The topography of Nanhai Zhudao or Shitang in generalized term was described by Wang Dayuan the Tang-Dynasty civil navigator and geographer in his book Dao Yi Zhi Lüe.
The names of Nanhai Zhudao were further clarified in the record of the Ming Dynasty.
It is recorded in Hai Cha Yu Lu (printed in 1617), a book written by Gu Jie who once took an official post in Danzhou (now Danzhou City, Hainan Province), that "Qianli Shitang (thousand-li rocky reefs) is located 700 li away from Yazhou.
In Hai Guo Wen Jian Lu written in 1730 (the eighth year of Yongzheng) by Chen Lunjiong, the then general of the Taiwan Town, Nan'aoqi, Qizhouyang, Wanli Changsha and Qianli Shitang were used to refer to Nanhai Zhudao.
The place name "Dongsha" is first seen in Hai Lu, a book authored by Xie Qinggao in 1820 (the twenty-fifth year of Jiaqing).
After the middle of the Ming Dynasty, China had specific names for the islands, reefs, shoals and cays of Nanhai Zhudao.