China / Society

China's maps to be closely monitored for more accuracy

By An Baijie (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-17 07:19

China's mapping authority will apply strict measures to prevent the distribution of maps that contradict the country's territorial stance.

Maps have been found that contain a number of mistakes relating to Chinese territory, including marking the wrong borders, or identifying sensitive or classified geographical information. The map information should be regulated in accordance with the law, a notice issued by the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geo-information has stated.

The publication of maps will be more strictly overseen by the mapping authorities, and publishing houses will be required to have the relevant qualifications before they publish maps, said the notice, which was posted on the website of the administration on Friday.

Online maps that incorrectly show China's territory will be banned and websites uploading incorrect maps will be shut down. Maps brought into the country from overseas will be strictly monitored to prevent territorial misinformation and the distribution of classified information, said the notice.

Customs will confiscate any products with incorrect maps, and any devices or books that contain maps, such as GPS systems, road maps, atlases and travel guides, will be strictly checked before they are imported or exported, according to the notice.

Of the 10 cases of illegal mapping last year, two involved incorrect maps. Those found to be violating the laws in the two illegal cases have been punished, Xu Yao, an official from the publicity department of the administration, said on Tuesday.

In May 2011, customs at Shanghai Pudong International Airport stopped the export of a batch of uncensored 14-inch world globes. The maps on the globes did not mark the islands in the South China Sea, the Diaoyu Islands, and the Chiwei Islet as Chinese territories, the administration said in a statement.

The companies in charge of the export of the globes received a warning from the local government but escaped punishment because the globes did not reach overseas markets and therefore did not create a negative influence, said the statement.

In a separate case, the Chinese edition of National Geographic magazine published maps that did not mark the islands in the South China Sea, the Diaoyu Islands, and the Chiwei Islet as Chinese territory. The incorrect maps appeared in the first five editions of 2010, and in the third and sixth editions of 2011.

Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general with the national security policy commission of the China Association of Policy and Science, said mapping geographical information should be strictly regulated because it is a kind of State practice as opposed to an individual activity.

"Problematic maps with wrong information about borders could trigger diplomatic disputes, or even diplomatic protests," he said. "It would cause grave effects if some of the territories were missed in the maps."

There are nearly 300 agencies nationwide qualified to provide online mapping services. The mapping administration has suspended the mapping services of 65 websites that did not have the relevant qualifications, according to a statement of the administration.

Wang Qian contributed to this story.

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