Overseas Vietnamese Write Books About Homeland’s Sea and Islands

Nguyen Thanh Tong, an overseas Vietnamese in France who has written two books on Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly), received two prizes from the writing competition "Inviolable Sovereignty of the Seas and Islands."

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Overseas Vietnamese Write Books About Homeland's Sea and Islands
Nguyen Thanh Tong, an overseas Vietnamese in France and two books he wrote about the sea and islands of his homeland.

Revive memories with Truong Sa through books

Nguyen Thanh Tong, an overseas Vietnamese in France had the opportunity to visit Truong Sa (Spratly) in 2016. The trip was organized by the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs – Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 10-day journey with a delegation of overseas Vietnamese including 80 people from 22 countries to the sea and islands of his homeland left him with many unforgettable memories.

Four years later, his daughter asked him about his travels; “Do you remember this day four years ago, where you were and what you were doing?”

That question prompted him to share his experiences. He suddenly thought about how we tell our children and grandchildren about the legacy of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos, a sacred part of the country.

From that concern, he decided to write down what he saw and heard in Truong Sa.

He has released a picture book “Homeland Sea and Island” (Bien dao que huong) with a length of nearly 200 pages. When writing the book, the author did not set great expectations.

He just wants to help his children, grandchildren, and those who have not had the opportunity to come to Truong Sa to understand the life of the naval soldiers, with the difficult life (lack of green vegetables, freshwater, family and other necessities).

However, they still protect the sovereignty of the homeland’s sea and island day and night. The book was sponsored by the Vietnamese Cultural Center in France and published in Paris.

Historical and legal basis for asserting sovereignty over sea and islands

After that success, Nguyen Thanh Tong continued to write the second book “Sea and islands – history and law” (Bien dao lich su va phap ly). From research materials, he has summarized them into 13 chapters, with more than 250 pages.

The book gives convincing arguments to prove that the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos belong to Vietnam. It also opposes baseless allegations against China’s plots in the South China Sea.

Overseas Vietnamese Write Books About Homeland's Sea and Islands
Nguyen Thanh Tong, an overseas Vietnamese in France took a photo with Truong Sa soldiers in 2016.

The book “Sea and islands – history and law” is useful for those who have not had the opportunity to learn about the Spratly and Paracel Islands. For generations born and raised outside of Vietnam, with few opportunities to learn about the sea and islands of their homeland, this is a valuable resource.

The author wants to help them find their roots, understand more about the sacred sovereignty of the sea and islands of Vietnam.

When reading the book, readers will be able to answer the complex questions about islands such exactly how Truong Sa and Hoang Sa belongs to Vietnam.

Also, readers will learn how many times China invaded Vietnam’s seas and islands, begging the question about why does China want to turn the South China Sea into its “home pond?”

How is that ambition expressed by China? What is the attitude of the international community to China’s claim? What do scholars in the world say about sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa Islands? These questions and more will be answered by Nguyen Thanh Tong book.

Overseas Vietnamese Write Books About Homeland's Sea and Islands
Author Nguyen Thanh Tong (third from left) donated books in France.

In addition to the arguments proving the legal history and sovereignty of the two archipelagoes – Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, the book also provides memories of people who lived in Hoang Sa from 1938 to 1941.

Illustrating the stories are photographs, relics that are no longer the private property of a family, but have become living proof of the nation’s sovereignty.

Rosie Nguyen