Letter from THTNDC to Science Editorial Board regarding the misleading map of the South East Asia Sea

Posted on Aug 24, 2011 in Press Release & Announcements | One Comment

Huan Vo
Head of the Board of Representatives
Viet Youth for Democracy
P.O. Box 462220

Escondido, CA 92046

August 20th, 2011

Science Magazine
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
1200 New York Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20005

Dear Dr. Bruce Alberts and the Editorial Board,

We are writing to express our profound concern about the misleading map of the Southeast Asia Sea (also known as South China Sea) in Dr. Peng Xizhe’s article entitled China’s Demographic History and Future Challenges that was published in Science Magazine on July 29, 2011.1  The publication of the controversial and untruthful map undermines the integrity and transparency of Science’s peer reviewed process, in failing to duly evaluate the accuracy of facts provided by the author.

On page 584 of the July 29, 2011 edition, Dr. Peng Xizhe’s article displayed Figure 1 (A) and (B) explaining the different distribution of regional population in China.  The figure includes and emphasizes the “U-shape line” claiming the whole Southeast Asia Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands, belongs to China.  In fact, this area has been subject to overlapping territorial claims by several countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Brunei.

From the Vietnamese perspective, the “U-shape line” claimed by China infringes upon the national sovereignty of Vietnam and our maritime territory, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands.  Vietnam has strong and well-documented historical evidences, being put forward by both Vietnamese and Western historians, that the Paracel and Spratly Islands belong to Vietnam.2,3

Moreover, the claim that the whole Southeast Asia Sea belong to China, as shown in the map of Dr. Peng Xizhe’s article, clearly violates the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which China is a signatory.4  This claim by China also violates the Declaration on Conduct (DoC), which is endorsed by China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2002.5  The inaccuracy of the “U-shape line” map only damages the DoC mission, as it intensifies the risk of conflict in the Southeast Asia Sea.  The “U-Shape line” provided by Dr. Peng Xizhe is not only inaccurate, but it might also further the deterioration of the current political situation in the region.

Whether the author intentionally or inadvertently included the map in the article, Science editors have failed to check on the accuracy of facts in this submission.  This negligence violates the AAAS missions, namely, to:

  • Promote and defend the integrity of science and its use; and
  • Promote the responsible use of science in public policy

We have serious concerns that Chinese authorities can subsequently use the map included in the article as an acknowledgment by a scientific institution of Chinese sovereignty in the Southeast Asia Sea.  Until the territorial dispute is resolved by legitimate and peaceful means between the concerned nations, we ask that the Science Magazine take the necessary caution to show scientific impartiality with regard to international relations.  Concretely, we ask that you clarify this issue and remove the contested map from this edition.  Knowing that the AAAS and Science Magazine are committed to advancing knowledge around the world through scientific means, your action is appreciated, as it protects the impartiality of science and the standards of professionalism of the magazine’s editorial board.

We appreciate your time to kindly inform us of your action with respect to this inquiry.


Huan Vo, Head of the Board of Representatives

On behalf of the Board of Representatives
Viet Youth for Democracy


  1. Xizhe P. China’s Demographic History and Future Challenges. Science 29 July 2011:581-587.
  2. Chemillier-Gendreau M. Sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2000. Retrieved from http://www.paracelspratly.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23&Itemid=81
  3. Nguyen N, PhD. Process of establishing Vietnamese sovereignty in the archipelagos of Paracel and Spratly. Vietnam: University of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2002. Retrieved from http://www.paracelspratly.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=81
  4. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/UNCLOS-TOC.htm
  5. Declaration on the conduct of parties in the South China Sea. Retrieved from http://www.aseansec.org/13163.htm.

Viet Youth for Democracy is a world-wide non-profit organization of young Vietnamese, working to promote political freedom and democracy in Vietnam through peaceful means.

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