Spratlys is not part of China according to 1904 map

Recently China has been very aggressive against other nations that claim the spratly Islands, Philippines and Vietnam are some of those countries that are being bullied by the Chinese government. They even put a fortress called Sanshi City to guard the Islands they claim.

But I have here a photo from the Shanghai publishing house in 1904. This is the map of all the Chinese provinces they own. And the thing is, I see no Spratly Islands in these map

Dr. Mai Hong, former head of the Library of the Institute for the Study of Chinese and Demotic Scripts and Cultures, has decided to release the historical evidence.

Hong recently interviewed by Tuoi Tre a website from Vietnam and here is what happen.

How did Dr. Mai Hong get this map?

I got this map when I administered a library of Chinese and Demotic Script books (now Institute for the Study of Chinese and Demotic Scripts and Cultures) in 1977. At that time, collecting maps was not our administrative function. However, to my surprise, an elderly man who often sold books to us showed up at our office one day and recommended I buy this map. I spent one month’s salary to purchase it without my family’s knowledge.

Is it a valuable map made a long time ago?
Yes, it is. It’s a color-coded paper map that has a carton-paper cover and can be opened like a book. Inside the map, there are more than 35 pieces – each measured at 20cm wide, 30cm long – stuck on canvas. Because I can read Han-Chinese, I’ve translated about 600 Han-Chinese words into Vietnamese that adequately represents the origin and date of the map.

According to the translation, the map was created across nearly two decades (1708 – 1904), from the Kangxi Emperor who ruled China from 1661 – 1722 to the Guangxu Emperor from 1875 to 1908. The emperors asked many clergymen and gifted astronomers and mathematicians to make this map.

More specifically, in 1708, King Kangxi recruited some western clergymen to draw the map of the Great Wall. In 1711, the King continued to ask the clergymen to survey lands in 13 provinces nationwide. After that, Chinese intellectuals and western clergymen worked together for nearly 200 years to finish this map. Among famous western clergymen helping King Kangxi with the map were Matteo Bicci from Italy, Joannes Adam Schall Von Bell from Germany, and Ferdinandus Verbiest from Belgium.

In 1904, Shanghai Publishing House printed this map and distributed it to all provinces of the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China ruling from 1644 to 1912. The introduction of the map was written by the director of a Chinese observatory.


What is some helpful historical data from this map?

In this map, the director of a Chinese observatory greatly appreciated achievements by western clergymen, who were at the time ahead of China in the field of astronomy and mathematics. As the map indicates, there are no photos, drawings or surveys of Truong Sa or Hoang Sa islands on the map. The Chinese themselves also admitted that Hainan Island was the end of their land to the south.

Photos by: Viet Dung

So it is clear that China was not claiming the Spratlys Islands during that time. They have no Historical, Geological basis of their claims and they should leave those Islands alone.

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