China’s nine-dash line historical claim to 85.7 percent of the South China Sea has been exposed as the fake history of the millennium. An arbitral tribunal formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) has ruled with finality that China’s claim has no basis in fact and in law. However, China and its propagandists have also invoked other falsities to claim the islands enclosed by its nine-dash line.
First, China and its propagandists claim that the Cairo Declaration of Nov. 27, 1943 awarded the Spratlys and the Paracels to China. The Cairo Declaration was the official statement resulting from the Cairo Conference among US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chinese President Chiang Kai-Shek. One of the purposes of the conference was to strip Japan of the territories it illegally seized from other countries in the last two world wars.
The Cairo Declaration, however, never awarded the Spratlys and the Paracels to China. The Cairo Declaration stated that “all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, including Manchuria, Formosa, shall be restored to the Republic of China.” The Spratlys and the Paracels were not seized or stolen by Japan from China. Japan seized the Paracels from the French and the Spratlys were unoccupied by any state when Japan established a submarine base in Itu Aba in 1939. In fact, in the 1943 China Handbook, an official publication of the Republic of China delineating China’s territory, China did not claim the Spratlys. The Cairo Declaration stated that “Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed.” The Spratlys and the Paracels fall under these “all other territories,” which were not awarded to any state in the Cairo Declaration.
Second, China and its propagandists claim that the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, issued by US President Harry Truman, UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chinese President Chiang Kai-Shek, awarded the Paracels and the Spratlys to China. However, the Potsdam Declaration merely reiterated the Cairo Declaration. The Potsdam Declaration stated that the “terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we shall determine.” The Spratlys and the Paracels were not awarded to China.
Third, China and its propagandists claim that the San Francisco Peace Conference of 1951 awarded the Spratlys and the Paracels to China. Nothing could be farther from the truth. China, under the People’s Republic of China ruled by the Communists, denounced the 1951 San Francisco Peace Teary as illegal since China was not represented at the Peace Conference. The USSR’s motion to award the Spratlys and the Paracels to China was overwhelmingly rejected by the Peace Conference by a vote of 64 to 3, with one abstention. The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty rejected the award of the Spratlys and the Paracels to China.
Finally, China and its propagandists claim that since the US has its 1823 Monroe Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere, China should also have its nine-dash line doctrine in the South China Sea. This claim is as ingenious as it is specious. Under the Monroe Doctrine, the US never claimed any territory of countries in Central or South America. Neither did the US claim any maritime area or resources in the Caribbean Sea beyond the then three-nautical-
mile territorial sea recognized under international law. Even up to now, the US is not claiming any maritime area or resources beyond what Unclos allows as the US, unlike China, fully respects the exclusive economic zones of Central and South American countries.
The Monroe Doctrine forbade the European imperialist powers from reestablishing their colonies in Central and South America. China’s nine-dash line seizes the island territories and maritime zones of Asean coastal states as well as the high seas of the South China Sea, establishing China as the imperialist superpower in the region. The day that China’s former Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping has warned the world about in 1974 — that should China become an imperialist superpower bullying and exploiting weaker states, then the world should unite to overthrow the Chinese government—has dawned on us.