The maps being exported as ‘bed covers’ were seized at Shanghai Pudong international airport during a routine check. (The Paper.com/Shanghai Customs)
The maps being exported as ‘bed covers’ were seized at Shanghai Pudong international airport during a routine check. (The Paper.com/Shanghai Customs)

China seizes locally made maps showing Aksai Chin, Arunachal in India

China claims the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet and occupies the India-claimed Aksai Chin region.
By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda
PUBLISHED ON JUL 30, 2021 04:43 PM IST

Chinese customs recently seized a large consignment of locally manufactured world maps, which showed Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.

China claims the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet and occupies the India-claimed Aksai Chin region, mostly as part of the southwest Hotan county of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The consignment, worth some $600, was confiscated during a check by the customs department at the Shanghai Pudong international airport.

At least 300 packages to be exported as “bed covers” were pulled out of the express channel for closer inspection during the check-up, a report on the website, ThePaper.com said.

It was found that the maps on the “bed covers” showed Arunachal and Aksai Chin as Indian territories as Indian maps show.

The goods were immediately seized as they violated legal provisions regulating how Chinese maps should be drawn, the report said.

The regulations are stipulated under China’s State Council, or cabinet’s “Regulations on the Management of Map Drawing and Publication”.

The regulations say Chinese maps should not show content that endangers national unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

The brief article did not mention the identity of the manufacturer or where the maps were to be exported. The consignment of cloth material is likely to be destroyed and the manufacturing company is expected to be heavily fined and censured.

Commenting on the report, angry Chinese netizens demanded that the company should be shut down immediately and called on the authorities to punish the owner.

In March, 2019, nearly 30,000 world maps showing Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India and Taiwan as a separate country were destroyed by customs authorities in the city of Qingdao in the eastern province of Shandong.

“A total of 803 boxes with 28,908 wrong maps were seized and destroyed, the largest amount to be disposed of in recent years,” the province’s Natural Resources ministry said; the maps were taken to a secret location and shredded.

China is particularly sensitive to the depiction of Arunachal Pradesh as a part of Indian territory and even opposes the visit of Indian leaders to the state.

Last week, China criticised the channel NBC Universal for showing an “incomplete map” of the country in its broadcast of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony after a map displayed during the arrival of Chinese athletes did not include Taiwan or the South China Sea.

The display “hurt the dignity and emotions of the Chinese people”, the Chinese consulate in New York said in a social media post on its official Weibo social media account.

“Maps’ references to self-ruled Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea have stirred controversy in recent years, with Johns Hopkins University last year reversing a decision to show Taiwan as part of China on a map indicating the spread of the coronavirus,” Reuters said in a recent report.

China’s sensitivity over territorial claims doesn’t stop at maps.

In 2018, India’s national carrier Air India changed the name of Taiwan to Chinese Taipei on its website after China raised concerns about Taiwan being described as a separate region by various airlines worldwide.

Air India was among 40 international airlines to do so.

Also, last year, the US clothing company GAP had to apologise for selling T-shirts with a map of China which didn’t show Taiwan or the South China Sea.

The international hotel chain Marriott had its Chinese website briefly blocked for listing the Tibet Autonomous Region, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as separate countries in a questionnaire for customers in 2018.

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