Two steles that affirm Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago have been recognized as national relics, pursuant to a recent decision by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
One of them is situated on Song Tu Tay Island and the other is situated on Nam Yet Island.
The two islands are part of Truong Sa District of south-central Khanh Hoa Province, said Truong Dang Tuyen, the director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
The steles were built 58 years ago, in 1956, by the government of the former Republic of Vietnam, which governed the southern half of the country in the 1955-1975 period, Tuyen said.
Both of them were inscribed with the following words: “The Truong Sa archipelago is directly governed by Phuoc Tuy Province. The military mission for examination and studies visited the archipelago on August 22, 1956 under the guidance of the Republic of Vietnam Navy.”
“In April 1956, when the French expeditionary troops withdrew from Indochina, the Vietnamese national army, which later became the Republic of Vietnam Army governed the western part of the Hoang Sa [Paracel] archipelago,” said Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former head of the current government’s National Border Committee.
In this transitional time, China invaded a number of islands of both Truong Sa and Hoang Sa, and the Republic of Vietnam voiced its protest against China’s invasion, Truc said.
“On May 24 and June 8, 1956, the Republic of Vietnam issued a notice, emphasizing that Truong Sa and Hoang Sa ‘are always integral parts of Vietnam’ and affirming Vietnam’s long-standing sovereignty over the archipelagos,” the former official said.
Truc also noted that “on August 22, 1956, naval ship HQ04 of the Republic of Vietnam arrived in Truong Sa to build the sovereignty steles, erect the flag poles, and take measures to protect the archipelago from the illegal occupation and violation of Vietnam’s territorial integrity by some countries.”
Later, on October 20, 1956, the Republic of Vietnam issued Decree 143/Vietnam to put the Truong Sa archipelago under the administration of Phuoc Tuy Province, the ex-official added.
In 2011, the Khanh Hoa People’s Committee recognized the two steles in Truong Sa as provincial historical relics.
Nguyen Viet Thuan, chairman of the Truong Sa District People’s Committee, said the authorities, army and people of the district are very happy to know the two steles have been acknowledged as national historical relics.
The provincial authorities have assigned their Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to coordinate with the district authorities and the Vietnam People’s Navy to set up a plan to embellish the two relics.
“VnExpress newspaper’s Editorial Board and the provincial People’s Committee has reached a consensus that the embellishment of the steles will be funded by an ongoing program initiated by the paper to raise money for Truong Sa,” said Truong Dang Tuyen, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
“We are building a plan for the embellishment and will submit it to the provincial authorities for consideration in the coming time,” Tuyen said.