Government of South Vietnam never abandoned its unequivocal intention of maintaining its sovereign rights to the two archipelagos.
Various decrees were issuedconcerning the administration of the islands and their incorporation into Vietnam’sterritorial organization.
A decree concerning the Paracels was issued on 13 July 1961(creation of the administrative unit of Dinh Hai),
and a further
decree of 21 October1969 merged Dinh Hai and Hoa Long.The Spratlys were incorporated into Phuoc Tuy Province on 22 October 1956
. Under a decree of 6 September 1973, issued by the Ministry of the Interior of South Vietnam,they
were incorporated into the municipality of Phuoc Hai, in the district of Dat Do,Phuoc Tuy Province.
Meanwhile the Saigon administration lodged protests against China’s conduct on severaloccasions.
of 4 June 1956 reported that theVietnamese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had lodged a protest against adeclaration concerning the islands
made by the spokesman of the Chinese ForeignMinister on 29 May of the same year.
A further protest was lodged on 20 April 1971, this time with Malaysia
, and on thisoccasion Vietnamese sovereignty over the two archipelagos was reasserted by SouthVietnam’s Foreign Ministry.Lastly, in January 1974, following the taking of the Paracels by Chinese forces, theGovernment of the Republic of Vietnam protested to the United Nations,
published apolicy document on the archipelagos and forcefully condemned the unlawful acts of the People’s Republic of China.
The Saigon administration took advantage of thesecond session of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, held inCaracas in June 1974, to reiterate its rights to both archipelagos.We could draw the line here and say that there
is sufficient detail to prove that theintention to act as sovereign is maintained on the part of Vietnam.
The territorialpartition at the 17th parallel placed both archipelagos in South Vietnam’s zone
. Itwas therefore for the Saigon administration,
the Saigon administration alone
, to voiceits claims to the islands. It did so. Moreover, it did so as the successor to the former rightsof France over the two archipelagos, France having itself assumed the succession, at leastin the case of the Paracels, to the rights enjoyed by pre-colonial Vietnam.However, the attitude adopted by the other Vietnamese Governments deserves closescrutiny, since China uses that attitude as an argument.The
Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam(PRG)
adopted a position in 1974 which recognized the existence of a dispute, recallingthat
Sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred issues for all peoples’
and calling for negotiation.
Thus both the Governments which claimed to represent South Vietnam(and which therefore had territorial responsibility for the administration of the