Article: The tiny islands that could explode the China-Vietnam relationship

“Named by 16th century Portuguese mapmakers, the Paracels are a collection of 130 small coral islands and reefs in the northwestern part of the South China Sea. They support abundant marine life. But more than being just a rich fishing ground, there is speculation the islands could harbor potential energy reserves.They have no indigenous population to speak of, only Chinese military garrisons amounting to 1,400 people, according to the CIA Factbook.”

“But there is no certainty on who really owns them. Ask one expert and the answer will be Vietnam has the strongest claim. Ask another and the reply will be China.”

Historical / political arguments over who own a particular piece of land are great examples of problems with “obvious facts.” Each country has its own evidence in support of the “obvious fact” that the disputed territory belongs to them.