A Facebook map of Vietnam that does not include the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes has outraged millions of Vietnamese citizens.

Worse still, the Facebook map depicts these archipelagoes as Chinese territory at a time when the international community has backed criticism of China’s recent actions in the disputed area.

An online retailer in Hanoi, only identified as S.Nguyen, told Vietnam News Agency that she spotted the problem while designing an advertisement on Facebook.

"I was really shocked and have suspended all advertisement on the social network," she said.

Some retailers also said they have temporarily ended advertisement on Facebook as they cannot support the wrong map.

Vietnam has consistently affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over the two archipelagoes in the East Sea, which is known internationally as the South China Sea. It has repeatedly asserted that all activities violating Vietnam's territorial sovereignty over the islands go against international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has been illegally occupying a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands since 1988.

The Vietnamese government has demanded that Facebook takes immediate action to correct its mistake.

The Ministry of Information and Communications said on Sunday it had sent a notice to Facebook Inc., asking it to clarify the wrongful representation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the two archipelagoes on its map.

A Facebook representative has responded that there was some “confusion” over the map, that it is a technical error without political intention.

The issue is being investigated and measures will be taken soon to deal with it, the representative added.

The map has not been changed as of Monday morning.

Facebook is the most popular social network in Vietnam. An April 2018 report by We Are Social says the number of Facebook users in Vietnam is 7th highest in the world at over 58 million.

By Nguyen Quy - VnExpress.net - July 2, 2018