It’s not commonplace to come across things common to China’s state-run broadcaster and the world’s largest social networking platform. But then, this week’s cartographic problems related to India’s map have revealed the uncanny connection between China Central Television (CCTV) and Facebook.
The map of India that CCTV featured during a news show soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Xian excluded Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
This was no surprise since China's official maps show Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet and exclude parts of Jammu and Kashmir from Indian territory. In June 2014, the Chinese government showed Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory in a new map.
Soon after CCTV’s map fiasco, another “wrong” map grabbed the attention of Indian social media users – and this time, the accused was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
To announce the launch of Internet.org in Malawi, Zuckerberg posted an info-graphic describing the extent of Facebook’s ambitious project to connect billions without internet access. The info-graphic had representative maps of countries connected by Internet.org, and the map of India left out parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian social media users reacted angrily to the distorted map, and Zuckerberg deleted his post soon after.
India and China are countries with two of the largest populations and armies, and an old bone of contention – the 4,000-km border between them.
The main problem, as explained in an Economist article, is: “In the undefined northern part of the frontier India claims an area the size of Switzerland, occupied by China, for its region of Ladakh. In the eastern part, China claims an Indian-occupied area three times bigger, including most of Arunachal (Pradesh).”
This unresolved boundary issue has been a consistent sticking point in China-India relations.
Screenshots of the controversial map beamed by CCTV made the rounds on social media and elicited angry reactions from social media users. Some tweeted that Modi should take up the issue with his Chinese hosts.
There was no official reaction from Modi or the team of officials accompanying him.
But some, like senior journalist Shekhar Gupta, wrote that the hullabaloo over cartographic issues did not reflect ground realities.
“Time we shed our cartographic prickliness. Chinese TV can use wrong map of India but can't change ground realities. Focus on issues at hand,” Gupta tweeted.
Some wondered how Indian nationalists would have reacted had this cartographic aberration occurred during a visit by Manmohan Singh or any another Prime Minister.
“If any previous PM was visiting China & Chinese media had shown a truncated map of India, the Pretending Patriots would have gone berserk,” wrote author Tushar Gandhi on Twitter.
Reactions to the map used by Zuckerberg were just as sharp. Facebook user Akhil Dev commented: "Great Job, Please correct the Indian MAP on this Picture, Kashmir is missing."
Another user, SK Rao, posted, "Correct India's map - Kashmir is missing. Don't need your free internet. All Indians log off Facebook if the map is not corrected. This is absolute lack of sensitiveness."
Several Twitter profiles (described as being from Pakistan) satirically commented that now Indians might say Facebook too is an “ISI agent”.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posts map of India with no sign of Kashmir. :) India kahy ga Zuckerberg ISI agent :) pic.twitter.com/w0kvopgZbH"— Mr Pk (@pkpktun) May 15, 2015
(The views of the author are personal. He tweets as