Vietnam objects to Chinese stamp featuring disputed islands

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A Vietnamese philately club has objected to China's release of a new stamp that falsely and illegally depicts islands in Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago as belonging to China, ICT News reported Monday.

The "Beautiful China" six stamp set was officially introduced in celebration of China's Tourism Day, May 19, said the Viet Stamp Club (VSC), part of the Ho Chi Minh City Stamp Association, in a complaint sent to the Ministry of Information and Communications on Monday.

While five stamps feature scenic spots within Chinese territory, one stamp priced 1.2 yuan (US$0.2) and printed by the Chinese postal department, China Post, shows seven of Vietnam's An Vinh (Amphitrite) Islands in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago, which China has illegally occupied since 1974, VSC said.

"China Post uses the excuse of promoting tourism to propagandize on behalf of the so-called "˜Sansha' city via postal stamps," it said.

Sansha is a prefecture that China established last July that includes parts of Vietnam's Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes, over which China also claims sovereignty.

"The Viet Stamp Club proposes that Ministry of Information and Communications and Vietnam Stamp Association officially object to the China Post's publishing of a postal stamp that seriously violates Vietnam's sovereignty over Hoang Sa," it said, noting that the China Post had done something similar in 2004 when it issued a set of stamps featuring Vietnam's Hoang Sa.

VSC also proposed that the communications ministry approve the issuance of a stamp set themed "Vietnamese waters and islands" aimed at affirming Vietnam's sea sovereignty. 

China and four ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are embroiled in sovereignty disputes over the resource-rich East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, with China being the biggest claimant.

China has taken many actions to stake its claims, including proclaiming a unilateral 11 week seasonal fishing ban in the waters surrounding Hoang Sa and sending a massive fishing fleet to Truong Sa last month.

Vietnam has repeatedly protested Chinese actions. Among its latest countermoves was an exhibition in Ha Tinh Province from June 2-8, which displayed historical documents and maps that prove both the two archipelagoes belong to Vietnam.

Among the exhibits were three atlases published in 1908, 1919 and 1933 with maps created by cartographers from China's Qing Dynasty in 1906 that show the southernmost point of China as Hainan Island, clearly showing that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa lay outside China's borders. 

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