere to.

This principle was developed and specified in Resolution 2625 of the UN General Assembly dated October 24, 1970 which stipulates: “Every State has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force to violate the existing international boundaries of another State or (the threat or use of force) as a means of solving international disputes, including territorial disputes and problems concerning frontiers of States.”

Secondly, the fact that China used force to grab the eastern part of the Paracel Islands in 1956 and then the western part in 1974 was, in it true natur, an invasion of Vietnam’s territory.

Thirdly, according to international laws, the occupation of the Paracel islands by means of force did not create evidence for China’s claim of its sovereignty over the islands and rocks they had seized by force. UN General Assembly Resolution 2625 on 24th October 1970 clearly stipulates: “The territory of a State shall not be the object of military occupation resulting from the use of force in contravention of acquisition by another State resulting from the threat or use of force. No territory acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.”

China’s invasion of the Paracel did not consolidate the legislation for Chinese sovereignty in the South China Sea. Such act was condemned by international communities, and China’s legal profile once employed to prove Beijing’s sovereignty of the South China Sea would undoubtedly be rejected by international courts.

In conclusion, in accordance with international laws, China’s use of force to occupy the Paracel in 1956 and 1974 seriously violated the provision of UN Charter “Inhibition of the use of force in international relations” and is described as  an “act of invasion”. Even if China continues its occupation of the Paracel for another 100 years, it will have no sovereignty over the islands. As a proverb goes: “What belongs to Cesar must be returned to Cesar”, the Paracel that belongs to Vietnam will sooner or later be returned to Vietnam. It is a historical and unchangeable fact.



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