In 1951, the then Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai asserted that the Huangyan Island in the South China Sea was part of China’s territory.
In its latest fact sheet on the disputed rock formation, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines pointed out that after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the PROC continued to exercise sovereignty over the island.
The mission disclosed that Zhou said in a 1951 statement on the US and United Kingdom’s draft peace treaty with Japan that “the Xisha and Nanwei Islands, just like the Nansha, Zhongsha and Dongsha Islands, have always been China’s territory” although they had been occupied by Japan during World War II.
The embassy maintained that Huangyan Island, being part of the Zhongsha group of islands, “indisputably belongs to China.”
The mission also recalled “in 1983, the Committee on Geographical Names of China was authorized (by Beijing) to publicize the geographical names of selected islands in the South China Sea, in which Huangyan Island was included as the standard name and Minzhu Jiao as its alternative name.”
The Law of the PRC on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, publicized in 1992, explicitly provided in Article 2 that “the land territory of the PRC includes mainland China and its coastal islands; Taiwan and all islands appertaining thereto, including the Diaoyu Islands, the Pengshu Islands, the Dongsha Islands, the Xisha Islands, the Nansha Islands, as well as the Zhongsha Islands,” it said.
The embassy emphasized that “before 1997, the Philippines had never claimed sovereignty over Huangyan Island,” which Manila calls Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal.
“The official maps of the Philippines publicized in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and even 2011 had all marked Huangyan Island outside the boundary of the Philippine territory,” it also stressed.
In addition, the embassy said the Philippine claim that the Huangyan was located within Manila’s 200-mile economic zone was a “misinterpretation and abuse of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
On an old photo carried by Philippine media
In an e-mailed statement, Chinese Embassy spokesperson Zhang Hua said the picture published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer front page on Tuesday was taken in the 1980s when a Chinese ocean expedition team was conducting a survey in the area.
Brushing aside suggestions that the photograph was a projection of Chinese power, Zhang said that China had been sending expeditions to the area since 1977, the latest in 2007.
“I hereby want to reiterate that Huangyan Island is China’s inherent territory. The picture on Inquirer itself only serves to prove, once again, China’s effective administration and sovereignty over Huangyan Island over a long period of time in history,” Zhang said.