HA NOI — An old map presented to the Viet Nam National Museum of History on Wednesday has been highlighted as a valuable artefact for Viet Nam in confirming the country's sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) islands.
|Drawn out: Researcher Mai Ngoc Hong explains a Chinese map dating back to 1904 that he has dedicated to the Viet Nam National Museum of History. — File Photo
Published in 1904 by the Qing dynasty, the map shows the extent of Chinese territory a hundred years ago and backs up Viet Nam's ownership of the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa islands by showing these archipelagos were not part of Chinese territory at the time.
The map was given to the museum by Dr Mai Ngoc Hong, a former official of the Institute of Han Nom (Han Chinese and Vietnamese ideography script) Research.
Hong bought the map of China from an old book trader in 1977. He spent more than one month's salary to purchase it.
The map was printed in colour by the Shanghai publishing house, and measures 115cm by 140cm.
After holding onto the map for more than 30 years, Hong has decided to release the historical evidence with a translation by himself into Vietnamese.
Hong said that he had to copy the map before translating it as handling the map too often would damage it.
"Actually I forget the map during the years," said Hong. "I think this map will be a most invaluable evidence that helps Vietnamese people confirm their sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands in the East Sea during talks on the issue with neighbouring countries. So I decided to announce my move to hand over the map."
According to the translation, Chinese emperors during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) ordered scientists to survey the extent of land in 13 Chinese provinces across their nation. The Chinese scientists had help to map out their territory from Western priests such as Matteo Bicci, Joannes Adam Schall Von Bell and Ferdinandus Verbiest, who carried out geographic researches to help complete the map.
In 1904, the Shanghai publishing house printed the map and distributed it to all provinces under the rule of the Qing, the last imperial dynasty of China. The introduction of the map written by the director of a Chinese observatory showed that Hainan Island marked the southern end of Chinese territory.
The hundred-year map was drawn in a relatively modern style, according to Duong Trung Quoc, general secretary of the Viet Nam History Science Association.
"The map is not only of historical value but it is a scientific evidence showing Viet Nam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands," said Quoc.
The Viet Nam National Museum of History will preserve the map with a view to introducing it to the public, including foreigner visitors, said Dr Vu Quoc Hien, director of the museum. — VNS