After Vietnam officially became a French protectorate in 1884, France, which was responsible for Vietnam’s foreign affairs, carried out activities to consolidate the authority over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.
For instance, France planned to build lighthouses in the Paracels in 1899 and sent patrol and scientific research missions to the islands between 1925 and 1927.
In April, 1930, the Governor General of Indochina sent the advice-boat Malicieuse under the command of Post Lieutenant Delattre to the Spratlys. Delattre raised the French flag on the islands, fired a 21-gun salute and wrote a document of officially occupying the Spratlys.
In September of the same year, France sent an announcement to other Great Powers that it had occupied the Spratlys.
In 1933, Governor of Cochinchina J. Krautheimer signed a decree that officially incorporated the Spratlys into Ba Ria Province.
In a decree in 1938, Governor General of Indochina Jules Brévié established an administrative delegation in the Paracels. In the same year, France built a marker, a lighthouse, a meteorological station, and a radio station on this archipelago.
The marker on Pattle Island in the Paracels was inscribed with the words:
"French Republic - Kingdom of Annam - Paracel Archipelago 1816 - Pattle Island 1938”
The marker was built 122 years after King Gia Long (the Nguyen Dynasty’s first king) planted a flag to assert Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels in 1816.
In a decree in 1939, Jules Brévié divided the Paracels into two administrative delegations: “Crescent et Dependences” and “Amphitrite et Dependences.”
Vietnam under France’s protectorate took every opportunity to assert its sovereignty over the Paracels in the East Sea.
In 1925, Minister of Defense Than Trong Hue, on behalf of the Nguyen court, sent a diplomatic note to China, part of which reads: “Hoang Sa always belongs to Vietnam and this is indisputable.”
By an ordinance in 1938, King Bao Dai confirmed the merger of the Paracels with Thua Thien Province. A division of Vietnamese police was regularly stationed there.
One year later, King Bao Dai approved the award of a posthumous medal to Louis Fontan, head of a guard team in Pattle Island. Fontan died at a hospital in Hue, the imperial capital of Vietnam, after suffering malaria while he was on duty in the island.
Video credit: VnExpress
Subtitles: Thanh Nien News