Tensions in South China Sea have intensified, as a United Nations tribunal ruling on maritime disputes between China and the Philippine approaches. The Philippines filed an arbitration case challenging China’s claims in the region. While China argued its 'indisputable sovereignty' is based on historical evidence. Li Guoqing, Deputy Director of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences explained China's historical claims.
When did China begin exercising jurisdiction in South China Sea? What are China's historical claims to the South China Sea?
Chinese people began navigation activities dating back to Qin and Han Dynasties. According to historical data, Chinese people have already named the South China Sea since the Eastern Han Dynasty. The Chinese people first named the South China Sea " Zhang Hai" . In Song Dynasty, Chinese people have a clearer picture about the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, as they were referred to as " Shi Tang" and "Chang Sha". There are hundreds of historical documents and maps that can prove this. In ancient times, Chinese people mainly develop the South China Sea by two ways: opening to new sea routes and developing the fishery industry. In Han Dynasty, Chinese people had developed a sea route from Southeast coastal regions, through Xisha islands and Nansha Islands of China, to Southeast Asian countries --known as the Maritime Silk Road. For a long time, Chinese people was the most important and perhaps the only navigator alongside the Maritime Silk Road. The Chinese people were the first to discover, name and develop these islands. The Chinese government first began exercising administrative jurisdiction over the South China Sea in Tang and Song Dynasties. In Song Dynasty, Chinese government has established the Chinese Navy to safe guard the waters in the South China Sea. And in Ming and Qing Dynasty, it became more systematic for the Chinese Navy to safe guard peace and stability in the region. Based on the above historical facts and abundant historical data, we can say that the South China Sea islands have been China's territory since ancient times. The facts are clear, evidence is sufficient. Chinese government's stance over the South China Sea issue is unshakable.