The Paracel Islands are
surrounded by productive fishing grounds and by
potential oil and gas reserves. In 1932, French Indochina annexed the
islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island; maintenance was
continued by its successor, Vietnam. China has occupied the Paracel
Islands since 1974, when its troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison
occupying the western islands. China built a military installation on
Mischief Reef in 1999. The islands are claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.