Academic: Sovereignty over islands in SCS Based on Historical Occupation

Photo creds: Lajia Ruins Museum, located in northwest Qinghai province, preserves the largest disaster excavation site in China [Credit: CNS]

Chen Jinguo of the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)  says “Claims of sovereignty over the islands are based on historical occupation and so some countries have destroyed religious sites and added ‘historical’ features of their own.”

“Claims of sovereignty over the islands are based on historical occupation and so some countries have destroyed religious sites and added ‘historical’ features of their own.”

According to Chen’s thesis published in Religious Cultures of the World, “[the] Chinese people [have] built a lot of religious sites on the islands, their most important cultural features and the centers of fishermen’s everyday life.” The Chinese expert presents four years worth of historical documents, archeological findings, and photographs.

Various Chinese websites present the Dongsha/Pratas/Nishizawa Islands as an example.

Pratas/Dongsha/Nishizawa Islands

The Pratas Islands, also known as the Dongsha Islands, are an atoll in the north of the South China Sea consisting of three islets. They are about 340 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong. The islands are claimed by the People’s Republic of China. However, they are controlled by the Republic of China (Taiwan). Pratas Island—is the largest of the South China Sea Islands group.

Pratas is derived from the Portuguese Ilhas das Pratas (“Silver Plate Islands”), which was given to the atoll in the 16th century owing to its round shape. On the otherhand, Dongsha is the pinyin of the Chinese name Dōngshā Qúndǎo(t 東沙群島, s 东沙群岛), meaning “Eastern Sandy Archipelago”.

According to the ChinaPost, a Taiwan based news outfit, “[China] started developing [the islands] during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Qing China made the islets part of its territory in 1730.”

“In 1908-1909 a Japanese businessman named Nishizawa Yoshizi (西澤吉次) established a guano collecting station, destroyed the Dawang Joss House (大王庙), and dug up graves and poured the bone ashes of Chinese fishermen into the sea there, and renamed the atoll ‘Nishizawa Island’, but after a diplomatic confrontation, Chinese sovereignty was re-established, and Nishizawa withdrew, after being compensated by the Guangdong provincial government, and after paying compensation for the destruction of a Chinese fishermen’s shrine,” Edward Rhoads, China’s Republican Revolution: the case of Kwangtung, 1895-1913 (Harvard University Press, 1975), pp. 140-141.

“In 1908-1909 a Japanese businessman named Nishizawa Yoshizi (西澤吉次) established a guano collecting station, destroyed the Dawang Joss House (大王庙), and dug up graves and poured the bone ashes of Chinese fishermen into the sea.”

“Religious sites in the South China Sea signify Chinese people’s efforts to develop the area,” Chen Jinguo says.

“China [should] pay more attention to rebuilding and protecting religious sites on some islands and developing traditional folk activities to uphold territorial and cultural sovereignty,” he adds.

 

[Author’s note: No links, references, or excerpts to the aforementioned “published” thesis can be found in the Internet.]

 

Sources:


  1. Chinese expert discusses religious sites on South China Sea islands 
  2. Wikipedia: Pratas Islands
  3. Sovereignty over the Spratly Islands

About the Author

Amang Laya
Amang Laya
Amang Laya is the South China Sea News Today's contributor-at-large. He is a graduate of the University of the Philippines. He spends his days monitoring the latest news and views on the South China Sea Dispute.

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