The Spratly Islands have been beyond the Chinese borders since ancient times------South and East China Sea: It is time to set aside the false history.

Independent Opinion@CommonWealth Magazine,  27/06/2016
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Japanese version:
Annotation: English transliterations of proper names are shown by Japanese pronunciations, followed by Mandarin (Mdr.) pronunciations, with occasional use of common English names such as Amoy, Jao Tsung-I, etc.

by Nozomu Ishiwi
(Associate Professor, Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University, and Investigation Committee Member, Center for Island Studies, Sasakawa Peace Foundation)

Today, June 6, 2016, upon New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim’s questioning on the sovereignty of Taihei-tou (Mdr. Taiping Dao, or Itu Aba Island), Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Leo Chen-jan Lee responded that it is mainly based on international law, and did not fully refute the historical basis. Legislator Lim further stated that the Shin Empire (Mdr. Qing Empire) gravestone, travel notes, etc are all illusions, and the new regime should not deviate from history to claim sovereignty to become the laughingstock of the world. The Deputy Minister agreed.

This should have been a major news story. However, it was only reported by a Liberty Times journalist Tseng Weichen (, and likely went unnoticed by the Japanese and Americans. The Deputy Minister’s words can be interpreted as a call to stop flashing false history. This will be an important policy of Tsai Ing-wen’s new government with significant impact. On the same issue of the sovereignty of Taihei-tou, whether to play with false history or follow true history are as far apart as heaven and earth.

Legislator Lim’s use of the word “illusions” is a mere generalization, and we should view the matter from two perspectives. The first is based on records of civilian activities abroad. Legally, this is insufficient as basis of sovereignty. It is difficult to conclude if the inscription “Shin Empire Kaku family”(Mdr. Qing Empire Guo family) on the old gravestone on Taihei-tou is genuine or fake. If this is really the remains of the Shin Empire, it may have been left by the people of the Kainan (Mdr. Hainan) Island. During the 19th century, fishing activities in the South Sea were mainly performed by Kainan Islanders. If this is used as the basis of sovereignty, then Taihei-tou should belong to Kainan Island. Even if the People's Liberation Army is to occupy Taiwan, the administrative rights of Taihei-tou should still belong to Kainan Island, and Taiwan will have no part in this. Taihei-tou only became a part of Taiwan after Taiwan was occupied by Japan.

The second perspective is guilty of quoting out of context and distorting words to fabricate history, which borders fraud. Regardless of Taihei-tou’s sovereignty, fabricating false history is the greatest crime of all and despised by all. For example, the foreign affairs ministries of both the Nationalist and Communist parties both claimed that the earliest record of Spratly appeared in “Ibutsu-Shi (Mdr. Yiwu-zhi)” by Youfus (Mdr. Yangfu) of Empire Kan (Mdr. Han). The four words Cho-kai Ki-tou (Mdr. Zhang-hai Qi-tou) appeared in this book and Chokai was taken to mean the South Sea while Kitou was interpreted as a reef. From this, it was believed that the Kan people discovered the Spratly Islands. In actuality, this is from Nanshu-ibutsu-shi (Mdr. Nanzhou-Yiwu-Zhi), written during the Three Kingdoms Period by Banshin (Mdr. Wanzhen) of Son-Go (Mdr. Sun Wu). Above this excerpt are the words “Gaikyo Taihaku” (Mdr. Waijiao Dabo, foreign vessels) and "Tetsu-you Ko-shi" (Mdr. Tie-ye Go-zhi, be ironclad). This was already mentioned in an essay by Jao Tsung-I, the grandmaster of history, in 1970.
Gaikyo (Mdr. Waijiao) refers to foreign, and indicates that this was a record of the discovery of the Spratly Islands by foreigners, and contradicts the claims by the foreign affairs ministries of both parties.

Go Shizon (Mdr. Wu Shicun), President of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies of the People’s Republic of China, published a book entitled "The Origin and Development of Nansha Disputes" (Chinese Economic Publishing House, 2010), and rightly cited the words “Chokai Kitou". The book was also published in English where Gaikyou Taihaku (Mdr. Waijiao Dabo) was translated as “boats used by foreigners” [1]. This represents only the most general translation by an unknown translator. However, if President Go Shizon translated this himself, he could have only used the word “foreigner”. It is inconceivable that he did not know the meaning of Gaikyou. It must be considered fraud for an expert to knowingly make a mistake. Members of the think tank of former President Ma Ying-jeu must also have understood this simple fact. However, they recklessly believed that deception of the moment was sufficient and that the Americans would not uncover the details.
[1] (see Wu Shicun, “Solving Disputes for Regional Cooperation and Development in the South China Sea: a Chinese Perspective”, page 18, Chandos Publishing, 2013.)

The southern border of the Min & Shin (Mdr. Ming & Qing) Empires was the Kainan (Mdr. Hainan) Island, and what lied beyond this border was considered foreign. Official Gazetteers attest this fact, and the Spratly Islands were never incorporated as territory. In addition to official records, unofficial geological works have similar descriptions of the border. During the middle to late Shin Empire, Gan Shisou (Mdr. Yan Sizong) recorded Banri Sekitou (Mdr. Wanli Shitang, ie long stone dyke extend for 10,000 Ri, ie 5,000 km, 3,100 miles) in his "Nanyo-Reisoku" (Mdr. Nanyang Lice, ie south sea inference), stating that “this dyke marks the Chugai border”. The Chugai (Mdr. Zhongwai) refers to inside-outside. Nine-dotted line experts all believe that he was referring to the Spratly Islands. However, a closer reading of the upper and lower portions of the original text reveals that east of the Sekitou were the oceans of Fukken (Mdr. Fujian) and the west of the Sekitou was Singapore. The deviation in the north-south border is too large. This is in fact one type of “illusions” that Legislator Lim expressed; it is completely illegitimate according to international law standards, but worthy of pondering according to historical standards.

Nanyo-Reisoku (Mdr. Nanyang Lice) excerpted from Kaikoku Zushi (Mdr. Haiguo Tuzhi), the revised edition of the first year of Kousho (Mdr. Guangxu) Rule, owned by Peking University, now from

For now, we may consider this Sekitou as a north-south undersea range. The range surfaces at the north as the Paracel Islands, and at the south as the Anambas Islands on the east of Singapore. No record of the Spratly Islands was recorded in between. The Chugai border was noted in the earlier part of the original text, near the section discussing the Fukken oceans, and thus should refer to the Paracel Islands. This location is close to the Kainan border described in the official gazettes. Nine-dotted line experts deemed this as the Spratly Islands without further textual investigation. This is far-fetched and a deviation from the original text.

Tracing back to early records of the “Sekitou”, Ou Dai-en (Mdr. Wang Dayuan) of Empire Gen (Mdr. Yuan) described in his “Tou-i-Shiryaku” (Mdr. “Daoyi-Zhilue”) that the 10,000 Ri (Mdr. Li) long “Sekitou” is an undersea ley line that begins at Choshu (Mdr. Chaozhou) and splits into three separate ranges going south. The first extends east to Brunei and the Timor Island, the second extends west to western sea, and the central range threads to Java. The “Sekitou” defined by Gan Shisou (Mdr. Yan Sizong) in “Nanyo-Reisoku” (Mdr. Nanyang Lice) was likely derived from the ranges described by Ou Dai-en, and referred to either the west range or the central range, but could not have been the east range. In short, the ley line is the best explanation of the vastness of the north-south deviation.

Figure: Anambas Islands (downward leftside)

“Nanyo-Reisoku” also states, immediately following the “Sino-barbarian inside-outside border”:

“The Chinese boats were frail and the sailors were unfamiliar with meteorology…… thus, could not take to the open oceans. North of the Sekitou is the Shichi-Shu-yo (Mdr. Qi-Zhou-Yang).”

This description regarding the frailness of the Chinese boats and sailors’ lack of meteorological knowledge reflected in contrast the strength of foreign ships and foreign sailors’ familiarity with meteorology. These were determining factors in the ability to sail the vast outer seas. These outer seas likely referred to the open waters south of the Paracel, and not the archipelago water area to the east of Singapore, near Borneo. If this is the case, then “Sekitou” here should refer to the Paracel Islands north of the outer seas and the “Shichi-Shu-Yo” should be the waters adjacent to Kainan (Mdr. Hainan) Island further north. The current “Shichi-Shu-Yo” is located to the northeast of Kainan Island, in agreement with this description. As to the Spratly Islands, they are located far outside of the open oceans and did not belong to the Shin (Mdr. Qing) Empire.

There are also records of the “Chugai (inside-outside) border” in civilian travel notes. During the Kenryu (Mdr. Qianlong) rule, Chin Kosho (Mdr. Chen Hongzhao) recorded in “Hayu Kiryaku” (Mdr. Bayou Jilue) that:

“The sea lane connecting Amoy and Kalapa is 240 Kou (Mdr. Geng). On initial sailing, the boat headed southwest for 36 Kou, to the Shichi-Shu-yo. There are no islands and this is the lane that must be sailed to reach western sea……The Chugai border divides here.”

“Sho Ryukyu Manshi” (Mdr. Xiaoliuqiu Manzhi) Volume 6 quotes Hayu kiryaku (Mdr. Bayou Jilue), edition of the 31st year of Kenryu rule, from National Diet Library collection.

In this essay, where is “Shichi-Shu-Yo” located? Kalapa is a port in Jakarta. “Kou” (Mdr. Geng) is a unit of measurement in maritime navigation and is equal to approximately 60 Ri (Mdr. Li, 30 km or 19 miles). Sea lanes along the shores from Amoy to Hainan Island were mostly straight while lanes from Hainan Island to Jakarta were mostly sinuous. If the 240 Kou of the sinuous lanes is halved and calculated as 120 Kou, then 36 Kou would be equal to three-tenths of the distance. This is in agreement with ratios of straight line distances between Amoy, Hainan Island and Jakarta in modern maps. It is thus known that “Shichi-Shu-Yo” in “Hayu kiryaku” is approximately located near the Hainan Island.

In Kanbun (Kanji writing style, similar to Latin of Italy), “Chugai” refers merely to the interior and exterior, and not specifically to the Shin Empire and foreign countries. Chin Kosho only spoke of “inside-outside” and not “Sino-barbarian”. However, its location is consistent with the country border at Kainan Island. It can thus be concluded that the Chin Kosho’s “Chugai border” refers to the interior and exterior of the country border. This can be used to support the location of the Chugai (inside-outside) border as described in “Nanyo-Reisoku”. It is worth mentioning that there also exists an Chugai border to the east of the Senkakus in the East China Sea that marks the inside and outside of Ryukyu (Mdr. Liuqiu) kingdom, but the Ryukyu castle is inside, China is outside. This contradicts “Hayu Kiryaku”, as I have already reviewed and verified.

The original of Chin Kosho’s “Hayu Kiryaku” is long lost, and the above excerpt is found in “Sho Ryukyu Manshi” by Shu Shikai (Mdr. Zhu Shijie). “Sho Ryukyu Manshi” was collected in “Taiwan Bunken Soukan” (Mdr. Taiwan Wenxian Congkan, or Taiwan old documents series) of 1957, which has been widely circulated the past 50 years. Nine-dash line experts avoid discussing the Chugai border described in “Hayu Kiryaku” and only use “Nanyo-Reisoku”, with vast north-south deviation, to forcefully move the inside-outside border to the Spratly Islands and misleading the public.

“Hayu Kiryaku” is a travel note to Jakarta, and according to Legislator Freddy Lim, it should be categorized as a type of illusion. Strictly according to international laws, most historical materials prior to the 19th century are illusions. If the standard is relaxed, then there are some that are real and some that are not. They cannot be generalized. The Chugai border in “Hayu Kiryaku” matches the Kainan Island border recorded in past local chronicles, and should be taken as real.

The above is only a single example but it can already be known that the nine-dash line can be easily refuted through a discussion of history. While we cannot apply these historical materials to modern international affairs, if we avoid discussing history, we may not expose the historical fraud of the nine-dash line. The result will give the world a notion that “although the nine-dash line is against international laws, it must be respected because it is a part of history”. This is detrimental and is exactly the goal of the Peoples Republic of China.