Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Paracel-Spratly dispute: No room for misinterpretation

Đọc bài trên tờ China Daily của cái tay nhà nghiên cứu Ling Dequan làm tôi thấy bực mình vì tính khiếm nhã và ngụy biện. Vì thế tôi đã viết vài dòng để trước là giải toả lồng ngực :-) và sau là giải thích cho tác giả thấy sự vô lí trong bài. Tôi đã bài viết dưới đây cho China Daily, nhưng tôi không hi vọng báo của Tàu cộng sẽ đăng. Vì vậy gửi lên đây để chia sẻ cùng các bạn một cách phản bác nó. 



I feel, reluctantly, that I should take issue with the ravings of Mr. Ling Dequan in his article, “The truth about the sea dispute” (1), in which, he argues that the communication of the late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong to Zhou Enlai was a statement of support for China’s claims to islands and reefs in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. The argument is flawed, because the author misapprehends the legal value of the communication and the real sovereignty of the archipelagos.

Ling Dequan correctly points out that the communication that the late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong sent to Zhou Enlai was a “note”. The note is a private communication between two individuals, and can not in any way be considered a formal government statement. Thus, Dequan’s reading of the note as a statement of support for China’s sovereignty claims on  Paracel and Spratly archipelagos is an inappropriate overinterpretation.

Indeed, China’s claims are not recognized by major countries in the world. For instance, in 1996 China issued a "Declaration on the Baselines of the Territorial Sea" which established straight baselines for the Paracel Islands. However, these claims were not (and still are not) recognized by the United States.

It is important to stress that in 1958, there were two internationally-recognized governments in Vietnam: The Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north, and the Republic of Vietnam in the south. The Paracel and Spratly archipelagos were under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Vietnam. Therefore, the note by Mr. Pham Van Dong had neither legal value nor diplomatic meaning -- whatsoever.

More importantly, Ling Dequan fails to acknowledge the fact that prior to 1954 Vietnam was the formal administrator of the Paracel and Spratly islands, and that China used force to invade and occupy Paracel in 1974 and Spratly in 1988. The Chinese invasion is likened to an act of piracy. Surely, at the time of invasion the Chinese was not considering the note of Pham Van Dong.

I came away feeling sorry for Ling Dequan who is described as a “researcher” of the Research Center of World Issues. It is clear that Dequan has failed to convince readers that he has the quality of a serious researcher.  Of course, it is possible that as an employee of a center associated with the Xinhua News Agency, Dequan might have to sacrifice his scientific integrity to pen down something that he does not necessarily believe in, and that is a shame.
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