China says changing position on sea dispute would shame ancestors

Changing position on China’s claims over the South China Sea would shame its ancestors, while not facing up to infringements of Chinese sovereignty there would shame its children, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday.

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year

China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, building artificial islands in areas over which the Philippines and other countries have rival claims, sparking alarm regionally and in Washington, Reuters reported.

“One thousand years ago China was a large sea-faring nation. So of course China was the first country to discover, use and administer the Nansha Islands,” Wang said, using the Chinese term for the Spratly Islands, which together with the Paracel Islands form the bulk of China’s claims.

 “China’s demands of sovereignty over the Nansha Islands have not expanded and neither will they shrink. Otherwise we would not be able to face our forefathers and ancestors,” the normally taciturn Wang said in unusually strong comments.

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

Speaking to academics and former officials, Wang said China could not face its children and grandchildren if “the gradual and incremental invasion of China’s sovereignty and encroachment on China’s interests” was allowed to continue.

He said U.S. ships took Chinese troops to reclaim the Spratlys after they were occupied by Japan during World War Two. Other countries only started occupying what he said was Chinese territory from the 1960s after oil was discovered.

“China is in reality the biggest victim,” Wang said.

On Friday, the U.S. State Department’s number two diplomat compared China’s behavior in pursuit of territory in the South China Sea to that of Russia in eastern Ukraine.

Wang did not address those comments, but defended China’s land reclamation and building work in the South China Sea as necessary to improve living conditions, pointing out that other countries had been building there since the 1970s.

“It is only recently that China has started necessary development,” he said.

Categories: Asia Times News & Features


  • life form

    China’s foreign policy decisions are motivated by the imagined disapproval of ghosts? i doubt it.

  • QX

    Resorting to its ancestors means China has run out of lies.


  • StronzoBestiale

    Chinese dishonourable ancestors can go f*ck themselves.

  • d.g.summers

    Where are the adults?
    Since Asia Times changed (for the worst) its format,
    it appears children have taken over the blog.

  • Son Nghiem

    Chinese government will make their ancestors ashamed by playing the Grater Han mentality in the 21st century. Paracels and Spartly Islands never been Chinese territories. There’s no proof that Vietnam took these islands from China but only the contrary exist: China grabbed them from Vietnam & Philippines. Repeating the mistake of Germany and Japan in WW2 is MAD (Mutually assured Destruction).

  • China Lee

    Paracel Islands (ancient 13th-century Chinese map of Xisha Islands)
    Paracel Islands as shown in Zheng He Voyage Map (the group of rocks at the lower right hand corner)[21]” (Source: “MAO KUN MAP-19” by Mao Kun – mybook. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)


    The Chinese name Xisha (西沙), literally ‘western sands’ or ‘shoals’, is a modern name that distinguishes the Pratas from the ‘eastern sands’ (the Dongsha or Pratas), the ‘southern sands’ (the Nansha or Spratlys), and the ‘central sands’ (the Zhongsha or Macclesfield Bank). The Voyage with the Tail Wind, based on 13th-century Yuan documents but published during the Ming, called the islands the ‘Distant Stony Banks’ (万里石塘, Wànlǐ Shítáng, lit. ‘Myriad-mile Rock Embankment’).[22] The name also appears in the ‘Map of Zheng He’s Voyage’ written in the 1430s.[23]

    21. ^ The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores, Appendix 1 China in Southern Island 万生石塘 annotated as the Paracel Islands by J.V.Mills, White Lotus Press ISBN 974-8496-78-3
    22. ^ 順風相送 [Shùnfēng Xiāng Sòng, Voyage of the Tail Wind]. Hosted at Chinese Wikisource. (Chinese)
    23. ^ “郑和航海图” (Chinese), cited in The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores, App. 1: ‘China in Southern Island’. White Lotus Press. ISBN 974-8496-78-3.”

  • RdmVisit

    Would you be willing to return territory to all the minorities that you took from them one thousand years ago up to the last century?

  • DL

    They just want to use a history, which is beneficial for them. Not to mention, a lot of history from them are simply fake.

  • Daniel Berg

    All histories are FAKED,,,unless you DL chose and decide what is not faked!

  • Daniel Berg

    You very intelligent,,,,,,,

  • ModernChinese

    The Vietnamese are the most aggressive and obnoxious expansionists in Asia. Only for more than 300 years (17 century – 20 century), they invaded, occupied and terminated two ancient beautiful kingdoms of Champa and Chan Lap, murdering most people in these kingdoms in order to cleanse out the locals. These are the most barbarous genocidal crimes in human history, making the American genocide of Native Americans pale in comparison.

    Even before the French were kicked out of Asia, the Vietnamese already started to plan for their next expansion plan to terminate Lao and Cambodia, by creating the Indochina Communist Party in 1930s, in order to establish their wet dream of “Federation of Indochina” (FOI) dominated by Vietnam(!?)

    The naked invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 by Vietnam was just another move in their long dream of FOI in action. Cambodia only escaped this “Vietnam final solution” because China and the whole world prevented them to do so, with the overwhelming, total, and absolute economic embargo imposed on Vietnam throughout 1980s. This embargo brought Vietnam economy to its total collapse that forced Vietnamese people to eat animal feed to survive.

    All the islands in South China Sea (SCS) were declared (again) as inseparable parts of Chinese territories in the China’s Declaration on September 14, 1958 that SPECIFICALLY names the Xi Sha (Paracell) and Nan Sha (Spratlys). Four days latter, the then VN Prime Minister Pham Van Dong sent a VN formal diplomatic statement to Chinese Premier Zhou En-Lai, in which VN solemnly acknowledges and recognizes the Chinese claimed territories.(!?)

    No matter how absurd and recalcitrant is Vietnam, they can NOT change the history and the FACTS that Xi Sha and Nan Sha are the Chinese territories! The only thing they are changing now is to make their VN ancestors ashamed of their descendants’ behavior and the lack of integrity – the basic morals that the Vietnamese ancestors learnt from Chinese and established these standards as foundation of the Vietnamese culture.

  • Hmm….I thought Guangxi, Guangdong, and Yunnan were all belong to Vietnam (Nanyue) before sneaky greedy Han went on military adventurism and stole their land and never return. Vietnam return Cambodia to its people after a full invasion for retaliation for murdered Vietnam peasants in Tay Ninh by Khmer Rouge under the order of China Mao. China is on military adventure again today trying to steal Senkaku islands from Japan and Spartly islands from ASEAN.

  • Rafasa Arandas

    The very existence of the PRC is the true disgrace to the ancestors of Chinese people.

  • ModernChinese

    Your “thoughts” have no values IF they are not backed up by historic facts and official documents. Nanyue was NOT Vietnam, rather, it was established by a general of the late Qin Dynasty by the name of Zhao Tuo whose tomb was discovered in GuangZhou and has been made a museum. Google “Zhao Tuo” and learn a few basic lessons of history, will you?

    As “Vietnam returns Cambodia…”, please learn about the world economic embargo against Vietnam in 1980s. The world obviously DISAGREES with Vietnam “noble mission of liberating Cambodia”.

    Unless you provide facts to back up your opinions, all your statements appear to be meaningless and ignorant at best, at worst, they resemble the Vietnam cheap propaganda. long discredited by the VN Communist blatant deceit and lies.