Beijing: China on Tuesday officially launched its state-run mapping website that rivals Google Earth, showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir -- two key areas of dispute with India -- as part of its territory.
The map called 'Map World' displayed on the Internet in Chinese language is already being used in I phone and other mobile and Internet user applications in China. It shows Arunachal Pradesh that China has always claimed as "southern Tibet" as part of its territory. The map makes no specific mention of southern Tibet but its shows China's borders covered up to Arunachal Pradesh.
Also, the Aksai Chin area, which India asserts as part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir has been included by the map as part of China's Xinjiang province.
Both areas are part of the border dispute being negotiated between the two countries, which so far have held 14 rounds of talks.
The map, however, displays the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir region acknowledging the both sides of the areas respectively under the control of India and Pakistan.
The unresolved border issue has been a simmering issue in Sino-India relations for a long time.
The issue of Arunachal was in the news again this month after two residents of the state were issued stapled visas by China, a development which observers said could be an indication of a change in Beijing's policy. China had earlier refused to offer visas to the residents of the state.
However, China reiterated yesterday that its policy that Arunachal Pradesh is a "disputed area" remains "unchanged".
The online mapping service called MAP WORLD is meant to offer an "authoritative, credible and unified" online mapping service, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Announcing the launch of the map SBSM vice director Min Yiren told the media that global geographic data can be accessed through the website and the data on China was "particularly detailed," covering towns and villages in China's extensive rural areas.
Search engine Google entered into a confrontation with the Chinese government over issues of censorship and hacking and also closed down its operations in the mainland for a brief period.
China then launched a blistering attack on Google and quietly began work on its own search engine. China is the biggest Internet market with more than 400 million users. MAP WORLD has 11 million place names in it. Among them are some 120,000 points of interests including hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, government institutions, banks and roads.
People can use MAP WORLD, for instance, to find a hotel in Beijing near subways or bus stations and then plan a travel route by measuring the distance between the hotel and tourists sites like the Forbidden City, Min said.
According to him, there is no charge for using MAP WORLD's basic services, but services designed for corporate users will come with fees.
The official version came out after revisions and improvements were made based on users' suggestions since the launch of the beta version last October.
Last October, China clarified that the satellite imagery data for the Map service was being provided by commercial satellites from different countries while it has Intellectual Property Right (IPR) over the software.
The clarification came after a Chinese blogger questioned the IPR of the map saying the satellite maps used in Map World most likely come from the US-based DigitalGlobe, which is the satellite imagery provider of Google Earth maps.
First Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 23:21