The National Geographic info-public service platform “Sky Map” is constructed and operated by the National Basic Geographic Information Centre, a unit directly under the National Surveying and Mapping Geographic Information Bureau of China. It is Beijing’s official networked geographic information sharing and service portal, and China’s authority in the field of digital maps.
Recently, some Chinese netizens discovered that Sky Map has updated the map information, and inadvertently disclosed the latest national borders advocated by Chinese officials, especially the disputed areas in “South Tibet”.
Generally speaking, digital maps can be superimposed with different layers for users to use, such as the most commonly used administrative areas, terrain, real-time traffic, etc.
It is understood that the Chinese borders at the bottom of the sky map are based on the 1989 edition of the national borders.
Since then, China has successively solved the border issues with Russia and Central Asian countries, but none of them have been reflected in the map. In fact, many maps used by China are based on this national boundaries.
However, some netizens recently discovered that Sky Map seems to have updated the geographic information at the county level.
Searching the Sky Map for some border maps, counties will have different caves. The county boundaries of some counties clearly transcend the red colour marked 1989 edition of the national border, especially in Tibet area bordering Bhutan and India.
China (Tibet)’ counties bordering India and Bhutan from east to west are: Chayu County, Medog County of Linzhi City, Cuona County, Luoza County of Shannan City, Kangma County, Yadong County of Xigaze City.
Among them, the three counties, namely, Chayu, Medog, and Cuona are divided into two by the McMahon Line, the northern area is controlled by China, and the southern area is controlled by India, namely “South Tibet”.
Longzi County in Shannan City does not theoretically border India, but the McMahon Line runs through the county from southwest to northeast, with Chinese control in the west and Indian control in the east. Therefore, the so-called “South Tibet” area is composed of a part of Chayu County, Motuo County of Nyingchi City and Longzi County and Cuona County of Shannan City.
Judging from the sky map, the southern boundary of Chayu County is roughly the same as the boundary in 1989, the southern part of Motuo County has contracted northward, and the southern boundary of Cuona County also roughly coincides with the boundary in 1989. As far as Longzi County is concerned, China does not border India at all, as Beijing advocates.
Cuona County of Shannan City not only borders with India but also borders with Bhutan. China-Bhutan border dispute area, Mulasading, is located in Cuona County-south of the McMahon Line. Mulasading originally belonged to Tibet and was managed by the Tawang Temple. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the “Permanent Peace and Friendship Agreement” to transfer Mulasading to Bhutan. In the latest Sky Map, the border of Cuona County in the Mulasading region is south of the 1989 edition of the national border.
Baiyu area, the disputed region between China and Bhutan, is located in Luozha County of Shannan City, and it consists of the eastern and the western areas. Judging from the southern border of Luozha County on the Sky Map, the county boundary in the eastern disputed area is north of the national border in 1989, and the county boundary in the western disputed area is south of the national border in 1989. It seems that there is a consciousness of changing from small to large. The tacit understanding between Beijing and Thimpu is unknown.
The disputed area in the west of the Sino-Bhutanese Boundary is mainly located in Yadong County of Shigatse City. The vigorous Doklam confrontation between China and India in 2017 occurred in the Doklam area in the south of Yadong County. It is actually a border dispute between China and Bhutan’s border areas and it has nothing to do with India. In the latest Sky Map, the borders of Yadong County and the 1989 edition of national borders perfectly coincide, and no change has occurred.
In addition to Tibet, the borders of Tashkurgan County in the Kashgar region of Xinjiang have also changed. The northwestern part of the border is more than the 1989 edition. According to the 2011 border agreement between China and Tajikistan, this extra part is 1,158 square kilometers east of the Sarekole Mountains.
While the Sky Map updated the county-level borders, it seems that the 1989 edition of the national borders is still used at the provincial and municipal levels. The provincial and municipal boundaries of Tibet’s Nyingchi and Shannan have not changed. There are of course some exceptions. For example, the Heilongjiang provincial boundary reflects the achievements of the Sino-Russian boundary demarcation.
Heixiazi Island in the east of Fuyuan City is divided into two by the provincial boundary. The east belongs to Russia and the west belongs to China, but the boundary region of all the islands of Heixiazi between Jiamusi City and Fuyuan City are placed under China.
In addition to these, in the 13th Five-Year Plan released by Shannan City in 2016, also officially covered the area of “South Tibet” in Shannan City-the total land area of Shannan Region is 79,253.53 square kilometres, of which 31,329.59 square kilometres are occupied by India and are still on the planning map. What is more special is that instead of the traditional reference as “Indian Controlled Area”, it is indicated as the “India-occupied Area” on the plan, it is also marked in the “Shannan Overview” section of the official website of Shannan City Government. The total area of Shannan City is 79,300 square meters kilometres (including 31,300 square kilometres of India-controlled area).
Words like “Control” and “Occupied” are not simple word games.
Mentioning the disputed region as “India Occupied Area” in the official profile reflects that there is progress and Beijing is facing the issue instead of avoiding it.
Courtesy – DWNEWS