After throwing Google out of the country, creating its own successful versions of e-bay, youtube and B2B platforms, China has launched its very own Google Earth. Entitled, Map World, or Tianditu, literally meaning heaven map in Mandarin. Launched by China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM), offers maps, satellite images and 3D views of the entire world.
Post reservations of Google Earth mapping and uploading satellite images of China, the Middle Kingdom last year started requiring online mapping service providers to put their servers in China. Earlier this year, the government demanded that such companies apply for a license. Although Map World might still have a few chinks to rise up to the standards Google Earth has set, it gives Chinese citizens a better view of its own country, than its american rival is permitted to.
However, there is a public and government version for map world allowing citizens an ariel view of Zhongnanhai, the secretive compound where China’s political leaders work and live, but restricting them from seeing military bases and border areas. Dissing international treaties and disputed territories, Map World also seeks to promote to its citizen’s Beijing’s stance that certain parts of India, Taiwan and a few disputed islands off the South China Sea are part of mainland territory. According to the online map, areas of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India are shown as a slice of Chinese territory. The island of Taiwan is displayed in the same manner as any mainland province, signaling the government’s widely known stance, though it cannot be viewed at the same level of detail or resolution as parts of the mainland. Recent territorial hot spots such as the Diaoyu, the Paracel and Spratly Islands are also clearly within China’s borders on the online map.
Publicly displaying disputed territories as part of mainland China, has further ruffled feathers even as neighboring nations are weary of China’s might in the region. India for one, has always maintained a strained relationship with China over the border issue. The two nations have not only fought a war, but animosity continues to boil and spew over every now and then, affecting business and social relations. Suffering from failed talks between the Indian’s Chinese, British and Tibetans, poor agreements and confusion over the veracity of the Mc Mohan line, India and China continue to buffer their borders with army men.