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Translated by Nhat Thiêt
Orange County, 26-10-208, Văn Hóa interviewing Prof. Nguyen Van Canh.
Editor’s note: Prof. Nguyen Van Canh has edited the answers in this interview and provided additional details and illustrations.

* Prof. Nguyen Van Canh’s Response to Ambassador Le Cong Phung’s statements
* A Vietnamese Motto: ‘when the country is in danger, it’s every ordinary citizen’s responsibility….’

Ly Kien Truc: Greetings, Professor, firstly on behalf of the Vietnamese Diaspora’s TV station and Van Hoa magazine, we are honored to receive you and thank you for having agreed to grant us this special interview today, and may we wish you the best of health, so you could continue with the work for the benefit of our future generations. Please refer to

Prof Nguyen Van Canh: Greetings to Journalist Ly Kien Truc and to all audience, it is my honor to be here today to answer questions Mr. Ly Kien Truc might pose in relation to the Gulf of Tonkin, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (the Paracel and Spratley Islands) as well as issues related to a certain point on the Vietnamese territory. I will try to answer each and every question you might raise.

LKT: Professor, prior to our interview with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s Ambassador Le Cong Phung in Washington, D.C., we managed to contact a few officials and were informed that a White Paper you authored has been sent to various important American legislative and executive authorities, and to the General-Secretary and 192 members of the UN…. Because of the very effect of this White Paper, some embarrassment has been felt by the current Hanoi government, as the White Paper expresses everything that Vietnamese at home and overseas could possibly get hold of as the truth related to the Sino-Vietnamese border issues, to the Gulf of Tonkin, to Paracel and Spratley islands.
    Consequently Ambassador Le Cong Phung through some intermediaries organized for us an interview, where Mr. Phung talked about negotiation process between Vietnam and China on the Sino-Vietnamese border. Throughout this process of negotiation, starting from 1991 as the year Vietnam reconciled with China, since you have been following this negotiation process between Vietnam and China, has there been anything new arising that you have noticed?

Prof Canh: The negotiating process did not start from 1991. These negotiations took place prior to 1979, a period before the time Communist China (CC) attacked Communist Vietnam (VC) in that year. Both sides already had discussions. In the beginning, the VC still took the Franco-China Treaty that is the 1885 Tien-Tsin agreement, together with its 1887 Convention as basis for negotiations, while CC refused to recognize it as a fact. The strange thing is whatever the CC demanded, the VC later abandoned their previous position and yielded to those demands. It means the border determined by the 1887 Convention was no longer used as basis for negotiations.  The inability to keep to that border determination results in making territorial concessions, therefore legitimating the Communist Chinese expansionist occupations.

LKT: Professor, in Mr. Le Cong Phung’s interview on the negotiation process, he stated that what did Hanoi agree on  is based on the  1885 Tien-Tsin agreement  and its 1987 convention, together with  clauses of the 1982 law of the sea. If those legal bases were used as they said, why would you think there has been further and further retreat in the face of such Chinese Communist encroachment?

Prof Canh: I think the gradual retreat and concession to CC have been due to the VC leadership who has become the CC’s lackeys, and in the White Paper, I call them missionaries.  As time goes on, the extent of their servility to China becomes greater.  It would earn them the name indigenous governors who reign Vietnam on behalf of foreign aggressors.  It is them who carry out the hegemonic ambition of Communist China over the Southeastern region.

    You have enquired about the Tien Tsin agreement signed in 1885. This agreement had been recognized and gone into effect for more than one hundred years that the VC quoted in their negotiations with CC, for which I can hardly consider it as a sound foundation. Thus in negotiations, the VC have yielded to CC’s demand and tacitly abandoned that agreement while making concessions for a new border line to be set up. That is their ‘mission’ of selling out our land and sea.
In addition, they also assisted in a tacit way the inclusion of a portion of Vietnamese land into Chinese territory. It could also be added that their action is tantamount to assimilating Vietnamese to Chinese ethnicity, akin to what Truong Chinh announced in 1951 in the name of Lao Dong Party Secretary-General…… And the new border line that CC has drawn over the Vietnamese part of South China Sea which has been dubbed “the dragon’s tongue” on the new map, redrawn and published by CC in June 2006, is an example of  how the Communist Party of Vietnam  (CPV) tries to help CC achieve their hegemonic objectives.

Up to now, the CPV has not taken any active action against this CC move.  That Vietnamese students’ demonstrations against CC at home about the Paracel and Spratley issues in recent months having been savagely crushed is another instance.  The new South China border line gives CC a right to ownership of the territorial waters as close as to Vietnamese coastline and therefore bloc off Vietnamese Survival Space, and I shall come back to this issue to this later:

LTK: Yes, Professor.  Back to the negotiation on land borders, Mr. Le Cong Phung said he has been accused of selling off land near the border area between Vietnam and China. He asserts however no precious square kilometers are lost, and the Nam Quan pass is there, still intact, so is the Ban Gioc waterfall.  Professor, do you agree with these statements Mr. Le Cong Phung made on Free Asia Radio recently?

Prof. Canh: Incorrect, completely incorrect, and I can even say that those are lies really.  In listening to that interview, I think he confirms that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam government has used the Franco-China Agreement of 1885 or the Tien-Tsin agreement signed between Patenôtre and Ly Hung Chang as legal basis for the negotiation. It turns out that the agreement was eliminated completely.  If we compare Phung’s statements with a main document issued un 1979 by the Vietnamese Communist Party which is entitled “The Question of Border between Vietnam and China”, we will find that the above stated points are totally incorrect.

    I will take for example the Trinh Truong area adjacent to Mong Cai.  This area stretches six kilometres along the border and 1.5 km deep inside Vietnamese territory.  The CC side has ‘swallowed’ all that area and annexed it to the so-called Dong Hung commune.  So what does it mean by saying not a  single square kilometer has been lost? Likewise there are 40 similar spots along that border, and at many of those spots, the CC have come over to chase Vietnamese inhabitants away and occupy their land and houses, then brought in CC settlers before formalizing the situation.  There are other places with 9 km in length and 1.5 km in depth, and therefore “the difference of only one square kilometer between two sides” stated by Mr. Phung is completely fallacious. I have documents authored by the government of the Communist Vietnam that denounced the Chinese over this matter.  There are so many details, and I cannot discuss it fully here.

     I will include a summary to make it more comprehensive.
    The more important issue presently is the question of the Spratley islands: the consequences of Ho Chi Minh’s decision on the transfer of the Spratleys and Paracels to Red China and an extremely huge potential danger arises for all Vietnamese people’s rights and interests.  This also involves what you have referred to as effect on peace and stability in the Southeast Asian region.  In reality, the potential danger to stability can spread even further.

LKT: Professor, I would like to return if I may to the issue of the Spratleys and Paracels.  To continue with our conversation today Professor, there is a rather important point Mr. Le Cong Phung appears to be very concerned about and has expressed some personal frustrations over the issue of Sino-Vietnamese border.  What did  Mr. Phung  reveal to me is that from now until the end of December this year, conflicts over some high grounds along the Sino-Vietnamese border are to be solved.  About those high spots, I  asked Mr. Phung if they are strategic routes that Chinese armies had used over thousands of years to invade Vietnam, he said that they would be.  Those six high spots are still under contention between Vietnam and China, would you, Professor, you have a definitive appraisal of those six spots, and in your opinion, what importance do those high spots play in the present context of Sino-Vietnamese relations?

Prof. Canh: First of all, for many years Beijing has pressured the VC to complete quickly the border pegging and marker building. Why? To make it a “fait accompli” and therefore render irreversible whatever the VC have pledged in the 1999 border agreement.  Remember that the CC have never trusted VC leadership, always consider them as a treacherous group.  And therefore, the Chinese demanded that this work is to be done by the end of 2008.  The VC are chasing that deadline.  After the border has been pegged out, Beijing will publish a map of the new border line.  We will know by then where and how much land we lose.  The VC dare not publish the map which is supposed to be attached to the 1999 agreement. 
Next, I am pretty sure the issue is related to those high spots. There are two significant routes the Chinese armies had used in invading Vietnam. One is the Nam Quan pass area in Lang Son, and the other area is north of Ha Giang province.

    Concerning the Nam Quan pass area, if we look north, there are two mountain ranges in Quoc Khanh village, Trang Dinh district, to the left.  These two ranges being adjacent to Nam Quan pass look over the route from China to Vietnam.  I know they are now completely occupied by CC.  They are now inside CC territory.  And to the right, there is a region called Binh Do 400 (of Cao Loc district) the location of which is behind the border marker no. 26 (based on Tien-Tsin Agreement).  Binh Do 400 is also in the Chinese hands.  The two high ground areas flanking both sides of Nam Quan pass which helped defend Vietnam, are now lost.  From ancient times, whenever China invaded Vietnam, their armies were defeated at that pass.

Now that rugged mountain area which serves to protect our fatherland has fallen into CC hands.

    The second point is another other strategic position situated on the Ha Giang border.  In Ha Giang during the 1979 war, the CC sent 3 armies, plus two independent infantry divisions from Kunming (14 divisions in total) to invade the northern Ha Giang border area.  The route for advancing troops into Vietnam in this area with rugged mountains is no longer in Vietnamese territory.  It was exactly the area where our ancestors stopped the Chinese advances to invade our country.  At present the CC troops have occupied and held tightly on to that area which has been annexed to CC territory.  The CC have changed the names of two of those five ranges of mountain to Lao Son and Giai Am Son (see attached summary).
In the future, if CC brings its armies over to occupy more land, with these two areas in their hands, the invaders will march over at their leisure.

LKT: Dear listeners, in the first part of our  interview with Professor Dr Nguyen Van Canh on borders between China and Vietnam that we have just concluded, the Professor has clearly presented his views and at the same time his reaction to Mr. Le Cong Phung’s recent statements. As we know this is a response from a professor who has done many careful studies on the issues concerned.
Professor, we have just discussed the situation of Nam Quan pass and when we mention Nam Quan pass, we Vietnamese do not fail to recall Ban Gioc waterfall, which forms possibly the most picturesque scenery of Vietnam in the North, and as everyone knows at present and also according to Mr. Le Cong Phung, half of Ban Gioc belongs to China, is this true?

Prof Canh: I cannot be quite certain about verification as the VC Party covers everything up.  However I think the loss of Ban Gioc fall is true.  Previously Ban Gioc fall lay deep in Vietnamese territory, but today half of  it lies in CC, and especially since CC built a reinforced concrete dam over a section of Qui Thuan River, half of Ban Gioc fall belongs to China exactly like Mr. Le Cong Phung said.  Consequently, if pegging and mile posting are to be done, Ban Gioc  Fall  must be on a new line and they have planned the border line  to go through the middle of Ban Gioc fall, instead of being way up north according to the Franco-Chinese border map, and not along the midstream of Ban Gioc waterfall like what  Phung talked about..  The picture/illustration in the attached document can say more clearly about the situation of that waterfall.

LKT: Professor, however, Mr. Le Cong Phung stated that based on the two maps issued by Vietnam and China respectively, according to that Franco-Chinese map the border peg was situated in the middle of the river at that time, is this correct?

Prof Canh: I do not think so.  I am sure that the Ban Gioc fall area in particular lies deep in our territory, and according a VC’s document released in 1979, CC sent 2000 soldiers over the border to cast a reinforced concrete curtain along a tributary river bordering Vietnam in order to change its course, and the Ban Gioc fall previously is inside our territory; now the border has been moved so close that we have lost half of the Ban Gioc waterfall.  Only a few days ago, a Vietnamese correspondent reported that three years ago the CC embassy in Hanoi organized an excursion from Vietnam to visit Ban Gioc waterfall. Among the invited guests were Viet Communist Party officials, also news agencies etc. What for? To prove that part of this waterfall belongs to CC.  The famous scenic resort is now named in Chinese ‘Detian, Premier Spectacular Scenery‘.  That was also a signal to the CPV, to Vietnamese people, and to the world that the situation is irreversible.  Certainly, the CPV’s mouth will shut up again like they have been doing so far.  Please see the illustrations in the appendix.

LKT: Now we talk about the Gulf of Tonkin and Sansha District matters as well as the Decree on Fishing between Vietnam and China.  According to recent presentations in conferences that you conducted, the Gulf of Tonkin is now considered almost a conspiration between Vietnam and China which allows China to control that Gulf.  Could you please describe how the Gulf of Tonkin is controlled and how the Gulf of Tonkin is carved up for fishing, with respective economic rights and benefits for Vietnam and China?

Prof Canh: The listeners and audience would be aware that in December 2000, the VC and CC signed an agreement concerning the demarcation in the Gulf of Tonkin region.  In addition, they appended another agreement called the agreement on cooperation of fishing in the Gulf region.  About these matters, Le Cong Phung stated that the 1887 Convention was the basis for redefining the Gulf area and the loss of area was negligible if at all, and Vietnam’s gain amounted to several thousand square kilometres according to the law of the sea (1982).  Phung has denied all losses.

    And so let me demonstrate how much has been lost, and what is the present situation of the Gulf of Tonkin.
The map we use here is that of the Gulf of Tonkin as defined by the 1887 Convention and was drawn in an agreement by both sides (see map in appendix).  Starting from Mong Cai here, and we can see a red line running north-south from Mong Cai down across the mouth of the Gulf, with one side being Huang Liu of Hainan, and the other side, our Con Co island of Northern Vietnam.  That is the mouth of the Gulf measuring about 130 nautical miles.  Let me stress that this red line is the line drawn in the map of the 1887 Convention signed between the Qing dynasty and France.  This red line lies east to Tra Co (T ch’a- Kou) island, running south to the mouth of the Gulf.  The part to the west of this line belongs to Vietnam, and that to the east, to China.  Before signing the agreement, Ly Hung Chang complained that China had lost heavily, ceding too much territory to France and continuously made requests for “this and that extra bit”.  At that time Constans, the French government emissary (for signing this convention to divide up the Gulf region) wanted to return to France as soon as possible, and ceded to China a piece of land called Pack Lung Cape, about 20 or 30 km east of Mong Cai.  In addition, there was a enclave on the other side of the border called Soc Son village that had belonged to Vietnam, under Father Pierre’s administration.  Both were also given to China.  This leaves only the area west of the red line from Mong Cai downward as ours, otherwise that red line should be drawn from Pack Lung Cape, not from Mong Cai.
And they drew a Red Line like that to divide up the territory.  According to that Convention, it is the border line dividing up the Gulf region.  What is the area of the Gulf region? It is about 123,700 sq. km.  Based on this Red borderline, Vietnam owns 77,000 sq. km and China the remainder.  The Franco-Chinese convention stipulates that 64% belongs to Vietnam, and only 36% to China.  Now they have signed an agreement in 2000 to split 54/46, what did they base on? At first, CPV demanded that the Franco-Chinese Convention be basis for negotiation.  The CC said no, because that convention was signed under the treacherous oppression of French imperialists, and as a consequence, China had to concede.  It was an inequitable agreement.  That is why CC now wants to be more equitable.  That had been CC’s demand since the 1970s, to which the VC had not acceded either.
The CC have reasoned that the Red Line was only a line for the sake of administering the islands, not a frontier demarcation line.  The convention therefore should be annulled and the border re-drawn. However, if we look at the imperial Franco-Chinese Convention text to determine whether it is an ‘administrative’ line or a border line, we find that this line is clearly defined in that Convention as the border between the two sides.  Nevertheless CC exerts its power in bringing pressure to bear on the VC in insisting that this line is an administrative one, and not a border.  Today all that CC demanded has been satisfied by the VC.  What then, is the situation of the Gulf of Tonkin agreement today?
The CC demanded that a border line should go from Mong Cai to the middle of the Gulf, then head south to split the gulf in halves.  There are 21 reference points starting with point no. 1 at Mong Cai, as shown on the attached map, that demarcation line curves out to the middle of the gulf ending at point 21.  All the part to the east of it belongs to CC, while the western part to Vietnam.  As a result Vietnam only occupies 54%, China about 46%.  After this re-determination of the border, Vietnam has lost 11,000 sq. km.
When such an agreement to divide the gulf has been reached, China was still greedy.  They said they wanted an agreement on shared fishing.  Thus there are two agreements in reality, one agreement on territorial determination, and another on shared fishing.  What in effect does this fishing pact involve? This pact determines that from each side of the demarcation line, each country must contribute 30.5 nautical miles to a common fishing area.  This means fishing together.  This is a large area, lying south of the 20th parallel occupying 35000 sq. km.  The pact is to last 12 years and can be extended for another 3 years, totalling 15 years.  That is not all.  There is another region north of Bach Long Vy island.  This is called the smaller transition area, and its limit is for 4 years only.
The question is: Why, after the gulf has been divided, must there be common fishing still?

And why did the VC accept such a common fishing arrangement? Don’t they have the capacity to fish on their own, or they must co-operate with the CC in order to fish? This is an unimaginable concession to the Chinese communists.

Vietnamese fishermen use only rudimentary tools, wooden boats with small horsepower, how can they engage in common fishing with Chinese fleets of big ships of 200 horsepowers capable of fishing in deep waters, where each net dragged by two boats extends up to 60 nautical miles from end to end, that is 100 km.  How then can this co-operation and sharing of fishing be carried out?

What is more, such fleets will trawl the gulf region, going back and forth, very close to the gulf coastline and thus in 15 years there would be no more fish for us Vietnamese to catch.  Besides, Tran Duc Luong has agreed with the CC to establish an “economic belt” in 2005 along the coast.  What is left for them to make a living on? At present, some fishermen have to go far south in their wooden boats pursuing a livelihood.  In July 2007, a number of Vietnamese fishermen were shot and killed by Indonesian naval forces for working in their territorial waters.

Practically, the shared fishing arrangement presents a great disadvantage to Vietnamese fishermen.  To work in this common fishing area, you need a permit.  Who issues this permit? On the VC side, it’s the local governmental authorities.  Many fishermen have to pay fees when applying for a permit.  Some cannot afford the high fees.  And when they fish in our waters in the common fishing area without a licence, CC navy or  coastguards, even Chinese fishermen can check to see if they have permits. If a permit is not produced, CC fishermen have the right to “strip” the catch, meaning they would plunder the catch and load it on their ships before turning the Vietnamese fishermen back.

To my knowledge, in the common fishing ground, there is a zone in the middle of the gulf with great depth where a type of fish called Ca Day [sea bed fish] can be found.  They live at a great depth. They fetch a high price. Vietnamese have no boat big and modern equipments to catch this fish.  The CC do have the means to fish them.

Another point to note is the event of January 8th 2005, a number of Vietnamese fishing boats from Thanh Hoa were at the location which I mark red on the map in the Appendix, working in the new territorial waters, about 12 km west of the new demarcation line for this gulf, at the reference point no. 14 of this line.  While they were fishing there, CC navy ships of the steel armored type approached, and with CC flag lowered, fired a volley of shots.  A number of fishing boats sank. At least 9 Vietnamese fishermen died on the spot.  A fisherman working nearby, seeing the shooting and what was happening tried to make an escape back to Thanh Hoa.  A CC navy ship chased after, and fired many shots on the victim’s boat right up to Vietnamese coast before sailing off.

Such is the situation of the division of the gulf area and the common area of shared fishing. Another thing has also been observed: Those two agreements were signed in 2000, but not until 2004 were they ratified by the VC national assembly, while the land agreement was ratified within 6 months (June 2000). Why is this so? The answer is that the VC did not dare ratifying it right away for fear that CC fishing ships being very big, and such a fleet in operation could not escape international notice.  On closer observation, the international community recognized that the VC have given up too much of their people’s rights, and also for fear of adverse public reaction at home, they let it drag on.  That was why in 2002, Jiang Zemin came to Hanoi demanding early ratification.  The VC then had to take some action, and not earlier than in 2004, it was ratified by the Vietnamese national assembly!!!

LKT: Professor, you have just described an extremely huge disadvantage for Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin, at the same time the second agreement, the so-called Decree Paper (protocol) on common fishing, has clearly shown that this common fishing area not only brings in economic income for China but also the effect of big Chinese steel ships sailing to and fro right next to Vietnamese coast line.  In your opinion Professor, what is the situation concerning national security around the Gulf of Tonkin?

Prof Canh: Alas, this is another danger, as half of the Gulf has been given up, CC navy can come right close to Vietnamese coast line.  Also conceded to CC is the right to check and control right up to the coast.  The CC demanded that “now you and I must patrol together.”  The VC and CC agreed to establish navy boat squadrons to share-patrol in the Golf region.  What does share-patrolling purport to do? Merely to control the VC.  CC is so big and their naval power predominates.  They can bully the VC, but there is no way for the VC to bully them.  Shared patrol means CC ships can go right into our coast to check and control Vietnam.  As in reality within the Gulf zone, there are only two parties: VC and CC.  And no other third country nor any pirate group coming from far away would dare cause instability for CC.  Of course as far as security is concerned, the VC just sit idle, tacitly letting the CC control natural resources under the sea bed,  allowing CC scientific ships to go prospecting occasionally for oil deep into our Gulf territorial waters even in the new frontier zone.

LKT: And so according to this map Professor, North Vietnam today lies right close to Hainan island where CC is building a nuclear submarine base.  From there to the Gulf border, it is not at all far. What is the reason for establishing a nuclear subs base on Hainan after this agreement was signed?

Prof Canh: This is another issue. In this context, CC has considered she has already taken the Gulf area. However, concerning the Sanya base, the nuclear sub base, CC signals that she wants to occupy the whole Spratly archipelago in the south and all the South China Sea will be used as a stepping stone in the advance towards Southeast Asia.

LKT: So, the agreements including on the common fishing one in the Gulf of Tonkin constitute the first launching pads for gradually advancing to the South, aren’t they?

Prof Canh: Correct. There has been news about CC navy headquarters moving to this region already.

LKT: Professor, advancing gradually south, then the nearest point is the Paracel archipelago; then from your perspective Professor, what situation the Paracels find themselves in now?

Prof Canh: About the Paracels, we know that up to 1974, the South Vietnamese Navy had been fighting to protect the remainder of the territory being the Crescent (or Nguyet Thiem) group.  In the context of the Paracels, may I take this opportunity to praise the sacrifice of Republic of Vietnam Navy who had valiantly defended the fatherland.  There was information we did not know of until recently revealed by CC documents, that an Admiral named Phuong Quang Kinh, second in command of the South Sea fleet, then commander of the battle front had lost his life together with the whole battle command at the Paracels. In addition, 4 colonels, 2 lieutenant-colonels, all commanders of battle ships, also suffered the same fate.

    The Republic of Vietnam naval force consisted of only 4 ships, not equipped with missiles like CC ones, and had to fight against a great Chinese force of 11 battle ships.
    On the South Vietnamese navy side, the highest ranking officer, Navy Major Nguy Van Tha together with 58 soldiers heroically sacrificed themselves in the defense of the island that we have inherited from our ancestors.

    From then on, the Paracel islands have fallen into CC hands.  And not until now Le Cong Phung has admitted this truth.  There, CC have built many military bases.  The most often cited base is a base on Phu Lam island, or internationally known as Woody.  From the 1980s at this base, CC have erected many military establishments capable of housing several thousand troops, fresh water reservoirs, helicopter pads and even an air strip.  This air strip has been widened and lengthened to 2,600 m to allow bombers to take off and land.  There is a fuel depot.  At first it was a advance outpost to move southward, linking with the Spratleys and further locations.  In addition there is a second island called Pattle.  In 1974, this island still belonged to the Republic of Vietnam.

    Many military bases are now found on this archipelago.  There are many photographs of military installations.  This one is on Tri Ton Island, which lies nearest to our Da Nang.  This is the military headquarters on Tri Ton.  This is a photo of another military base.  This is the border marker on Tri Ton Island.  This island is called Dao Cay or Cu Moc (Tree) Island.  This is the CC military headquarters on Quang Hoa Island of the Paracels.  This island is in the Tuyen Duc (Amphitrite) group...

LKT: So all the Paracel islands are controlled by Chinese army commands.  Thus apart from our loss of islands and of national security, we also sustain economic losses, Professor, what do you think?

Prof Canh: They have taken the whole archipelago.  In June 1992, they signed contracts with the US Crestone Company to prospect for oil in the 25,000 km area south of the Paracels.  Thompson, President of Crestone, stated that CC has promised to use its armed forces to protect the oil prospecting and drilling. Even the guano that South Vietnam had developed and the fishing are controlled by CC.  They forbid our fisher folks to come and if anyone happens to stray into the area, CC would shoot to kill, or at least imprison and fine them for transgressing Chinese territorial waters. Naturally, the military bases there indicate that they permanently threaten Vietnam.

LKT: Speaking of the Paracels, by the way Professor, we have learned of a few matters from current affairs.  That is we have read in a recent news report that CC is prepared to invite Vietnam to participate in a joint development of resources at the Paracels, what would be your opinion Professor, if this is true on the Chinese part?

Prof Canh: If that were true, it would only be an amusing statement, because they have now controlled all the Paracel archipelago, as Le Cong Phung has now finally confirmed when he said, “The Paracel islands have completely been taken possession of by China and the Paracels in legal and historical aspects always belong to Vietnam.”  Once this archipelago is in CC hands, they would never give it up.  I do not believe that report is true.

LKT: All right Professor could you then envisage that there is another reason for China to suddenly invite Vietnam to participate in joint development of resources on the Paracels?

Prof Canh: No, I do not think so.  Otherwise, that is only a propaganda tactic.  Even right on the Chinese Vietnamese border region, CC has sent troops to chase Vietnamese inhabitants off their homes to allow Chinese citizens to move in.  Some Vietnamese protested, their houses were burnt down.  After the houses were burnt, they let CC migrants come over and rebuild to live on the same property.  In that spirit, how can they talk of inviting the VC to joint-develop resources? On the contrary, in December 2005, VC met with CC in Beijing, then they circulated information about co-operation in prospecting for oil in the Spratley archipelago.  This has happened.  It means the VC invited CC to collaborate with the intention to divide the profit maybe.  The reverse case where CC invites VC to collaborate in business to share profit could never exist, once CC owns the archipelago.  The joint cooperation in fishing in the Gulf of Tonkin is another example.

LKT: Yes, right, to come back to the Chinese southward expansion, they are approaching the Spratley islands and in fact the Spratley archipelago ocean region is many times larger than the Gulf of Tonkin and its natural resources can be said to be tremendous for Vietnam.  At the same time it is also a disputed area between six Asian nations.  And so Professor, what do you think about the Spratley islands sprouting so many issues at present, for instance, the oil company Exxon Mobil has been chased away by CC and currently there is movement of the US naval force closer to the Spratleys?

Prof Canh: Ah, we know that when Nguyen Tan Dung went to see Mr. Bush, he intended to invite the US to enter Vietnam so as to auger some economic benefit so that the US will defend economic interests and therefore protect the VC as well.  Such would be their calculation.  Whether that scheme is feasible or not, it would not be as simple as they think.  If we look at the new border drawn by CC along the red line on this map, some people call it the “dragon’s tongue” map.  The CC territorial waters as such cover all the South China Sea.  Would the US be able to expel CC from the Paracels and some islands of the Spratleys that have been occupied by them, in order to help VC preserve her territorial sovereignty?

    As for saying “there is movement of US naval force closer to the Spratleys,” this is not quite correct.  The US Fleet has been permanently present in this ocean region.  The US have said they will not relinquish their presence here.  Surely it is in their interests not to abandon the South China Sea, especially when the value of two-way transport of goods and trading amounts to trillions of dollars annually.  Obviously, has CC threatened US interests yet or how far has the threat gone? That is a question for the US in defense of their interests.  As for the ExxonMobil company, the US State Department stated that ExxonMobil will be protected. This company has informed it will continue to prospect and drill for oil.  On this knowledge, BP has also announced it will return to the area, though it already left the area after being threatened by CC.

LKT: This means the “dragon’s tongue” map covers the whole South China Sea and the Spratley islands.
Prof Canh: The total area covered is three and a half million square kilometers.  Le Minh Nghia of the Committee for the Continental Shelf of the VC prime minister’s office stated early in the 1980s that of the whole South China Sea covering three and a half million sq. km, an area of three million sq. km is occupied by them.  If we look at the new map then the area occupied by CC is bigger than 3 million sq. km, as it spreads closer to the Vietnamese coastline.  And so we ask what is the distance between its boundary and Vietnamese coast? I do not have the co-ordinates to determine how close it lies along the Vietnamese coastline.  However, let’s compare to the distance from the mouth of the gulf being less than 130 nautical miles.  Divided in halves, each side is about over 60 miles.  Consider this distance from Cam Ranh to the new border against the half-distance to the gulf mouth, then the former is shorter than the latter.  It may measure only about 40 or 50 nautical miles.  This indicates how vast the CC plot is, and how gargantuan their ambition is. They still plot to go further than this, not just staying limited to the Spratleys.

    From Hainan Island, we have already seen the Sanya base.  This “secret” naval base was only disclosed in April 2008. This is an extremely important base for advancing southward.

    The Sanya base has two parts. The first part is a secret base with a capacity to host 20 nuclear submarines of the 094 type.  At present, it is known that CC already possesses 5 of these submarines. They can carry intercontinental missiles with a 10,000 km range with multi-nuclear heads. The US Defense Dept predicts that there will be 5 more produced within the next five years.  In addition, CC currently has about 57 subs, a number of which are of the Song S20 type with German Diesel engines. They hardly make noise while running submerged, and therefore cannot be detected by satellites when they are at a great depth.  Some of these are equipped with long-range missiles capable of reaching 1000 miles.  The subs are equipped with Yingji-8 missiles which can be fired underwater to destroy aircraft carriers on the surface.

    Sanya is an extremely dangerous base and to the left of it is a sea region with a 5000 m depth, an excellent place for parking submarines.

The second part is related to 3 docking jetties.  This is a type of jetty designed for aircraft carriers and is equipped to allow 6 carriers to dock here and all plants and equipment or troops and missiles can be loaded onto the carriers.  At present a 800 m-long jetty has been completed, two more are about to be built.  The question is: When docks for aircraft carriers are built like this, has CC come to possess any aircraft carriers yet? The answer is ‘not yet’, but they are now preparing for their arrival.
    In 1995, I released a paper saying that CC plans to have a fleet called Blue Ocean fleet operate in the year 2000 in the South China Sea.  This fleet would have at least one aircraft carrier by 2000. They were negotiating with Ukraine to purchase a Varyag worth 2 billion USD.  I have shown a picture of the Varyag in the White Paper.  However nothing had been spotted in 2000, and not until now one document is found to refer to that aircraft carrier.  Deng Xiaoping had ordered to suspend the purchase of air craft carriers to save money for the production of bio-chemical weapons.  If the Blue Ocean Fleet was activated now with that aircraft carrier, it would not still be strong enough to fight the US and would be eliminated. Therefore, the project was postponed.  The latest news is that a wrecked USSR Kuznetsov  or Varyag  that they purchased previously, is being repaired  and will be ready in a near future.

LKT: Professor, in our interview with US Ambassador to Vietnam, Michael Michalak, he said that in the search for MIAs lost in Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War, they have now activated the search and the search activation has been excellent, and so Professor, of what significance would this say about security issues in the Gulf of Tonkin?

Prof Canh: Ah! I did know something about this.  For a long time, right from the 1980s, there has been the issue of discussing with the VC about searching for Americans Missing In Action everywhere including those American MIA’s in the Gulf of Tonkin.  There, when  US planes entered Vietnam to fire on North Vietnam, there was a number of planes crashing into the Gulf of Tonkin.  Now, to search for American MIA’s there, both sides have agreed in principle on a number of conditions to search for those downed airplanes there.  This means the VC will expedite in assisting the US, satisfying more US demands about MIA’s.  In being able to help the US, the VC hope that the US will help maintain security for the VC.

    I think however, that is very difficult, and nebulous, because the CC’s influence on VC leadership is too great.  I call the present VC leaders missionaries for CC in realizing the CC’s ambitions.  Therefore it is difficult for that eventuality to take place in the near future.

LKT: Professor, also in our interview with Ambassador Michael Milachak, we asked a question based on Mr. Le Cong Phung a statement in our interview that at present Vietnam has proposed to bring the Paracel & Spratley islands issues to the international court based on the 1982 law of the sea in San Francisco. When I asked the US Ambassador for his opinion he said that is the due process, we should just go ahead with it.  What would you think Professor, about both the statements of Mr. Le Cong Phung and Ambassador Milachak?

Prof Canh: In my view, those statements by Michael Milachak are only normal. The re are international structures responsible for solving international conflicts.  They are International Court and the 1982 law of the sea (not at San Francisco).  Le Cong Phung said the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is planning to bring this matter to the International Court.  That is a very positive step.  According to you, you have said that due to the White Paper and the public dissemination of the White Paper, as well as the announcement of the Committee on the Protection of Territorial Sovereignty on 15 September this year, as well as my statements on Free Asia Radio, the VC have hitherto shut up about confirming the loss of the Paracels. Now they acknowledge that “the Paracels completely belong to China” and said that “many people demand to bring the matter to the international court and to the UN’s attention”, and “we plan to...”

For years, many have asked me:  what is the solution to the Paracel-Spratley issues? My answer is “the international court”, and nothing else can be done apart from the international court.  With the international court solution, the question is who has the right to bring the issues up, and who is responsible for bringing them to court.  Territory and territorial waters problems are those pertaining to a nation, and only member nations of the UN can raise the matter with the international court. The nation in case is the SRVN.  That is why I demand that the SRVN government have the responsibility of raising that matter, and I demand that the VN Communist Party order the SRVN government to do that, as we are merely private individuals, and being those who love the country, we can only demand that they defend the rights and interests of our ancestral land.

    To mention the international court solution is to have to play the game of the law of the sea that is internationally proclaimed.  To speak up about “national sovereignty” that President Bush points to, and to call for conflict resolution through the laws (the sea law and the international court) like the US State Department and Ambassador Milachak do about playing the sea law game as such, those are not solutions by force.

    About this question, last May, while attending the ceremony for fallen soldiers in Hawaii, I had a chat with Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander-in-Chief of the US forces in the Pacific Ocean region about the CC threat and about bringing the matter to the UN to warn them.  Afterwards, I sent him some documents.  On 30 June, at the Shangri-La Conference in Singapore, he stated that no-one can defeat the US, and if there is any conflict, the law of the sea is there to be used in resolving it. Milachak’s statement is also within those limits.

    That is what the whole world wishes for. That is the rule of the game of civilized countries and of the international community, wanting to maintain order and peace for humanity that way.

LKT: However Professor, if we may, we would like to quote Mr. Le Cong Phung who said that even if Vietnam wanted to bring the matter up, but CC would not sit down in conference and discuss it, then there is no way it can be done. And so, what does this all mean?

Prof Canh: Yes! That is correct. They may not want to. This should not be an excuse to shirk responsibility however.  Even if they agreed to come to the table “in conference,” to participate in the international court arising from what the VC pursued as such, and suppose victory is awarded to the “claimant” side this I am one thousand per cent sure VC would win, with all that is presented in the White Paper complete with historical, legal as well as geographical aspects (although just outlined sufficiently for drafting a prosecuting document).  Our national assets include the whole of the Paracels even though it is now occupied.  As for the Spratleys, they are so far south, the CC can do nothing, having no justification in claiming their rights over them.  Even with the Paracels, in geographical context, based on the 1968 National Geographic Society map that has also been used in the book “Dia Ly Bien Dong voi Hoang Sa va Truong Sa” [The Geography of  the Eastern Sea (South China Sea) with the Paracels and Spratleys] by Vu Huu San, who demonstrates that the Paracels belong to Vietnam.  For instance Tri Ton island that I have often mentioned, is so close to our Da Nang coast.  That island is only 123 nautical miles from the Vietnamese coast, while an island closest to the Chinese continent is at a further distance. This is not to mention the Paracels lies on the land that is linked to Vietnam continent.  In 1925, the Nha Trang Institute of Marine Science sent a group of French scientists to the Paracels to carry out research there. They found that the Paracels is a submerged part of Vietnam’s continent, whereas to the north, there are two gullies thousands of metres deep separating the Paracels from Chinese mainland.  Therefore the Paracels can never belong to China.  Based on that point alone, we could win the case.  Let alone the historical aspects, as Prof Tran Huy Bich of the University of Southern California has listed ample documents with diverse sources demonstrating that these two groups of islands have belonged to Vietnam since ancient times.  As for legal aspects, I have used a book written by Prof Monique Chemillier- Gendreau of the University of Paris to prove the Vietnamese ownership of those two archipelagos.

    Now suppose CC do not agree to the court’s decision, what can we do? In reality, the international court’s judgment in this case is unopposable except when there is a resolution by the UN Security Council.  At the UNSC however, there must be a consensus of the five Permanent Members or 9 out of 15 members. CC, however, is one of the five permanent members.  CC will use a right to veto.  To lobby for a resolution in this case is not an easily achieved task.  Especially the SRVN has neither capacity nor prestige internationally, or perhaps the lowest of prestige even if they sat in the Security Council.  Therefore, the decision will not be reached, even carried out.  This international organization has no agency to “enforce” the court’s decisions.  Thus, we can do nothing.  At least we can use such basis for future action: to establish an internationally justified course of action.  Statement by Bush, the US State Department, by Michalak and as have been reflected at the Shangri-La Conference... are symbolic international support for the Vietnamese people’s cause.  At the same time international communities’ interests in the South China Sea are important factors to help  us protect the inherited assets that our ancestors defended with their blood for us and have transferred them to us. Maybe in ten or more years, there will be other actions to be taken.  The question is firstly the VC must embark on the course of action; secondly we must create an institution capable of mobilizing the people’s power, instead of the present VC policy to terrorize and divide the masses. We need strengths in national economy and solidarity... With that I am sure we could regain in strength what has been robbed by the Beijing hegemonic clique with the complicity of the VC.
Demanding the return of lost territory or preventing Beijing’s continuing on with occupation that way will attract international support.  That is very important, for the sake of world order, nobody can oppose, or contravene the international peace and order objectives as the mad men did in the  last century. If that happens, the result is that those mad men will reap tragic consequences.

CC’s scheme is to prolong the occupation as much as possible, to create an accomplished fact (fait accompli) and in 100 years, no one would be able to do anything about it.  And this is a crime committed by Ho Chi Minh and his Communist Party of Vietnam that have helped CC realize that objective.

    Thus at least, the overseas Vietnamese must have a duty do something to lay the foundation for future protection of the fatherland, even in longer terms.

Please look at the images I have illustrated below about the fortified structures erected on islands of Paracels and Spratley, you will get an idea of that danger.  Also look at the buildings constructed around in the Ban Gioc waterfall area, you will find out CC’s ambitions.

LKT: The detailed overview of Prof Dr Nguyen Van Canh on the Sino-Viet border, on the Gulf of Tonkin, on the protocol on fishing between Vietnam and China, on the Paracels and Spratleys and the current relations between Vietnam, China and the US is very comprehensive.  And so Professor, after having been shown such a general picture by you, we as overseas Vietnamese although with no power in our hands, without an exile government, we feel that we have a responsibility, a responsibility of people who love their country.  With such a responsibility, in your opinion Professor, what should we do about the question which I quote if I may from you that ‘‘when the country is in danger, it’s every ordinary citizen’s responsibility.’ 

Prof Canh: This question is extremely difficult to have a good answer under the present circumstances. And everywhere I went over the last decades I have been asked what you can do to restore our fatherland, the Paracels, the Spratleys and etc... My answer has been: ‘I am only a refugee from the communist peril. As an intellectual, I know what I must do within my own ability.  At least with this White Paper on the Paracels and the Spratleys, we inform and warn the world that this is a great danger.  This great danger is not only for the Vietnamese people, but also for the whole world.  That is why in the letter that I drafted, which has been sent to the General Secretary and 192 members of the UN as well as to governments all over the world, we raise the alarm to enable them to think about and prepare for the ugliest situation that, I think, would occur. Solving that ugliest of situations will entail solving the issues of Vietnam. Vietnamese people’s rights and interests go in parallel with those of the whole world. That is the maintenance of peace and order, firstly in the region, and this region is intimately related to the whole world.


Below are a few figures and locations extracted from the document “VẤN ĐỀ BIÊN GIỚI GIỮA VIỆT NAM VÀ TRUNG QUỐC” [The Sino-Vietnamese Border Issues] published by the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1979 (Nhà Xuất Bản Sự Thật, Hà Nội, 1979; Also see, Library of Congress Online Catalog).  This document shows that Le Cong Phung has told complete lies about:

1. The 1 km + difference along all the 1450 km length of border.

a. The Trinh Truong, Quang Ninh area.  This area is 6 km long and more than 1 km deep in Vietnamese territory has been taken by CC.  This area is now merged into Dong Tam commune, Dong Hung. The border is set back to Khau Truc mount in Vietnam.

b. And so are the Thanh Loa village of Cao Loc district of Lang Son, Kham Khau Village of Cao Bang, Ta Lung, Ta Phu Phin, and Minh Tan villages of Ha Tuyen.  The Nam Chay village of Hoang Lien Son (this village is 4 km long and over 1 km deep) also lie within CC territory now.  At Nam Chay village particularly, Vietnam lost an area about 300 hectares. In total there are 40 similar locations along the border that have been occupied by CC and their migrants have been brought in to replace Vietnamese inhabitants.

c. Right at the Nam Quan pass, in 1955, Ho Chi Minh asked Mao Zedong to extend the railroad from China into Vietnam by 300m in order to join both sides to facilitate communication. Mao agreed and after a while Ho said that the Vietnamese border lies 300m north of the tracks joint as it had existed for hundreds of years.  Ho was told that the border is where the two rail tracks are linked together.  Ho kept quiet.  That was not all.  Later CC troops carried the border marker no. 18 on national highway 1 at the Nam Quan pass and put it inside Vietnam by another 200m.  Thus ½ km was lost in total.

Fig.1. The main part of Ban Gioc fall to the north
now belongs to CC and its name changed to
Detian Fall (Chinese Premier Spectacular Scenery).


Fig. 2. The minor part to the south still belongs to Vietnam.
Nguồn bài viết: blogger Măng
Nguồn ảnh: blogger Điếu Cày

    d. They moved border markers, No.136 in Cao Bang, Nos. 41, 42, 43 in Lang Son of the Kum Mu, Kim Ngan and Mau Son areas (9 km length) 2.5 km deep into inland Vietnam.  The lost area is 1000 hectares.  Also the Na Pang Keo Trinh area (posts 29, 30, 31) in Cao Bang, 6.45 km long, 1.3 km deep into Vietnamese territory now becomes part of CC territory.  The area lost is 200 hectares.

e. Ban Gioc fall, situated north of the border marker no. 53 in Dam Thuy village, Trung Khanh district of Cao Bang, on the Qui Thuan river was part of Vietnam.  CC sent 2 thousand troops into Vietnamese territory to cast a reinforced concrete barrier across the tributary river at the border, redrew the map and occupied part of Ban Gioc fall and also took over Po Thoong of Vietnam.
    f. Using armed forces to force the Vietnamese out and occupy their homes and land, they then sent CC migrants over and settle here.

2. The High Grounds

Finally, Le cong Phung stated that “there are six remaining high points” out of 27 points and “we bring the border line to run through those high points.”

This statement implies that the above-mentioned 27 high spots belong to Vietnam, therefore lie in Vietnamese territory.  CC had occupied all these 27 spots.  At present, thanks to “vigorous struggle” CC have returned them except for six high spots.  These six high points are understood as the mountain ranges lying along the border.  Now Phung has “succeeded” in bringing the border up to those high spots, thus no land was lost.

This admission, if true, is a self-condemnation of a concession of a land area measured north from the middle of the ridges of those six above ranges.

In addition, how could Phung answer about those following mountain ranges:
-    The ranges 1250, 1545, 1509, 772 and 233 of Ha Giang province were taken by CC. The 1509 range part of the land of Thanh Thuy village, Vi Xuyen district is known Nui Dat, to have fallen into CC hands and CC have changed its name to Lao Son.  The 1250 range was Nui Bac in Vietnam.  CC have changed it to Giai Am Son.

These high grounds are Vietnamese strategic spots in the defense against northern armed invasions previously.  These ranges are now transferred to CC.

-    The 820 and 636 ranges of Quoc Khanh village, Trang Dinh district, Lang Son, lying next to Nam Quan pass to the west, adjacent to National Highway 1, also have become CC property.  And the Binh Do 400 area of Cao Loc district, Lang Son, behind the border marker no. 26, to the east of National Highway 1 suffers the same fate.  These ranges were also essential areas of defense, preventing invaders from the North.  Here, thanks to the rugged terrain, our ancestors defeated their enemies.  Losing these areas, Vietnam will have much difficulty in protecting her territory.

With the evidence shown above, how could the Vietnamese Communist Party reply to the Vietnamese people that only one km was lost?


Phung stated:
-    “We divided the Gulf of Tonkin with China based on international law... When the agreement was signed, if we compared the area between ours and that of China, ours would be larger by eight thousand square kilometres.  We did not have any loss.  Why did China accept the fact that we gained 8000 sq. km? It is because out coastline is concave, it curves in like this, while the Chinese coast at Hainan curves out like this... To say we lost 10 thousand sq. metres (sic) is nonsense, not at all correct. We do not wish to say concretely either how it was divided when it was divided... It may also happen while negotiating; China volunteered to donate us 3000 sq. km elsewhere to take over only 150 sq. km here.  But we did not agree, we did not want to occupy water, of what use is the water surface area... We think of what is underneath, which maintains our ownership of the land, at the same time our national interests.”

My question: Phung stressed international law as basis for “negotiation”.  He especially emphasized the 1885 Tien Tsin Agreement as foundation for negotiation to conclude that not only 10,000 sq. km were not lost (not 10,000 sq. metres as stated above), but also a gain of 8000 sq. km that CC ‘donated to VC’. Moreover, CC also volunteered a gift for VC of 3000 sq. km, in return CC only wanted 150 sq. km which the VC did not agree to..., and managed to ‘maintain our ownership of the land, and our national interests.’

    With the above statement, VC  boasted to have achieved ‘great success’ in negotiating with the greedy Han descended enemy, even though every one know that CC would customarily crib on inches (not kilometres) of Vietnamese land.  Several cases similar to the above have happened and are well-known and the VNCP has denounced it but Phung boldly covered up.  There are many areas that the Party forbids people to frequent.  They are either deep in the forest or far in the Gulf of Tonkin.  In such situations, who would have the means and opportunity to investigate the true situation there?

    Phung appeared ‘outwardly’ pleased, if not proud when he stated that CC have ‘donated us’ 8000 sq. km., and the CC also voluntarily gave another 3000 sq. km that ‘we’ did not [want to] take, in exchange for only 150 sq. km.

The question is related to the aspects of dividing the Gulf of Tonkin area originated from the Tien Tsin Agreement signed by France and the Ming dynasty in 1885.  To carry out this agreement, both sides signed a document called the 1887 Convention in which the border in the gulf area was defined.  In this area, they drew a map dividing the Gulf into 2.  On the map, they drew a line straight north-south starting from Mong Cai, running through Tra Co island down to the mouth of the gulf: On the eastern side, at a point on Hainan Island, on the western side is Con Co Island of Vietnam.

    That line was named the Red Line.  In the Convention it is called the border demarcation line in the Gulf.

    The Tien Tsin agreement signed by France’s Patrenotre and the Ming dynasty’s Ly Hung Chang. Iin June 1887, both sides signed another instrument called Convention of 1887.  Both of the instruments constitute international laws.  Those documents have been carried out for more than a hundred years.  And the Red Line is the border demarcation in the Gulf.  Now CC demanded a review of this gulf division with a plot to occupy more of Vietnamese territorial waters.  CC wantonly insisted that the red line is merely an “administrative” line that divided the islands in this area, and demanded to cancel it in order to establish a new border line.  The VC had conceded and redrawn that line which now runs through 21 points in the middle of the gulf to divide the gulf in halves according to the 2000 agreement.  The VC have given in and yielded a portion of territorial waters to CC.
How much was yielded?

The total area of the Gulf is 123,700 sq. km.  And the 1887 Convention stipulated that Vietnam owned 63% or 77,931 sq. km, while China has 37% or 45,769 sq. km.  With the new agreement CC gained from 37% to 46% or 56,902 sq. km., and VC have ceded 11,133 sq. km.

Posted on 07 Mar 2009

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