The Paracel Islands (islands and reefs in the South China Sea and part of the South China Sea Islands , about one-third of the way from Vietnam to the Philippines. The Paracel Islands belonged to Vietnam until they were occupied by the People's Republic of China in 1974.
The Paracel Islands are surrounded by productive fishing grounds and by potential oil and gas reserves.
Before 1932, Paracel Islands was placed on the map of Vietnam by the Nguyen Dynasty.
In 1932, French Indochina annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island.
In 1939, Empire of Japan invaded and occupied it.
In 1946, on the basis of Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Declaration, the Republic of China took control of these islands.
In 1951, at the San Francisco Conference on the Treaty of San Francisco with Japan, which does not formally state which nations are sovereign over these islands, Vietnam's representative claimed that both the Paracel and Spratly Islands are territory of Vietnam, and was met with no challenge from the nations at the conference. However neither the People's Republic of China nor the Republic of China (Taiwan) were invited to the San Francisco Peace Conference and therefore neither signed this treaty.
After the French left in 1956, South Vietnam replaced the French in controlling the islands.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) has controlled the Paracel Islands since January 19, 1974, when its troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison occupying the western islands in the battle of Hoang Sa 1974.
The islands are also claimed by the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Vietnam. Along with the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands are considered part of the Hainan Province by the People's Republic of China. It is currently controlled and administered by the People's Republic of China.
The islands have no indigenous inhabitants. The PRC announced plans in 1997 to open the islands for tourism. The small Chinese port facilities on Woody Island and Duncan Island are being expanded. There is currently one airport.
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