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Qing dynasty map dated 1904 does not included Vietnam Paracels Spratlys Islands

(Last update on 2/23/2013 at 13:44) 

皇 朝 直 省 地 輿 全 圖, ᡩᠠᡳᠴᡳᠩ ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ, 大清, 大清, Daiqing gurun, Hoàng triều trực tỉnh địa dư toàn đồ, map of china 1904 has no paracels and spratlys islands, map of china 1904

The China's all-provinces Imperial map created under the Qing Dynasty, published in 1904, states that the southernmost pole of China is Hainan, not showing the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

In July 2012, after holding the old map for more than 30 years, and with thorough researching and translating notes printed on the map, Dr. Mai Hong, the former Head of the Library Records Department of the Viet-Sino Institute, shared his conclusion as shown in the following interviewing:

* Can you tell how this map reach to your hands?

- I obtained the map sometime in 1977-1978, during that time, my duty was to manage a large storage of Viet-Sino materials. Interestingly, the collection of mapping documents was not part of my scope. Frankly, I did not understand what luck caused an old book salesman named Nguyen Van Cong who used to sell old books to the Institute, introduced the map and advised me to buy it. I took out more than a month of my salary to buy the map without telling my family about the spending.

* We were told that the map was known to be developed with skillful handwork. Wasn’ it?

- It is true. The China's all-provinces Imperial map was published by Shanghai Publishing company in 1904; was printed in color with hardcover, folded like a book. Inside, there are more than 35 paper patches bonded together on the canvas floor; and thanks to this material, the map remains intact over a long period. The size of each patch is about 16cm x 27.6cm. After reading the Chinese characters on the map, I translated about 600 Chinese words which have clearly explained the origin, time and date of the map.

Accordingly, this is a collection of documents originated from the Qin Dynasty, then Han Dynasty, and was written continuously for nearly two centuries (1708-1904), from the reign of King Kangxi to the reign of King Quang Tu. The map was developed by Western missionaries of knowledgeable Chinese astrologist under direct and personal supervisions of several emperors of the Qing dynasty.

As the matter of fact, in the 47th year Kangxi (1708), initially with the goal of creating a clearer map for the Great Wall, The Kangxi emperor recruited Western missionaries such as Bach Tan Loi Hieu, Tu Do Duc My; however, in 1711, the king changed his mind by sending missionaries to survey the land mas of 13 provinces across the kingdom. From then on, for nearly 200 years, Chinese and Western artists collected Chinese artifact objects, the mapping materials on Chinese territories which were left by the previous efforts of the earlier missions. There are some very famous Western missionaries who have helped to create China map such as Matteo Ricci, Joannes Adam Schall Von Bell, Ferdinandus Verbiest…

In 1904, the Shanghai publishing company officially published a geographic map of al the provinces under Qing dynasty ruling with the introduction of the Superscript, Chief Sai Thuong Chat, the General Director of Xa Son Observatory.

皇 朝 直 省 地 輿 全 圖, ᡩᠠᡳᠴᡳᠩ ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ, 大清, 大清, Daiqing gurun, Hoàng triều trực tỉnh địa dư toàn đồ, map of china 1904 has no paracels and spratlys islands, map of china 1904

The meaning of large Chinese text on the top of this map (read from the right to left: The China's all-provinces Imperial map

* What are the useful historical impacts from this map, Sir?

- In this map, Chief Sai Thuong Chat has very humble words which appreciated the accomplishments of Western missionaries who renown Chinese astrologist and mathematics. The main wording also noted that the map appeared "as clear as in the palm of his hand," especially "at the river openings to coastal areas portraying the waterway vessels sailing to port." All of these wordings have never mentioned anything about any land mass or any islands in the south of Hainan Island.

* What do you have in your mind when deciding to publish this material?

- In my opinion, this original map provides some very good information for the international debate. With a material originated from China itself which will help to prevent us from being continuously bullied. This may also be a good document for use in the study of the sovereignty of islands.


Mai Hồng – Autor

Van Giang Tran – translate Vietnamese to English

Dai Viet Tran – Updated (April 21, 2017) 

http://www.vietnamhistory.info/index.php?option=com_content& (not found 404...April 21, 2017)

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