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China’s Google Earth rival claims Arunachal

world Updated: Oct 23, 2010 01:39 IST
Reshma Patil
Reshma Patil
Hindustan Times
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China’s government-run online mapping service launched on Thursday shows Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India as a slice of Chinese territory.

The Chinese language service, Map World, is designed to compete with Google Earth in a market of over 400 million Internet users.

It names all northeast Indian states except Arunachal, which China controversially claims as its own. On the map, the Sino-Indian border is shifted south to northern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is part of China’s southern Tibet region. In Kashmir, the disputed region of Aksai Chin is not named and shown as a part of northwest China.

“All the mapping information has been permitted by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) and related national security departments,’’ Min Yiren, deputy director of the SBSM, was quoted as saying in the China Daily.

Uncertified maps are firewalled in China.

“This is just another move by China to assert its claim over Arunachal Pradesh,’’ said Professor Mohan Malik at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Honolulu.

This latest move continues Beijing’s pattern of asserting in official Xinhua maps and the electronic media that Arunachal is wholly Chinese. Arunachal officials had recently protested Apple’s latest iPhone4 maps that show the state inside China. The Chinese media said Google had not yet applied for a mapping license in China. The global version of Google maps shows Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territory.

“Map World will provide comprehensive geological data,” Xu Deming, SBSM director, was quoted as saying at the launch. The blue homepage of Map World, accessible at tianditu.cn or chinaonmap.cn, opens with an image of continents of clouds floating over the Great Wall.

Xu said the service would become a “famous and reliable Chinese brand” and would let users “fly over mountains and plains around the world and search restaurants and traffic information across the country, free”.

The Chinese media said the mapping service was in the making for the last two years, using satellite images from 2006 onwards. The China Daily quoted an official as saying that the service will update geological data twice a year, compared to Google Earth satellite updates made nearly every two minutes.

According to rules introduced in May, companies in China must apply for approval to provide online mapping services.

About 31 companies — including Nokia, Baidu and Alibaba — have received licenses. The rules require companies to maintain servers on the Chinese mainland to store map data.