"PRESENCE ON THE EAST SEA" – Message affirming Vietnam's continuous journey to exercise Paracel – Spratly sovereignty at the Ancient Map Documentation Gallery - Museum of Oceanography

Carrying out marine scientific research tasks, the Institute of Oceanography, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, is storing a set of maps (including 740 maps) of the Vietnam Sea and the East Sea. These maps were mostly published by the French from the eighteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth century. Over a very long storage period, maps published in the French era have seriously deteriorated due to the physical condition of the drawing paper being changed, in danger of rotting and no longer of use. In order to preserve historical scientific materials to promote maritime and island sovereignty and serve the diplomatic struggle, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology has assigned the Institute of Oceanography to carry out the task "Restoring and building a database of ancient French maps of the Vietnam and East Seas" (Code: NVKH17.00/23-23). The mission's key product, a map display with the theme "PRESENCE ON THE EAST SEA" at the Museum of Oceanography, has opened its doors to the public on the occasion of the 101st anniversary of the Institute of Oceanography on September 14, 2023.

"PRESENCE ON THE EAST SEA" displays 18 maps published from 1747 to 1946, selected among 414 restored maps, arranged according to 03 main themes including: 1/Paracel - Spratly imprint of Vietnam in ancient documents; 2/The journey to exercise Vietnam's sovereignty over the two Paracel – Spratly Islands; and 3/Sea and islands with socio-economy.

Coming to the exhibition area, visitors will see firsthand the original maps published based on the data of the survey trips "Mission Hydrographique en Indochine" conducted by the French Navy and materials from the survey trips (1925 – 1939) of the ship De Lanessan of the Indochina Oceanographic Institute (now the Institute of Oceanography) in the East Sea; maps depicting the continental shelf and islands in the waters of Vietnam, the flow on the continental shelf of the East Sea from the Gulf of Tonkin to the Gulf of Thailand, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands, in order to serve fisheries and navigation activities in these waters,  such as warning of areas of dangerous depth for fishing in the Spratly Islands (1925-1931), locating the construction of lighthouses, TFS radio stations and hydrometeorological stations in the Paracel Islands (1938-1939), describing coral reefs in the Spratly Islands (1938).

"PRESENCE ON THE EAST SEA" is a communication message about Vietnam's continuous exercise of sovereignty in the East Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands, through documents on scientific research activities. Throughout history, Vietnam's scientific research activities have continued to protect marine environmental resources and contribute to peacekeeping in the East Sea.

Some pictures of the Ancient Map Exhibition "PRESENCE ON THE EAST SEA" at the Oceanographic Museum

Translated by Phuong Ha
Link to Vietnamese version

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