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Media poisoning minds against China

Recently, Western media - and even a local English-language newspaper's editorial - have been blaming China for the escalating sovereignty dispute with Vietnam over the Xisha/Paracel Islands. It is difficult to understand how otherwise knowledgeable journalists can make such statements, which fly in the face of historical facts.

Chinese history and literature indicate that the Chinese discovered the Paracel Islands 2,000 years ago, duri6ng the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), were fishing the area during the Tang Dynasty, and had its navy patrolling the archipelago during the Song Dynasty. In the 13th century, Yuan Dynasty scientist Guo Shou Jing installed weather-monitoring devices on the island. Up to the mid-1970s, Vietnam publicly acknowledged that the Paracel/Xisha were a part of China. In 1958, 10 days after Beijing announced that its 12-mile sea-territory claim also applied to the Paracels, Vietnam's then-prime minister Pham Van Dong informed Chinese premier Zhou Enlai that Hanoi accepted and respected the Chinese declaration. In 1974 China took control and occupied the archipelago after winning a sea battle against Vietnam, in response to the Vietnamese navy's effort to expel Chinese fishing boats from the vicinity. It was only after 1975 that Vietnam publicly reneged and repudiated China's claim to the islands.

By planting a rig close to the islands, China is drilling for oil in its own territory. There is no issue here that should cause the US government to intercede, let alone interfere. If weapons cause damage by inflicting physical injury, biased reporting is worse, since it poisons the wisdom of readers.

Yingwai Suchaovanich

Bangkok


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