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It's the Cartographers' Fault: The Google-China Tension Simmers On
By Chris Thompson
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - 11:05am
Via InformationWeek comes this fascinating note by Stefan Geens, the author of the blog Ogle Earth, who notices a new fight potentially brewing between Google (GOOG) and the Chinese government. It's not just in the area of Web search that the two parties have near-irreconcilable differences—it's also in cartography.
If you look at Google Maps via the company's Hong Kong site, you'll see a wide array of user-generated cartographic detail, from "Panoramio, YouTube, Wikipedia and Web cams," Geens writes. But at the mainland Chinese site, no such citizen participation is allowed. Further, the Hong Kong map site notes that the contested territory along the Indian border is, you know, contested—but the mainland map unambiguously lists all the land as exclusively Chinese territory.
This is yet another point of contention between Google, which strives to make all information available everywhere, and China, which has a decided interest in controlling that same information. This fight is impacting Google's bottom line; when a Chinese agency recently released the list of companies approved to more precisely map the country's geography, Google was not among the winners. But come to think of it, neither was any foreign company.