Beijing’s cartographic moves: China’s latest map “borders” on aggression - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 29 August 2023

Beijing’s cartographic moves: China’s latest map “borders” on aggression

Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin have been shown as Chinese territory in its 2023 edition of its “standard map”


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 30th Aug 23


In a resurgence of Beijing’s continuing cartographic aggression against New Delhi, the Chinese government released its latest “standard map” of its border areas, continuing to show several Indian areas, including the entire Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin region, as part of the People’s Republic of China.


The map, released by Beijing on Monday, incorrectly reflects inflated territorial claims of China’s maritime borders. It depicts China’s maritime borders with the so-called “nine-dash line”, covering large swathes of the South China Sea, East China Sea and the Sea of Japan.


India’s Ministry of External Affairs has “outright” rejected the Chinese move.


External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday stated that it is an “old habit” of China to stake claim on territories that do not belong to them. In an interview with NDTV, the foreign minister dismissed Beijing’s “absurd claims” and said “putting out a map does not mean anything”.


Congress Party member, Manish Tewari, has rejected the Chinese claim as “absurd and preposterous”.


“Today, the real issue between India and China is that the Chinese have transgressed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at multiple points on a theatre level. Analysts believe that the Chinese are currently in occupation of 2,000 square (sq.) kilometres (km) of Indian territory. This is the territory that the National Democratic Alliance-Bharatiya Janata Party government needs to get vacated. Under those circumstances, the government should seriously introspect — though the Group of Twenty is a multinational forum — whether it would be in accordance with India’s self-respect to be feting a person in Delhi, Xi Jinping, who is in illegal occupation of 2,000 sq. km of Indian territory along the LAC,” he told news agency ANI.


Such fallacious Chinese representations have also appeared on other Sino-Indian maps. Other regional countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei, have all voiced their claims over the waters of the South China Sea.


In one of those maps, a “tenth dash” has been placed east of Taiwan, depicting Beijing’s claims over the island.


The publication of maps incorrectly depicting parts of India as Chinese territory has been a standard instrument used by Beijing to lay claim to Indian territory and waters.


In the early 1950s, Beijing published its first official map of China laying claim to large swathes of Ladakh and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA). This subsequently became a formal claim to those Indian territories.


The latest map has been released by China’s ministry of natural resources. It was unveiled during the celebration of Surveying and Mapping Publicity Day and the National Mapping Awareness Publicity Week in Zhejiang province.


The English language news portal ChinaDaily has quoted its chief planner, Wu Wenzhong, as saying that “surveying, mapping and geographic information play an important role in boosting the development of the nation…”.


In April 2023, China’s ministry of civil affairs released the Chinese language names for 11 places in “Zangnam”, or South Tibet – the standard Chinese nomenclature for Arunachal Pradesh.


This was the third time in six years that China has announced Chinese names for towns, villages and geographical features in Arunachal Pradesh, reiterating its claim to the entire Indian state.

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