PARACEL ISLANDS STATEMENT
In pursuit of a consistent and accurate Map Policy over the National
Geographic Society's 122-year history as a not-for-profit scientific
and educational institution, we strive to be apolitical, to consult
multiple authoritative sources, and to make independent decisions based
on extensive research. We do not seek to resolve or take sides in recognized
disputes regarding territory or names, but to pursue a de facto policy
— that is, to portray for any reader or viewer to the best of our judgment
the current reality of a situation.
With respect to the Paracel Islands (the traditional name), National
Geographic has recognized that this archipelago has been occupied and
administered by the Chinese government since 1974, and
as a result, the Society recognizes the Chinese name Xisha Qundao as
the primary name. This is consistent with our Map Policy. On our regional
and other maps of sufficient scale, we specifically also recognize and
designate the alternative Vietnamese name Hoàng Sa, and the traditional
name Paracel Islands, and include a note indicating that while China
occupies and administers the archipelago, Vietnam claims the archipelago
as its own. We believe that is the current reality from everything we
We have recently received complaints about the particular depiction
on our World Map, the scale of which makes it difficult to include detailed
information about a small land mass such as the Paracel Islands. We
have carefully reviewed the situation and recognize that simply denoting
the archipelago with the Chinese name and the word "China"
in parenthesis without further explanation can be misleading and misinterpreted.
In the future, we will either provide the additional explanation that
is included on our other maps as described above, or we will omit any
designation. We hope this better clarifies the de facto situation that
is described on our other maps in greater detail.