The Philippines began to lay its claim over the Spratly Islands in 1970s. The Philippines claims the western section of the Spratlys, or the "Kalayaan Isaland Group" as called by the Philippines. That encompasses 53 islands, reefs, shoals cays, rocks and atolls with an area of 64,976 square miles. It is about 450 nautical miles from Manila and 230 nautical miles from Palawan. The Thitu Island (renamed as Pag-asa/Pagasa by the Philippines) is the biggest island and the Philippines occupied this island in the 1970s. Along with Thitu Island, other islands in the Spratlys occupied by the Philippines include Flat Island (Feixin Dao in Chinese, Patag as the Philippines renamed it), Nansha Island (Mahuan Dao, Lawak), West York Island (Xiyue Dao, Likas), Lankiam Cay (Shuanghuan Shazhou, Panata), Loita Island (Nanyue Dao, Kota), and Commodore Reef (Siling Jiao, Rizal Reef).
2. Brief History of the Filipino Interest in the Spratlys and its Development
Out of its economic and strategic motivations, the French government made formal claims to the Spratlys in the early 1930s. On July 25 1933 the French Foreign Ministry announced the occupation of the nine islets of the Spratlys and asserted French sovereignty over them for the first time. The French action brought immediate protests from China. At that time, the Philippines was a colony of America. Some Filipino congressman said the nine islands should belong to the Philippines according to the Treaty of Paris. However his suggestion was ignored by Washington since the Spratly Islands obviously were not within the Philippine boundary as stated by the Treaty Limits.
During the Second World War, Japan occupied both the Paracels (Paracel Islands) and Spratlys in 1939 shortly after they controlled Hainan Island. The Japanese used Itu Aba Island (Taiping Dao) as a submarine base and a springboard for its invasion of the Philippines. At the end of the Pacific War in 1945, the...