Beijing has issued a new map that shows 130 islands in the East and South China seas as part of mainland China.
Besides Japan in the East China Sea, China is locked in dispute with Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia among other countries over the ownership of islands in the South China Sea.
A new map, it seems, is Beijing's new diplomatic tool. In November, it had emerged that in its new biometric passports issued in 2012, Beijing was printing maps that showed the entire South China Sea and Taiwan as part of China. (India began to mark its visas for anyone travelling from China to India with its own official map that showed the disputed areas of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh as part of India after the Chinese passport mapped these areas as part of China.)
In the latest episode, state-run Xinhua news agency issued an early-morning government statement on Saturday announcing that China for the first time had inked South China Sea islands on its new official maps in equal scale to that of the Chinese mainland.
At the very end of the statement, it was mentioned there was "a zoomed illustration of the Diaoyu Islands, displaying their positional relations and those of their affiliated islets with the Chinese mainland and Taiwan."
China and Japan are entangled in a dispute over the Diaoyu islands (Senkaku in Japanese) and both countries have been testing each other in the sky this past week with fighter jets flying over East China Sea.
"The new vertical-format maps of China, published by Sinomaps Press, include more than 130 islands and islets in the South China Sea, most of which have not been featured on previous maps of China, the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation said," Xinhua reported.