K J M Varma
Beijing, Jan 18 (PTI) China today officially launchedits 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 itsterritory.
The map called ''Map World'' displayed on the Internetin Chinese language is already being used in I phone and othermobile and Internet user applications in China.
It shows Arunachal Pradesh that China has alwaysclaimed as "southern Tibet" as part of its territory. The mapmakes no specific mention of southern Tibet but its showsChina''s borders covered up to Arunachal Pradesh.
Also, the Aksai Chin area, which India asserts as partof Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir has been included by the map aspart of China''s Xinjiang province.
Both areas are part of the border dispute beingnegotiated between the two countries, which so far have held14 rounds of talks.
The map, however, displays the Line of Control (LOC)in Kashmir region acknowledging the both sides of the areasrespectively under the control of India and Pakistan.
The unresolved border issue has been a simmering issuein Sino-India relations for a long time.
The issue of Arunachal was in the news again thismonth after two residents of the state were issued stapledvisas by China, a development which observers said could be anindication of a change in Beijing''s policy. China had earlierrefused to offer visas to the residents of the state.
However, China reiterated yesterday that its policythat Arunachal Pradesh is a "disputed area" remains"unchanged".
The online mapping service called MAP WORLD is meantto offer an "authoritative, credible and unified" onlinemapping service, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Announcing the launch of the map SBSM vice directorMin Yiren told the media that global geographic data can beaccessed through the website and the data on China was"particularly detailed," covering towns and villages inChina''s extensive rural areas.
Search engine Google entered into a confrontation withthe Chinese government over issues of censorship and hackingand also closed down its operations in the mainland for abrief period.
China then launched a blistering attack on Google andquietly began work on its own search engine. China is thebiggest Internet market with more than 400 million users.
MAP WORLD has 11 million place names in it. Among themare some 120,000 points of interests including hotels,restaurants, retail businesses, government institutions, banksand roads. .