By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec.18: In a move understood to be part of China’s increasingly vocal assertion of territorial spaces, Chinese official recently announced that any map not in line with their claims will be subject to criminal charges and fines as high as 31,000 USD (200,000 Yuan’s).
China’s Mapping Agency official Le Weibin announced that any wrong maps that “endangers the sovereignty, safety and interests of China” will be met with consequences.
China’s state media Xinhua mentioned that on Dec. 14 (Monday) the state has set new regulations on map making that replaces the laws drawn in 1995 including GPS providers requiring mandatory cartography certificates and online mapping sites necessitating servers within the country.
In addition, the government will be monitoring “errors in compilation” and “leaks of secret geographic information and personal information”. The new regulation also restricts creation, distribution, and publication of both print and online maps. Violators from private ventures and businesses will face penalties, including fines, mapping certificate revocation and suspension of license.
Recent campaigns in the maritime dispute in the South China Sea have seen China claim a chunk of space as its territory. The South China Sea dispute involving multiple nations had intensified following the militarization of the islands by most of the nations and more visibly by the leading claimant China. On Nov.22 this year, China in a defiant push vowed to continue developing its presence both militarily as well as facilities for civilian operations such as fishing and commercial shipping.
"Building and maintaining necessary military facilities, this is what is required for China's national defense and for the protection of those islands and reefs, and to expand and upgrade (the civilian facilities) to better serve commercial ships, fishermen, to help distressed vessels and provide more public services," China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said at the time.
China’s intensified campaigns in the South China Sea maritime disputes and incursions along India’s Burtse and Depsang in northern Ladakh as recent as March 2015 and skirmishes at Northeastern borders in Tawang neighboring Tibet among others are often seen to be moves by China to expand its territorial muscle.
Tim Brook, a professor of Chinese history at the University of British Columbia in an interview to Los Angeles Times said, "Regimes that are anxious about their legitimacy fetishize the signs of legitimacy, So one of the signs of legitimacy is a map—there you are one color, your borders are all drawn properly and you look like a proper state."