I refer to the article by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa (“On South China Sea disputes, China stands on the side of history, logic and the law”, May 25).
Readers should welcome Mr Tung’s call for greater understanding of the different countries’ positions on the South China Sea and for a better understanding of its history.
However, there is more than one account of that history and, unfortunately, Mr Tung is only familiar with the Chinese version. As a result, his account contains a number of flawed assertions.
There is no archaeological evidence that the earliest users of the Spratly and Paracel islands owed any allegiance to any state around the coast of the South China Sea.
They were most likely semi-nomadic peoples, with cultures similar to the “sea gypsies” still found in parts of Southeast Asia today.
There is no archaeological evidence of any Chinese seafaring across the South China Sea until the 10th century. Even after this date, Chinese ships shared the sea with much greater numbers of Malay, Arab, Indian and, later, European vessels.