Spratly Islands

Spratly Islands

Spratly Islands, group of about 100 low islands and coral reefs in the central South China Sea, intersecting busy shipping lanes. The whole group is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and parts are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. Various islands, valued primarily for the petroleum and gas potential of the surrounding waters and to a lesser degree for their fishing grounds, are occupied by their claimants. In 1984 Brunei established an exclusive economic zone encompassing Louisa Reef, but it has not claimed the islet. There have been many disputes and some fighting, most notably between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in 1988 and 1992, and the Spratlys remain a source of tension among the claimants. A 2002 agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China called for all claimants to avoid activities that would heighten tensions over the islands. In 2004, China and the Philippines signed agreements to stop illegal fishing and to explore jointly for oil in the islands; the bilateral accord was criticized by Vietnam.

Group of several dozen small islands and reefs, south-central South China Sea. Located about midway between Vietnam and the Philippines, the group is claimed variously by Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Of the 12 main islets, the largest is the 90-acre (36-hectare) Itu Aba. Turtles and seabirds are the only permanent inhabitants. After World War II, China established a garrison on Itu Aba, which has been maintained by the Chinese government on Taiwan. All other claimants also have small military forces on several of the islands.

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The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 100 reefs, islets and islands occupying in total less than five square kilometres and spread over more than 400,000 square kilometres of sea. The sea in question is the South China Sea and the location is between the Philippines and Vietnam. The Spratlys are part of the great sweep of archipelago Southeast Asia which totals more than 30,000 and which so complicates geography, governance and economics in the region. As these are so small and remote, there would not be much interest in the area - however, the islands are more important as territorial markers than as places of habitation. There are no native islanders but there are rich fishing grounds and initial surveys indicate the islands may contain significant oil and gas.

About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from People's Republic of China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Brunei has established a fishing zone that overlaps a southern reef but has not made any formal claim. The Islands are located in the Southeastern Asian group of reefs and islands in the South China Sea, about two-thirds of the way from southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines.

Geography and economic development

  • Coordinates: (Spratly Island)
  • Area (land): less than 5 km²
    • note: includes 148 or so islets, coral reefs, and seamounts scattered over an area of nearly 410,000 km² of the central South China Sea
  • Coastline: 926 km
  • Political divisions:
  • Climate: tropical
  • Terrain: flat
  • Elevation extremes:
    • lowest point: South China Sea (0 m)
    • highest point: unnamed location on Southwest Cay (4 m)
  • Natural hazards: typhoons; serious maritime hazards because of numerous banks, reefs and shoals

The islands contain no arable land and have no indigenous inhabitants, although twenty of the islands, including Itu Aba, the largest, are considered to be able to sustain human life. Natural resources include fish, guano, undetermined oil and natural gas potential. Economic activity is limited to commercial fishing. The proximity to nearby oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins suggests the potential for oil and gas deposits, but the region is largely unexplored, and there are no reliable estimates of potential reserves. Commercial exploitation has yet to be developed. The Spratly Islands have no ports or harbors but have four airports. These islands are strategically located near several primary shipping lanes.

Early history

The first possible recorded human interaction with the Spratly Islands dates back as far as 3 B.C. This is based on the discovery that the people of Nanyue (southern China and northern Vietnam) and Old Champa kingdom fishermen (modern-day central Vietnam) had been visiting the Spratly Islands and other South China Sea Islands for fishing.

Ancient Chinese maps record the Qianli Changsha (千里長沙) and Wanli Shitang (萬里石塘), which China today claims refer to these islands. These islands were labeled as Chinese territory since the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century, followed by the Ming Dynasty. When the Ming Dynasty collapsed, the Qing Dynasty continued to include the territory in maps complied in 1724, 1755, 1767, 1810, 1817 by the Qing Dynasty of China.

Ancient Vietnamese maps record Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, as claimed today by Vietnam referring to both Paracel and Spratly Islands) which lies near the Coast of the central Vietnam as early as the 17th century. In Phủ Biên Tạp Lục (Frontier Chronicles) by the scholar Le Quy Don, Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa were defined as belonging to Quảng Ngãi District. He described it as where sea products and shipwrecked cargoes were available to be collected. Vietnamese text written in the 17th century referenced government-sponsored economic activities during the Le Dynasty, 200 years earlier. The Vietnamese government conducted several geographical surveys of the islands in the 18th century.

The islands were sporadically visited throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by mariners from different European powers (including either Richard Spratly or William Spratly, after whom the island group derives its most recognizable English name). However, these nations showed little interest in the islands. In 1883, German boats surveyed the Spratly and Paracel Islands but withdrew the survey eventually after receiving protests from the Nguyen Dynasty.

In the 1933, France claimed the Spratly and Paracel Islands on behalf of its then-colony Vietnam. It occupied a number of the Spratly Islands, including Itu Aba, built weather stations on two, and administered them as part of French Indochina. This occupation was protested by the Republic of China government because France admitted finding Chinese fishermen there when French war ships visited nine islands. In 1935, the Chinese government also announced a sovereignty claim on the Spratly Islands. Japan occupied some of the islands in 1939 during World War II, and used the islands as a submarine base for the occupation of Southeast Asia. During the occupation, these islands were called Shinnan Shoto (新南諸島), literally the New Southern Islands, and put under the governance of Taiwan together with the Paracel Islands (西沙群岛).

Following the defeat of Japan at the end of World War II, the Republic of China government (Nationalist) re-claimed the whole Spratly Islands (including Itu Aba) and accepted the Japanese surrender on the islands based on Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Declaration. Japan renounced all claims to the islands in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. In the treaty with Republic of China, Japan again renounced all claims to the islands together with the Paracels, Pratas & other islands captured from China. The Nationalist withdrew from most of the Spratly and Paracel Islands after they were defeated by the forces of the opposing Communist Party of China in 1949.

In 1958, the People's Republic of China issued a declaration defining its territorial waters which encompassed the Spratly Islands. North Vietnam's prime minister, Pham Van Dong, sent a formal note to Zhou Enlai, stating that "The Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam respects this decision.

Today the Itu Aba Island is still administrated by the Republic of China government in Taiwan. In 1951, the People's Republic of China declared in response to Treaty of San Francisco that the Spratly Islands belonged to China. When the French left Vietnam, the naval units of the Vietnamese government took over in Truong Sa.

Political dispute

There are multiple reasons why the neighboring nations would be interested in the Spratly Islands. In 1968 oil was discovered in the region. The Geology and Mineral Resources Ministry of the People's Republic of China (PRC) has estimated that the Spratly area holds oil and natural gas reserves of 17.7 billion tons (1.60 × 1010 kg), as compared to the 13 billion tons (1.17 × 1010 kg) held by Kuwait, placing it as the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. Naturally, these large reserves assisted in intensifying the situation and propelled the territorial claims of the neighboring countries. On 11 March 1976, the first major Philippine oil discovery occurred off the coast of Palawan, within the Spratly Islands territory, and these oil fields now account for fifteen percent of all petroleum consumed in the Philippines. In 1992, the PRC and Vietnam granted oil exploration contracts to U.S. oil companies that covered overlapping areas in the Spratlys. In May 1992, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Crestone Energy (a U.S. company based in Denver, Colorado) signed a cooperation contract for the joint exploration of the Wan'an Bei-21 block, a 25,155 km² section of the southwestern South China Sea that includes Spratly Island areas. Part of the Crestone's contract covered Vietnam’s blocks 133 and 134, where PetroVietnam and ConocoPhillips Vietnam Exploration & Production, a unit of ConocoPhillips, agreed to evaluate prospects in April 1992. This led to a confrontation between China and Vietnam, with each demanding that the other cancel its contract.

An additional motive is the region's role as one of the world's most productive areas for commercial fishing. In 1988, for example, the South China Sea accounted for eight percent of the total world catch, a figure which has certainly risen. The PRC has predicted that the South China Sea holds combined fishing and oil and gas resources worth one trillion dollars. There have already been numerous clashes between the Philippines and other nations — particularly the PRC — over foreign fishing vessels in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the media regularly report the arrest of Chinese fishermen. In 1984, Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone encompassing Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands, but has not publicly claimed the island.

The region is also one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. During the 1980s, at least two hundred and seventy ships passed through the Spratly Islands region each day, and currently more than half of the world's supertanker traffic, by tonnage, passes through the region’s waters every year. Tanker traffic through the South China Sea is over three times greater than through the Suez Canal and five times more than through the Panama Canal; twenty five percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the South China Sea.

There have been occasional naval clashes over the Spratly Islands. In 1988, China and Vietnam clashed at sea over possession of Johnson Reef in the Spratlys. Chinese gunboats sank Vietnamese transport ships supporting a landing party of Vietnamese soldiers.

In response to growing concerns by coastal states regarding encroachments by foreign vessels on their natural resources, the United Nations convened the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 to determine the issue of international sea boundaries. In response to these concerns, it was resolved that a coastal state could claim two hundred nautical miles of jurisdiction beyond its land boundaries. However UNCLOS failed to address the issue of how to adjudicate on overlapping claims and so the future of the islands remains clouded.

Following a 1995 dispute between China and the Philippines an ASEAN-brokered agreement was reached between the PRC and ASEAN member nations whereby a nation would inform the others of any military movement within the disputed territory and that there would be no further construction. The agreement was promptly violated by China and Malaysia. Claiming storm damage, seven Chinese naval vessels entered the area to repair "fishing shelters" in Panganiban Reef. Malaysia erected a structure on Investigator Shoal and landed at Rizal Reef. In response the Philippines lodged formal protests, demanded the removal of the structures, increased naval patrols in Kalayaan and issued invitations to American politicians to inspect the PRC bases by plane.

In the early 21st century, the situation is improving. China recently held talks with ASEAN countries aimed at realizing a proposal for a free trade area between the ten countries involved. China and ASEAN also have been engaged in talks to create a code of conduct aimed at easing tensions in the disputed islands. On 5 March 2002, an agreement was reached, setting forth the desire of the claimant nations to resolve the problem of sovereignty "without further use of force". In November 2002, a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was signed, easing tensions but falling short of a legally-binding code of conduct.

Various Claims

People's Republic of China and Republic of China

In the Chinese view, the islands have been an integral part of China for nearly two thousand years and neighboring countries and European Powers took advantage of China's poor condition and diversity to impinge on its sovereignty.

China claims to have found the islands in the Han Dynasty in 2 BC. The islands were claimed to have been marked on maps compiled during the time of Eastern Han Dynasty and Eastern Wu (one of the Three Kingdoms). Since the Yuan Dynasty, these islands have been labeled as Chinese territory in the 12th century, followed by the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty from the 13th to 19th Centuries. In archaeological surveys the remains of Chinese pottery and coins have been found in the islands and are cited as proof for the Chinese claim..

From 1932 to 1935, the Republic of China continued to include the territory in their administrative area through the Map Compilation Committee. When France claimed 9 islands of the territory in 1933, it immediately encountered a revolt from Chinese fishermen and a protest from the Republic of China government in Nanking. Although the Republic of China continued to claim the islands, the Second Sino-Japanese war drew its attention for the mean time from 1937 onwards. After the second world war, China reclaimed sovereignty over the islands through post World War II arrangements based on various treaties of the Allied Powers and a hoarstone was built on the islands by China. In 1947, the government renamed 159 islands in the area.

In 1958, the People's Republic of China issued a declaration defining the Spratly Islands as its territorial waters. North Vietnam's prime minister, Pham Van Dong, sent a formal note to recognize these claims and stated that "The Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) respects this decision." However this note is claimed to be void because the Spratly islands belonged to the South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam) at that time. A year before the end of the Vietnam War the army of the South Vietnamese still held the majority of the Spratly islands and when North Vietnam unified Vietnam, it continued to claim the Spratly islands as an integral part of Vietnam. Today, the troops of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) respectively are stationed in several islands, including the biggest, Taiping island.

Philippines

While the Philippines' claim to the Spratly Islands was first expressed in the United Nations General Assembly in 1946, Philippine involvement in the Spratlys did not begin in earnest until 1956, when on May 15, 1956, Filipino citizen and admiral Tomas Cloma proclaimed the founding of a new state, Kalayaan (Freedom Land).

Cloma’s Kalayaan encompassed fifty three features spread throughout the eastern South China Sea, including Spratly Island proper, Itu Aba, Pag-asa and Nam Yit Islands, as well as West York Island, North Danger Reef, Mariveles Reef and Investigator Shoal. Cloma then established a protectorate in July 1956 with Pag-asa as its capital and Cloma as “Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Kalayaan State”.

This action, although not officially endorsed by the Philippine government, was considered by other claimant nations as an act of aggression by the Philippines and international reaction was swift.

Taiwan, the PRC, South Vietnam, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands lodged official protests (the Netherlands on the premise that it considered the Spratly Islands part of Dutch New Guinea) and Taiwan sent a naval task force to occupy the islands and establish a base on Itu Aba, which it retains to the present day.

Tomas Cloma and the Philippines continued to state their claims over the islands; in October 1956 Cloma traveled to New York to plead his case before the United Nations and the Philippines had troops posted on three islands by 1968 on the premise of protecting Kalayaan citizens. In early 1971 the Philippines sent a diplomatic note on behalf of Cloma to Taipei demanding the ROC's withdrawal from Itu Aba and on 10 July in the same year Ferdinand Marcos announced the annexation of the 53 island group known as Kalayaan, although since neither Cloma or Marcos specified which fifty three features constituted Kalayaan, the Philippines began to claim as many features as possible. In April 1972 Kalayaan was officially incorporated into Palawan province and was administered as a single “poblacion” (township), with Tomas Cloma as the town council Chairman and by 1992, there were twelve registered voters on Kalayaan. The Philippines also reportedly attempted to land troops on Itu Aba in 1977 to occupy the island but were repelled by ROC troops stationed on the island. There were no reports of casualties from the conflict. In 2005, a cellular phone base station was erected by the Philippines' Smart Communications on Pag-asa Island.

The Philippines base their claims of sovereignty over the Spratlys on the issues of res nullius and geography. The Philippines contend Kalayaan was res nullius as there was no effective sovereignty over the islands until the 1930s when France and then Japan acquired the islands. When Japan renounced their sovereignty over the islands in the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, there was a relinquishment of the right to the islands without any special beneficiary. Therefore, argue the Philippines, the islands became res nullius and available for annexation. Philippine businessman Tomas Cloma did exactly that in 1956 and while the Philippines never officially supported Cloma's claim, upon transference of the islands’ sovereignty from Cloma to the Philippines, the Philippines used the same sovereignty argument as Cloma did. The Philippine claim to Kalayaan on geographical bases can be summarized using the assertion that Kalayaan is distinct from other island groups in the South China Sea because:

A second argument used by the Philippines regarding their geographical claim over the Spratlys is that all the islands claimed by the Philippines lie within their archipelagic baselines, the only claimant who can make such a statement. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) stated that a coastal state could claim two hundred nautical miles of jurisdiction beyond its land boundaries. It is perhaps telling that while the Philippines is a signatory to UNCLOS, the PRC and Vietnam are not. The Philippines also argue, under Law of the Sea provisions, that the PRC can not extend its baseline claims to the Spratlys because the PRC is not an archipelagic state. Whether this argument (or any other used by the Philippines) would hold up in court is debatable but possibly moot, as the PRC and Vietnam seem unwilling to legally substantiate their claims and have rejected Philippine challenges to take the dispute to the World Maritime Tribunal in Hamburg.

In addition to the aforementioned, Sabah, a state of Malaysia, is being claimed by the Philippines under legal and historical bases. (See Sabah dispute) So if the Philippines reclaimed Sabah, by default, Malaysia's claims to the Spratly Islands will be declared null, and it will be given to the Philippines, because Malaysia designated its claims to the Spratly Islands as a part of Sabah.

Vietnam

Vietnam also claims the islands on historical grounds. Vietnamese geographical maps record Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, referring to Spratly Islands) as Vietnamese territory as early as the 17th century. In Phủ Biên Tạp Lục by the scholar Lê Quý Đôn, Hoàng Sa (Paracel Islands), and Trường Sa (Spratly Islands) were defined as belonging to Quảng Ngãi District. In Đại Nam Nhất Thống Toàn Đồ (Dai Nam Unified Map), an atlas of Vietnam completed in 1838, Trường Sa was shown as Vietnamese territory. Vietnam had conducted many geographical and resource surveys of the islands. The results of these surveys have been recorded in Vietnamese literature and history published since the 17th century. After the treaty signed with the Nguyen Dynasty, France represented Vietnam in international affairs and exercised sovereignty over the islands. On July 7, 1951, Tran Van Huu, head of the Bao Dai Government's delegation to the San Francisco Conference on the peace treaty with Japan declared that the archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa were part of Vietnamese territory. This declaration met with no challenge from the 51 representatives at the conference including delegates from both the People's Republic of China (mainland) and the Republic of China (Taiwan). After the French left, the Vietnamese government exercised sovereignty over the islands. Vietnam currently occupies 31 islands. They are organized as a district of Khanh Hoa Province. At the 12th National Assembly Election held early in Trường Sa, the people and soldiers also voted for their local district government for the first time. For the first time, Trường Sa is organized like a normal inland district, with a townlet (thị trấn Trường Sa) and two communes (xã Sinh Tồn, xã Song Tử Tây). Forty nine people were elected to the communes' people's councils.

Others

Malaysia, Brunei also claim parts of the islands.

Tabular listing of features showing country possessions

Occupied Features

A feature is occupied by a country if one of the following is true:

  • Soldiers and/or civilian citizens of a country are present in the feature, either by building structures over the feature to house the citizens (most features are of this type) or by manning a ship anchored over the feature (Philippine-occupied Irving Reef is of this type).
  • Regularly visited by soldiers of a country, not necessarily having soldiers present in it 24 hours. These features must lie near (within ) a feature occupied by the country in the way of the first condition. Presence of structures is not necessary. This is the case of Philippine-occupied Flat Island and Lankiam Cay where soldiers stationed at Nanshan Island and Loaita Island respectively, regularly visit on a daily basis.

The effective visible distance of horizon from a 15 meter (typical large structure) height above sea-level is . This makes features occupied by the second condition to be also labeled as "occupied" since they can be guarded far away. However not all features within the radius can be considered as absolutely occupied. This is especially true for features that lie between and within of two or more features occupied by different countries. (See Virtually Occupied or Controlled table)

Republic of the Philippines
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Flat Island Patag -lit. flat The fourteenth largest Spratly island. About southwest of Philippine-occupied Lawak Island (Nanshan Island). It changes its shape seasonally. The sand build up will depend largely on the direction of prevailing wind and waves. It takes the shape of an elongated one for some years now and a shape like that of a crescent moon for few years ago and it formed the shape of a letter “S” in the past. Like Panata Island (Lankiam Cay), it is also barren of any vegetation. No underground water source is found in the island. Presently, this island serves only as a military observation post for the Municipality of Kalayaan. A low, flat, sandy cay, 240 by 90 m, subject to erosion. Has a nearby reef which is above water at high tide. With large guano deposits. No vegetation. Several soldiers stationed. 0.57
费信岛費信島 Feixin Dao
Đảo Bình Nguyên
Lankiam Cay Panata -lit. oath The fifteenth largest and the smallest Spratly island. Located northeast of Philippine-occupied Kota Island (Lankiam Cay). A few years ago this island has a surface area of more than 5 hectares but strong waves brought by a strong typhoon washed out the sandy surface (beach) of the island leaving behind today the calcarenite foundation that can be seen at low tide. Several soldiers stationed. Part of Loaita Banks. 0.44
杨信沙洲 楊信沙洲 Yangxin Shazhou
Cồn San Hô Lan Can
Loaita Island Kota -lit. camp(kuta) The tenth largest Spratly island. Located southeast of Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island) and north-northeast of Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba Island. It fringes the Laoita bank and reef. Its calcarenite outcrop is visible along its western side at low tide. The present shape of the island indicates sand buildup along its eastern side. The anchor-shaped side will eventually connect with the northern portion as the sand buildup continues thereby creating another mini-lagoon in the process. The presence of migrating sea birds adds to the high phosphorus contents of the sand found in the island. Occasionally, giant sea turtles are reported to be laying their eggs in the island. Covered with mangrove bushes, above which rose coconut palms and other small trees. Several soldiers stationed. Occupied since 1968. Part of Loaita Banks. 6.45
南钥岛 南鑰島 Nanyue Dao
Đảo Loại Ta
Nanshan Island Lawak -lit. vastness The eighth largest Spratly island. Located east of Pag-asa (Thitu Island). This island is a bird sanctuary. Its surroundings are highly phosphatized that superphosphate materials can be mined out on a small-scale basis. Near the fringes of the breakwaters (approx. from the island), intact hard coral reefs were observed to retain their natural environment and beautiful tropical fishes were seen colonizing these coral beds of varying colors. Covered with coconut trees, bushes and grass. 580 m long, on the edge of a submerged reef. Several soldiers stationed. Has a small airstrip. 7.93
马欢岛 馬歡島 Mahuan Dao
Đảo Vĩnh Viễn
Northeast Cay Parola -lit. lighthouse The fifth largest Spratly island. Only north of Vietnamese-occupied Southwest Cay and can bee seen before the horizon. Located northwest of Philippine-occupied Pag-asa (Thitu Island). Some of its outcrops are visible on its western side. It has high salinity groundwater and vegetation limited to beach type of plants. The corals around the island were mostly destroyed by rampant use of dynamite fishing and cyanide method employed by foreign fishing boats in the past. Covered with grass and thick trees. Much of the ringing reef is above water at high tide. Supported a beacon in 1984. Has Guano deposits. Several soldiers stationed. Has an airstrip. Occupied since 1968. Part of North Danger Reef. 12.7
北子岛 北子島 Beizi Dao
Đảo Song Tử Đông
Thitu Island Pag-asa -lit. hope The second largest Spratly island. Serves as the poblacion for the Municipality of Kalayaan, Palawan, Phils. It is covered with trees and has a variety of fauna. It is home to some 300+ civilians (including children) and over 50 soldiers. Other islands are expected to be populated before 2010. Population is regulated to protect the islands' flora and fauna and to avoid tension with other countries. It has 1.4 km airstrip, a marina, water filtering plant, power generator and a commercial communications tower (by Smart Communications). The Philippines' Department of Tourism is making improvements to the island to make it profitable. Occupied since 1968. Part of Thitu Reefs. 37.2
中业岛 中業島 Zhongye Dao
Đảo Thị Tứ
West York Island Likas -lit. natural The third largest Spratly island. This island is located northeast of Pag-asa (Thitu Island). Outcrops are visible on the southern and eastern portion of the island during low tides. This island is considered a sanctuary for giant sea turtles that lay their eggs on the island all year round. The high salinity of the ground water in the island retards the growth of introduced trees like coconuts, ipil-ipil, and other types. Only those endemic to the area that are mostly beach type of plants thrive and survive the hot and humid condition especially during the dry season. Has an observation post. Several soldiers stationed. 18.6
西月岛 西月島 Xiyue Dao
Đảo Bến Lạc, Đảo Dừa
Commodore Reef Rizal -after José Rizal A sand \"cay\", 0.5 m high, surrounded by two lagoons. Parts of reef above water at high tide. It is a typical reef lying underwater and is now being manned by a military contingent based and established in the area. Some structures. Several soldiers stationed. Occupied since 1978. 0
司令礁 司令礁 Siling Jiao
Đá Công Đo
Terumbu Laksamana
Irving Reef Balagtas -after Francisco Balagtas Naturally above water only at low tide. A very small cay lies at northern end. Some structures. Several soldiers stationed. 0
火艾礁 火艾礁  Huo'ai Jiao
Đảo Cá Nhám
Second Thomas Reef Ayungin -after a native fish specie Leiopotherapon plumbeus A shallow reef. It is close to Chinese-occupied Mischief Reef. It was occupied by the Philippines in 1999, after the 1995 controversial Chinese occupation of Mischief Reef, to put pressure on China not to occupy any features further which lie near the Philippines. 0
Total 7 islands, 3 reefs 83.89

Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Amboyna Cay Kalantiaw -after Datu Kalantiaw The thirteenth largest Spratly island. Two parts: East part consists of sand and coral, west part is covered with guano. Has fringing reef. An obelisk, about 2.7 m high, stands on the SW corner. Little vegetation. Lighthouse operational since May 1995. Heavily fortified. 1.6
安波沙洲 Anbo Shazhou
Đảo An Bang
Pulau Amboyna Kecil
Namyit Island Binago -lit. changed or modified The twelfth largest Spratly island. Covered with small trees, bushes and grass. Has a fringing reef and is inhabited by sea birds. The island is inhabited by an unknown number of Vietnamese soldiers and in the deep waters fronting the south side it is said that a submarine base is situated. Occupied since 1975.Part of Tizard Banks. 5.3
鸿庥岛 Hongxiu Dao
Đảo Nam Yết
Sand Cay Bailan -lit. druid (babaylan) The ninth largest Spratly island. Lies to the east of Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba Island. Covered with trees and bushes. Fringing reef partly above water at low tide. This feature is commonly confused with Sandy Cay. Occupied since 1974. Part of Tizard Banks. 7
敦谦沙洲 Dunqian Shazhou
Đảo /Đá Sơn Ca
Sin Cowe Island Rurok -lit. peak The seventh largest. Has fringing reef which is above water at low tide. Occupied since 1974. Part of Union Banks. 8
景宏岛 Jinghong Dao
Đảo Sinh Tồn
Southwest Cay Pugad -lit. nest The sixth largest Spratly island. Only from Northeast Cay and can be seen before the horizon. Previously a breeding place for birds and covered with trees and guano. Export of guano was once carried out \\"on a considerable scale.\\" Fringing reef partly above water at high tide. Vietnam erected its first lighthouse in the Spratlys here in October 1993 and built an airstrip. Has a three-story building, garrisoned by soldiers. Philippine military controlled the island before early 1980s. Vietnamese forces invaded the island when Filipino soldiers guarding the island attended the birthday party of their commanding officer based in the nearby Northeast Cay. A confirmed report came out that Vietnamese prostitutes were sent by Vietnamese officials to the birthday party, supposedly a sign of good brotherhood between the forces, but was actually used to lure the Filipino soldiers guarding the island. Filipino forces apparently planned on attacking the island, thus it would have led to a war, but Vietnamese forces were able to erect a huge garrison in the island within few weeks, forcing Filipino officials to abort the plan. Since then, more soldiers were assigned to Parola Island (North East Cay), to avoid it from happening again. This was confirmed by interviews with soldiers involved in an episode of the defunct ABS-CBN's Magandang Gabi Bayan (Good Evening Nation) program. See Policies, activities and history of the Philippines in Spratly Islands#Southwest Cay Invasion for more details. Part of North Danger Reef. 12
南子岛 Nanzi Dao
Đảo Song Tử Tây
Spratly Island (proper)/ Storm Island Lagos -lit. passage The fourth largest Spratly island. 2.5 m high, flat. Covered with bushes, grass, birds and guano. 5.5 m-high obelisk at southern tip. Has landing strip, and a fishing port. Fringing reef is above water at low tide. Some structures with soldiers stationed. Occupied since 1974. 13
南威岛 Nanwei Dao
Đảo Trường Sa
Alison Reef De Jesus Naturally above water only at low tide. Encloses a lagoon. 0
六门礁 Liumen Jiao
Bãi Tốc Tan
Barque Canada Reef/ Lizzie Weber Reef (Barque Canada Reef) Magsaysay -after Ramon Magsaysay Coral. Highest rocks are 4.5 m high, at SW end. Much of reef is above water at high tide. Some sandy patches. long. Its military structures were recently upgraded. Occupied since 1987. 0
(Lizzie Weber Reef) Mascarado -lit. masked
柏礁 Bai Jiao
Bãi Thuyền Chài
Terumbu Perahu
Central London Reef Gitnang Quezon -after Manuel L. Quezon, gitnang is central SW part is a sandbank which barely submerges at high tide. The rest is coral reef, awash, surrounding a lagoon. Occupied since 1978. Part of London Reefs. 0
中礁 Zhong Jiao
Đảo Trường Sa Đông
Collins Reef/ Johnson North Reef 鬼喊礁 Guihan Jiao Lies southwest of Vietnam-occupied Sin Cowe Island. Connected to Johnson South Reef. A \\\"coral dune\\\" is located at the southeast corner, above the high tide line. Part of Union Banks. 0
Đá Cô Lin
Cornwallis South Reef Osmeña -after President Sergio Osmeña Naturally above water only at low tide. Encloses a lagoon. Occupied since 1988. 0
南华礁 Nanhua Jiao
Đá Núi Le
Great Discovery Reef Paredes Several rocks are above water at high tide. Most of reef is above water at low tide. Has lagoon. Occupied since 1988. 0
大现礁 Daxian Dao
Đá Lớn
East London Reef Silangang Quezon -after Manuel L. Quezon, silangang is eastern Rocks up to 1 m high. Encloses a lagoon. Occupied since 1988. Part of London Reefs. 0
东礁 Dong Jiao
Đá Đông
Grierson Reef Julian Felipe -after Julian Felipe, who composed the music for the Philippine National Anthem A sand cay with fringing reef. Some references tell that there exist a Sin Cowe East Island. This island may be Grierson Reef. It was probably called Sin Cowe East Island because it is located to the east of Sin Cowe Island and that its sand bar is visible during low tides, making it an island. Due to convention that an island must always be visible even at highest tides, Grierson Reef is not considered as an island in this list. Its sand bar area is about 12 hectares. Part of Union Banks. 0
染青沙洲 Ranqing Shazhou
Grainger Bank 李准滩 Lizhun Tan Shallowest natural depth is either 9 m or 11 m. Occupied since 1989. 0
Bãi Quế Đường
Higgens Reef 屈原礁 Quyuan Jiao Lies southeast of Vietnam-occupied Sin Cowe Island. Only above water at low tide. Part of Union Banks. 0
Đá Hi Ghen, Đá Hi Gen
Ladd Reef 日积礁 Riji Jiao Naturally above water at low tide. Has coral lagoon. Occupied since 1988. 0
Đá Lát
Lan(d)sdowne Reef Pagkakaisa -lit. unity Sand dune, with fringing reef. Part of Union Banks. 0
琼礁 Qiong Jiao
Đá Len Đao
Pearson Reef Hizon Two sand \\\\"cays\\\\", 2 m and 1 m high, lie on the edges of a lagoon. Parts of the surrounding reef are above water at high tide. Occupied since 1988. 0
毕生礁 Bisheng Jiao
Đảo Phan Vinh
Petley Reef 舶兰礁 Bolan Jiao Naturally above water only at low tide, some small rocks might stand above high water. Occupied since 1988. Part of Tizard Banks. 0
Đá Núi Thị
Pigeon Reef/ Tennent Reef 无乜礁 Wumie Jiao Numerous rocks are naturally above the high tide line. Encloses a lagoon. Occupied since 1988. 0
Đá Tiên Nữ
Prince Consort Bank 西卫滩 Xiwei Tan Shallowest natural depth is 9 m. Occupied since 1989. 0
Bãi Phúc Nguyên
Rifleman Bank (containing Bombay Castle) 南薇滩 Nanwei Tan Shallowest natural depth is 3 m, called Bombay Castle. Sand and coral. Occupied since 1989. 0
Bãi Vũng Mây
South Reef Timog -lit. south Lies about southwest of Vietnam-occupied Soutwest Cay. A tiny cay appears atop this reef on the most detailed map available. On the southwest end of North Danger Reef. Fringing reef is above water at low tide. Occupied since 1988. Part of North Danger Reef. 0
奈罗礁 Nailuo Jiao
Đá Nam
Vanguard Bank 万安滩 Wan'an Tan Shallowest natural depth is 16 m. Vietnam has run two \\\\"economic technological service stations\\\\" in this area since July 1994. Occupied since 1989. 0
Bãi Tư Chính
West London Reef Kanlurang Quezon -after Manuel L. Quezon, kanlurang is western East part is sand \\\\"cay\\\\", 0.6 m high. West part is coral reef which is above water only at low tide. Between them is a lagoon. Vietnam erected a lighthouse here in May or June 1994. Part of London Reefs. 0
西礁 Xi Jiao
Đá Tây
Total 6 islands, 17 reefs, 3 banks 46.9

Republic of China (Taiwan)
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Itu Aba Island Ligaw/Ligao -lit. courtship, lost or wild The largest of the Spratly islands. Located about south-southwest of Philippine-occupied Loiata (Kota) Island and about west of Vietnam-occupied Sand Cay. Covered with shrubs, coconut and mangroves. 600 soldiers stationed, lighthouse, radio and weather stations, concrete landing jetty and two wells at the SW end. Guano deposits, fringing reef. Hainan fishermen used to visit annually. In 8/93, plans were announced for a 2 km-long airstrip and a fishing port. The now only 1150-meters-long airstrip was completed in January 2008. Pineapple was once cultivated here. Occupied since September 1956, four months after Filipino Tomas Cloma claimed the islands. Part of Tizard Banks. 46
太平岛 Taiping Dao
Đảo Ba Bình
Ban Than Reef 中洲礁 Zhong Zhou Jiao Lies east of Itu-Aba Island and west of Vietnamese occupied Sand Cay. Small drying reef. Occupied since 1995. Part of Tizard Banks. 0
Bãi Bàn Than
Total 1 island, 1 reef 46

Malaysia
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Swallow Reef/ Island Celerio -after Levi Celerio The eleventh largest Spratly island. Treeless cay and rocks up to 3 m high surround a lagoon. Malaysia has drawn territorial seas around this and Amboyna Cay. Some 70 plus soldiers stationed here maintain a beacon. Has a fishing port and a 15-room diving resort, including a 1.5 km airstrip. Present land mass is reclaimed, making it the first artificial island in Spratly. Occupied since 1983. 6.2
Đá Hoa Lau
弹丸礁 Danwan Jiao
Terumbu Layang Layang
Ardesier Reef Antonio Luna -after Antonio Luna Naturally above water only at low tide. Encloses a lagoon. Has a few sandy patches. Several soldiers stationed. Occupied since 1986. 0
安渡滩 Andu Tan
Bãi Kiêu Ngựa
Terumbu Ubi
Dallas Reef Rajah Matanda -after Rajah Matanda Naturally above water only at low tide. Encloses a lagoon. Several soldiers stationed. Malaysia is also using this reef for tourism. 0
光星礁 Guangxing Jiao
Terumbu Laya
Erica Reef/ Enloa Reef Gabriela Silang -after Gabriela Silang Above water only at low tide. Some isolated rocks on the eastern edge stand above high water. 0
Boji Jiao
Terumbu Siput
Investigator Shoal Pawikan -lit. sea turtle Above water only at low tide. Some large rocks at the western end are visible at high water. Encloses a lagoon. 0
Yuya Jiao
Bãi Thám Hiểm
Terumbu Peninjau
Louisa Reef 南通礁 Nantong Jiao Rocks 1 m high. Malaysia operates a lighthouse here. 0
Terumbu Semarang/ Barat Kecil
Mariveles Reef Mariveles -after Mariveles, Bataan, the starting point of Bataan Death March A sand cay, 1.5-2 m high, surrounded by two lagoons, parts of which are above water at high tide. Several soldiers stationed. Occupied since 1986. 0
南海礁 Nanhai Jiao
Bãi /Đá Kỳ Vân
Terumbu Mantanani
Total 1 artificial island, 5 reefs, 1 shoal 6.2

People's Republic of China
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Cuarteron Reef Calderon Coral rocks only. Highest are 1.5 m high, on the north. Occupied since 1988. Part of London Reefs. 0
华阳礁 Huayang Jiao
Bãi /Đá Châu Viên
Fiery Cross Reef/ Northwest Investigator Reef Kagitingan -lit. valor Rocks up to 1 m high. All below at high tide, but has guano deposits. PRC built a navy harbor by blasting, piling up and cementing coral, but says no soldiers stationed here. 8,080 square meters, long, with airstrip. "Marine observation station" built in 1988; coconut, fir, and banyan trees planted. Actually 3 reefs. Occupied since 1988. 0
永暑礁 Yongshu Jiao
Đá Chữ Thập
Gaven Reefs Burgos -after GOMBURZA A sand dune, 2 m high. Has fringing reef plus a reef to the south, both covered at high tide. Now all cement and a raised metal frame, with two-story buildings placed on top. Southern reef was occupied by PRC on 7/4/92. Occupied since 1988.Part of Tizard Banks. 0
南薰礁 Nanxun Jiao (Northern reef) / Xinan or Duolu Jiao (S. reef)
Đá Ga Ven
Hughes Reef 东门礁 Dongmen Jiao (Hughes) Lies to the east of Sin Cowe Island. Naturally above water at least at low tide. Occupied since 1988. Part of Union Banks. 0
Johnson South Reef Mabini -after Apolinario Mabini Contiguous with Vietnam-occupied Collins Reef which lies away northwest. Naturally above water only at low tide, but [9] says many rocks above water at high tide. Site of 1988 PRC/Vietnam clash. Occupied since 1988. Part of Union Banks. 0
赤瓜礁 Chigua Jiao
Đá Gạc Ma
Mischief Reef Panganiban Some rocks above water at low tide. Has a lagoon. In February 1995, PRC had built a wooden complex on stilts here, starting its formal occupation of the feature. In 1999, the Philippines protested over this structures claiming that it is a military outpost and it poses danger to Philippine security and national defense, being from Palawan. PRC claims it is a shelter for fishermen. 0
美济礁 Meiji Jiao
Đá Vành Khăn
Subi Reef Zamora -after GOMBURZA Lies southwest of Philippine-occupied Thitu Island (Pagasa Island). Naturally above water only at low tide. Surrounds a lagoon. PRC has constructed 3-story buildings, wharfs, and a helipad here. 0
渚碧礁 Zhubi Dao
Đá Su Bi
Whitson Reef 牛轭礁 Niu'e Jiao Some rocks naturally above water at high tide. Part of Union Banks. 0
Đá Ba Đầu
Total 8 reefs 0

Virtually Occupied or Controlled

An unoccupied feature that lies within radius of an occupied feature, provided that it does not lie between the occupied feature and another occupied feature controlled by a different country and is not within of the feature occupied by the other country, can be considered as virtually occupied. is the effective horizon distance that can be seen from a 15 meter high structure. The nearer the feature, the better.

While virtually occupied features are not actual occupied features (e.g., no structures built and no soldiers are stationed or regularly visits), they are on the other hand largely controlled. If a naval vessel of another country was seen within the effective horizon of a feature and in an inconvenient direction, it can be taken as a military assault. Thus, the forces occupying the feature may attack the vessel. Claimant countries currently cannot upgrade the status of these virtually occupied features to absolutely occupied because other countries may view this as an expansion motive which clearly violates the Code of Conduct signed in 2002. Also, making the virtually occupied to absolutely occupied requires building of structures which will serve as barracks of new soldiers who will guard it. Building of structures in unoccupied (including virtually occupied) features is prohibited by the Code of Conduct.

Note that most virtually occupied features are by the Philippines. Vietnam in the past, prior to signing of the Code of Conduct, have acquired many features as much as it can. As of now, it has a total of 26 occupied features. Whenever it occupied a feature in the past, it immediately occupies features which are near to it. Example of this is South Reef which Vietnam immediately occupied after it successfully invaded Southwest Cay. Thus, no feature has been virtually controlled by Vietnam since it always occupy features which it can see within its horizon. Also, Vietnam's occupied features in Tizard and Union Banks are near other countries' occupied features. Hence, many unoccupied features near to Vietnam's occupied features in these banks also lie near other countries' occupied features. As for Malaysia, it only occupied reefs at the southern tip of the Spratly chain where features are dispersed. No other features can be found within the horizon of Malaysian-occupied features.

Virtually Occupied and Controlled
Virtually Occupied by the Philippines
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Loaita Cay Nanyao Shazhou Lies south-northeast of Philippine-occupied Loaita Island. Actually, it is between two Philippine-occupied islands, the other being Lankiam Cay, but is nearer to Loita Island. A sand cay, with fringing reef naturally above water at high tide. This feature is commonly confused with Lankiam Cay. Not to be confused with Loaita Island. Part of Loiata Banks. ??
Bãi Loại Ta
Loaita Nan/ Loaita Southwest Reef Shuanghuang Shazhou Lies northwest of Philippine-occupied Loaita Island. Nearest feature occupied by other country is Subi Reef, occupied by China, lies northwest. Never above water. Part of Loaita Banks. 0
Bãi Loại Ta Nam
North Reef Hilaga -lit. north Lies northest of Philippine-occupied Northest Cay (Parola Island). Nearest feature occupied by other country is Southwest Cay, occupied by Vietnam, lies southwest. Because it is Northeast Cay which lies between Southwest Cay and North Reef, North Reef became virtually occupied by the Philippines. At NE end of North Danger Reef. Naturally above water only at low tide. The Philippines once considered building a long airstrip over this feature to ease transportation to Northeast Cay. Northeast Cay is only 12.7 hectares and it doesn't have a large coral base. This is unlike Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) were a long airstrip had been constructed adjacent to the island by reclaiming portions of Pagasa's large coral base. Hence, the Philippines cannot build a long airstrip in Northeast Cay, forcing them to consider building it in North Reef. However, though virtually occupied, they cannot build such airstrip in North Reef because the Code of Conduct prohibits it. Part of North Danger Reef. 0
Dongbei Jiao
Sandy Cay/ Extension Reef Tiexian Jiao Lies west of Philippine-occupied Thitu Island (Pagasa Island). Nearest feature occupied by other country is Subi Reef, occupied by China, lies southwest. A low sand cay; fringing reef above water at high tide. ??
Virtually Occupied by China
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Kennan Reef 西门礁 Ximen Jiao (Kennan) Lies just west of PRC-occupied Hughes Reef. Nearest features occupied by other country is Vietnam-occupied Sin Cowe Island and Higgens Reef, both lies about west and southwest respectively. Because China is very near compared to Vietnam, Kennan Reef became virtually occupied by China. It actually causes many references to be confused on which feature between Hughes and Kennan is actually occupied by China. Naturally above water at least at low tide. 0
Đá Ken Nan

Unoccupied Features

Unoccupied but Largely Controlled by the Philippines
The reefs, shoals, etc. to the east of the 116°E meridian are closely guarded by the Philippine Navy and Air Force. Though not occupied, the Philippines undeniably has control over these features which are less from the Palawan west coast (note: Scarborough Shoal is from Zambales west coast). There are many Filipino fishermen in this region, who cooperate closely with the Philippine Navy. Non-Filipino fishermen are tolerated in this region, provided that they comply with Philippine laws. The press in the Philippines have reported many arrests of Chinese fishermen by the Philippine Navy because of illegal fishing methods and catching of endangered sea species, both in this region and in the Sulu Sea. Philippine military presence in this region intensified after the 1995 Mischief Reef incident. The Philippine Air Force has been active in striking even the markers set up by other countries to guide the latter's naval forces in this region.
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Amy Douglas Reef or Baker Reef Mahiwagang Diwata -lit. mystical goddess Lies north of Palawan Passage. Awash at low tide. 0
Gongzhen Jiao
Bombay Shoal Abad Santos -after Jose Abad Santos Several rocks are exposed at low tide. Surrounds a lagoon. 0
蓬勃暗沙 Pengbo Ansha
Boxall Reef Rajah Soliman -after Rajah Soliman Above water only at low tide. 0
Niuchelun Jiao
Brown Reef Kayumanggi -lit. brown 0
Carnadic Shoal 0
Director Shoal Tamban 0
First Thomas Reef Bulig -lit. mudfish A few rocks are permanently above sea level. Soldiers from nearby Second Thomas Reef, as well as Filipino fisherfolks, visit this reef daily to fish. Much of the reef is above water at low tide. Encloses a lagoon. 0
Xinyi Jiao
Bãi Suối Ngà
Ganges Reef Palma -after Jose Palma, who wrote the lyrics for the Philippine National Anthem 0
Glasgow Bank Aguinaldo -after Emilio Aguinaldo Some sources say this area is occupied by the Philippines due to its proximity to the Commodore Reef. 0
Half Moon Shoal Hasahasa Several rocks on the eastern side rise one to two feet above high tide. Encloses a lagoon. 0
Banyue Jiao
Bãi Trăng Khuyết
Hardy Reef Banlu Jiao Naturally above water only at low tide. Surrounds a narrow strip of sand. 0
Hopkins Reef 0
Investigator Northeast Shoal Dalagang Bukid Lies just a few miles west of Palawan. Naturally above water at low tide. 0
Iroquois Reef Del Pilar -after Marcelo H. del Pilar Located east of both Philippine-occupied Nanshan Island and Flat Island. Above water only at low tide. 0
Houteng Jiao
Leslie Bank 0
Lord Auckland Shoal Lapu-Lapu -after Lapu-Lapu or probably after a native fish in the Philippines 0
Lys Shoal Bisugo 0
Northeast Shea 0
Pennsylvania North Reef 0
Pennsylvania South Reef 0
Reed Tablemount (including Nares Bank and Marie Louise Bank) Recto -after Claro Recto Shallowest natural depth is 9 m. About in area. The Philippines occupied this feature in 1971 and a Philippine-Sweden joint oil-exploration followed afterwards. However, China protested this act of the Philippines saying that this tablemount which center lies from the Philippines is part of China's territories. After that, the Philippines tried asking China for a joint effort but China declined arguing that the Philippines has no right in this feature. Presently, this feature is largely controlled by the Philippines. 0
Bãi Cỏ Rồng
Royal Captain Shoal Kanduli -a sea catfish specie A few rocks are above water at low tide. Surrounds a lagoon. 0
Jiangzhang Ansha
Sabina Shoal Escoda -after Josefa Llanes Escoda It encloses two lagoons, naturally above water at low tide. Lies east of the Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Reef. 0
Sandy Shoal Mabuhangin -lit. sandy 0
Scarborough Shoal Panatag -lit. worry-free or calm Not actually part of Spratly Island group. It is farther north, about from Palauig, Zambales, Philippines. Several rocks up to 3 m high. Much of the reef is just below water at high tide. Encloses a lagoon. Near the mouth of the lagoon are the ruins of an iron tower, 8.3 m high. Its status is disputed. Though the Philippine Navy maintains an active presence in this area, even building a small structural outpost here, many references still say that it is unoccupied. The Philippines is tightly guarding the area for fear of another Chinese structure to be erected here, just like what happened in Mischief Reef. Many Chinese fishermen were already arrested in this area because of illegal fishing methods and catching of endangered sea species. 0
Huang Yen Tao
Seashore Shoal Baybayin Dagat -lit. seashore Lies north of Palawan Passage 0
Stag Shoal 0
Southern Bank/Reef Katimugan -lit. southern A group of features located south of Reed Tablemount. The reef includes: Magat Salamat, Tagpi, Hubo Reef, and Katimugan Banks/Reef. The area is largely controlled and used by the Philippines due to its proximity to Flat Island and Nanshan Island, where several Philippine soldiers are stationed. The reef serves as a rich fishing ground for fisherfolks in Kalayaan, Palawan. 0
Templar Bank Dalag -lit. mudfish 0
Trident Shoal Tatlong-tulis -lit. three sharp points or trident itself 0
Viper North Shoal Maya-maya 0
Viper Shoal Tomas Claudio 0

Not Occupied by any Country
These are the unoccupied features. Some sources say that some of these features are occupied by Vietnam or China but most sources, including the latest, say that they are not occupied. Occupation are probably confused because the said reefs are very close to occupied features. There are many unoccupied features in the Spratly chain. The current Code of Conduct prohibits any country from acquiring new features. Many of these features are actually in between and near two or more occupied features of different countries. Thus, they serve like buffer zones. Example of this is Jones Reef which lies almost exactly between PRC-occupied Hughes Reef and Vietnamese-occupied Higgens Reef.
Int'l Name Local Names Description Area (ha.)
Alicia Anne Reef Arellano A sand "cay", 1.2 m high. Many rocks above high tide line. 0
Xian'e Jiao
Đá Suối Ngọc
Discovery Small Reef Gomez -after GOMBURZA Above water only at low tide. 0
小现礁 Xiaoxian Jiao
Đá Nhỏ
Edmund Reef 南门礁 Nanmen Jiao Lies east of Vietnam-occupied Sin Cowe Island and west of Kennan Reef. Part of Union Banks. 0
Eldad Reef Malvar -after Miguel Malvar Only a few large rocks are naturally above water at high tide. Part of Tizard Banks. 0
Anda Jiao
Beting Burgai
Hallet Reef 安乐礁 Anle Jiao Lies to the northeast of Hughes Reef. Part of Union Banks. 0
Holiday Reef Changxian Jiao Above water only at low tide. Part of Union Banks. 0
Hopps Reef Diego Silang -after Diego Silang Above water only at low tide. Part of Southampton Reefs. 0
Lusha Jiao
Đá Hop
Jackson Atoll Quirino -after Elpidio Quirino Four or five portions are above water at low tide. Encloses a lagoon. 0
Wufan(g) Jiao
Jones Reef 漳溪礁 Zhangxi Jiao Lies south of Kennan Reef. Small reef, partly above water only at low tide. Part of Union Banks. 0
Livock Reef (NE part) Jacinto Reef -after Emilio Jacinto Above water only at low tide. Some rocks still visible at high tide. Part of Southampton Reefs. 0
(SW part) Bonifacio Reef -after Andres Bonifacio
Sanjiao Jiao
Menzies Reef Lakandula -after Rajah Lakandula Awash at low tide. Part of Loaita Bank. 0
Mengzi Jiao
Đá Men Di
Owen Shoal Aoyuan Ansha Shallowest natural depth is 6 m. 0
Prince of Wales Bank Guangya Tan Shallowest natural depth is 7 m. Has corals. 0
Bãi Phúc Tần
Tieshi Jiao Tieshi Jiao Above water only at low tide. Located northeast of Thitu Island and unnamed on most maps. Part of Thitu Reefs 0

Claimed Features by Country but Occupied by other Country

Claimed Features by Country but Occupied by other Country
Only China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim all of the Spratly Island Chain, including some features that are just 50 km from other countries like the Philippines and Malaysia. However, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all have partial claims only. Here are the islands claimed but are not occupied by these three countries (flags refer to the country currently occupying the feature):
Philippines: Itu Aba Island , Amboyna Cay , Namyit Island , Sand Cay , Sin Cowe Island , Sin Cowe East Island , Southwest Cay , Spratly Island Proper , Pigeon Reef , South Reef , Ardasier Reef , Erica Reef , Investigator Shoal , Mariveles Reef , Swallow Reef/Island , Mischief Reef , Subi Reef and all of features to the east of the 116°E meridian (unoccupied) (see Unoccupied but Largely Controlled by the Philippines subtable).
Malaysia: Amboyna Cay , Barque Canada Reef , Commodore Reef and Royal Charlotte Reef (unoccupied)
Brunei: Rifleman Bank , Louisa Reef and Owen Shoal (uncertain)

20th century timeline

1927 The French ship SS De Lanessan conducted a scientific survey of the Spratly Islands
1930 France launched a second expedition with the La Malicieuse, which raised the French flag on an island called Ile de la Tempete. Chinese fishermen were present on the island, but the French made no attempt to expel them.
1932 The Republic of China sent the French government a memorandum contesting their sovereignty over the Spratlys, based on the Chinese interpretation of the 1887 treaty ending the Sino-French War.
1933 Three French ships had taken control of nine of the largest islands and declared French sovereignty over the archipelago. France administered the area as part of Cochinchina. The Empire of Japan disputed French sovereignty over the islands, citing evidence of phosphate mining by private Japanese citizens.
1939 Japan declared its intention to place the island group under its jurisdiction. France and the United Kingdom protested and reasserted French sovereignty claims.
1941 Japan forcibly occupied the island group and remained in control until the end of World War II, administering the area as part of Taiwan. A submarine base was established on Itu Aba.
1945 After Japan's surrender at the end of World War II, France and the Republic of China reassert claims on the Spratly Islands. China sent troops to the islands, and Chinese landing forces erected sovereignty markers.
1946 France dispatched warships to the islands several times but no attempts are made to evict Chinese forces.
1947 France demanded the Chinese withdraw from the islands.
1948 France ceased maritime patrols near the islands and China withdrew most of its troops.
1951 At the 1951 San Francisco Conference on the Peace Treaty with Japan, delegates from Vietnam; which, at that time, was still French-controlled; claimed sovereignty over the Paracel and the Spratly Islands.
1956 Tomas Cloma, director of the Maritime Institute of the Philippines, claimed sovereignty over much of the Spratly Islands, naming his territory "Kalaya'an" ("Freedomland"). The People's Republic of China, the Republic of China, France, South Vietnam, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands all issued protests. The Republic of China and South Vietnam launched naval units to the islands, though South Vietnam left no permanent garrison. North Vietnam supported the PRC's claims, declaring that "according to Vietnamese data, the Xisha and Nansha Islands are historically part of Chinese territory." Later in the year, South Vietnam declared its annexation of the Spratly Islands as part of its Phuoc Tuy province.
1958 The People's Republic of China issued a declaration defining its territorial waters which encompassed the Spratly Islands. North Vietnam's prime minister, Pham Van Dong, sent a formal note to Zhou Enlai, stating that "The Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam respects this decision."
1961-3   South Vietnam established sovereignty markers on several islands in the chain.
1968 The Philippines sent troops to three islands on the premise of protecting Kalayaan citizens and announced the annexation of the Kalayaan island group.
1971 Malaysia issued claims to some of the Spratly Islands.
1972 The Philippines incorporated the Kalayaan islands into its Palawan province.
1975 A recently-unified Vietnam declared claims over the Spratly Islands.
1978 A presidential decree from the Philippines outlined territorial claims to the islands.
1979 Malaysia published a map of its continental shelf claim, which includes twelve islands from the Spratly group. Vietnam published a white paper outlining its claims to the islands and disputing those of the other claimants.
1982 Vietnam published another white paper, occupied several of the islands and constructed military installations. The Philippines also occupied several more islands and constructed an air strip.
1983 Malaysia occupied Swallow Reef (Layang Layang), one of the Spratly Islands. A naval base and resort was later built at this location.
1984 Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone encompassing the Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands, but did not publicly claim the area.
1987 The People's Republic of China conducted naval patrols in the Spratly Islands and established a permanent base.
1988 PRC and Vietnam ships had a minor clash over Johnson Reef. PRC forces prevailed and retain control of the area.

Notes

References

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