Keynote Speech at the Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of China’s Recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands
Wu Shengli, Member of the Central Military Commission, Commander of Chinese PLA Navy
December 8, 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comrades and Friends,
Today, we get together at the Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of China’s Recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands to review the history, enlighten the present, cherish peace, and look forward into the future.
After the great victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, from November to December 1946, China dispatched four warships, Taiping, Yongxing, Zhongjian and Zhongye, under the command of Capt. Lin Zun, with government representatives and specialists on board, recovered the Xisha and Nansha Islands, which had been invaded by Japanese militarists, and held a solemn ceremony to proclaim that China resumed sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha Islands. This event of great historical significance was witnessed by the whole world and remembered by the Chinese people forever. Here, on behalf of all the officers and sailors of the PLA Navy, I would like to pay high tribute to our nation’s forerunners who have made great historical contributions to the recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands, express our heartfelt gratitude to friends at home and overseas who always respect the claims of the Chinese government and concentrate their efforts on the peaceful development in the South China Sea, and extend our warm welcome to all the guests attending the commemoration.
The recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands is the effective restoration of China’s inherent territory. The Xisha and Nansha Islands have been China’s territory since ancient times. As early as in Han Dynasty, in the 2nd century B.C., depending on advanced shipbuilding and navigation technologies, Chinese people sailed in the South China Sea, discovered and named the Xisha and Nansha Islands. In Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, from the 4th century to the 8th century A.D., the Chinese people went fishing around the Xisha and Nansha Islands. Large amount of historical documents record in details the topographical features of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and have vivid description of these people’s production and living. Archaeological studies also have discovered inhabiting relics and living tools of them. In Song Dynasty, more than 1000 years ago, China already established administration on the Xisha and Nansha Islands, sent officials to perform administrative duty, and dispatched naval ships to patrol the South China Sea. In Ming Dynasty, more than 600 years ago, China authorized Qiongzhou of Guangdong province to administrate the Xisha and Nansha Islands. The Geng Lu Bu (The Manual of Sea Routes), passed on by Chinese fishermen from generation to generation, records their activities on the Xisha and Nansha Islands, such as building houses and temples, digging wells, farming and fishing. The China Sea Directory, published by the British Admiralty in 1868 depicts in details the production and living of Chinese fishermen on Nansha Islands. Even in 1909 of late Qing Dynasty, Li Zhun, the Commander of the Guangdong Fleet, led naval vessels to patrol the sea and land the islands. The historical records give hard evidence of China’s development and administration of the Xisha and Nansha Islands, and China’s sovereignty over these islands is indisputable.
The recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands is the major achievement during the anti-aggression war in China. China in modern history, as poor and weak, was bullied by big powers. Statistics show that, for over 100 years after the Opium War, the big powers had invaded China from the sea for more than 480 times, 84 of which were in large scale. As China lacked effective maritime defense, these invasions wreaked havoc on Chinese people and left the nation at stake. In 1933, France plotted the “Nine Isles Incident” and plundered these isles. Then Japan launched the full-scale invasion of China and illegally seized some of the Xisha and Nansha Islands successively in March, 1939. Till now, on the Shanhu Island and Yongxing Island still stand blockhouses and buildings of the French and Japanese invaders. The recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands is a victorious act of China to defend national dignity, exercise territorial sovereignty, and uphold justice and peace. It is the major achievement of the victory of China’s Anti-Aggression War and the World Anti-Fascist War. Since ancient times, peace and stability have been the long-cherished wish and common goal of mankind. The wealth of others should not be coveted and the territory of other country should not be occupied. Any aggression is doomed to fail. The Chinese government, the Chinese people and the PLA are determined and capable to safeguard the national sovereignty and security and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands is China’s firm maintenance of the postwar international order. The Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation, and the UN Charter are the cornerstone of the postwar international order and the principles for maintaining peace and justice. The Cairo Declaration, issued by China, the United States, and the United Kingdom in December 1943, clearly demanded Japan to return all the territory illegally seized from China. The Potsdam Proclamation, issued by China, the United States, and the United Kingdom, prescribed that the terms of the Cairo Declaration must be implemented. On September 2, 1945, Japan signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender onboard USS Missouri. Thereafter, China accepted the surrender of Japanese invasion forces in Nanjing, and the surrender of Japanese forces occupying the Xisha and Nansha Islands on Hainan Island. These are all direct proof of China’s resumption of sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha Islands by following the postwar order. The postwar international order was jointly established by the world anti-fascist forces, which demonstrated international justice and represented progress of human civilization. Whether in the past or at present, any international organization, government, or people, is obliged and responsible to maintain the postwar international order. It is also the utmost effort to safeguard the peace and development of human community.
The recovery of Xisha and Nansha Islands is China’s national declaration of safeguarding the sovereign rights and interests in the South China Sea. Soon after the recovery of Xisha and Nansha Islands, China sent troops to the islands, established administrative organizations, and started fishery and convoy protection. China also conducted precise survey and renaming of the islands and reefs, marked their locations on officially issued standard maps, meanwhile drew the dotted line in the South China Sea, and promulgated them through government documents to the whole world. These were the specific measures of China to claim sovereignty and exercise jurisdiction, which was widely recognized by the international community and can be found in relevant government documents and publications of multiple countries. National rights are rooted in national practice, and are constantly reaffirmed and reinforced through national declaration. The actions and measures taken by China after the recovery of the Xisha and Nansha Islands have laid a solid nomological foundation for her territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, which must be respected and safeguarded effectively.