Reuters’ Natalie Thomas and Michael Martina report that central authorities will be tightening regulations that could criminalize the distribution of maps which “do not comply with national standards.” These new rules come amid a host of territorial disputes, and as unrest in the ethnically distinct regions of Xinjiang and Tibet continues:
The government also keeps tight controls on maps deemed to reveal sensitive geographic or security information.
China Central Television (CCTV) said publication and display of maps that do not comply with national standards would violate the new rules, as would carrying or mailing them across the country’s borders.
Content “that endangers the country’s sovereignty, safety and interests cannot be marked on maps,” government mapping official Li Weibin said in the broadcast.
Information that could hurt ethnic unity would be prohibited, the CCTV report added, urging that “territorial awareness” figure in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools.
China says it faces a serious threat from separatists in its western Xinjiang region and in Tibet. [Source]
The new regulations will be effective January 1, 2016. Coverage from Xinhua notes that they will include rules for online mapping services.
Border authorities’ tendency to confiscate books and other materials containing unauthorized maps has recently grown amid continuing tension surrounding Beijing’s claims to islands in the South China Sea. Last year, China unveiled a new national map which was vertically extended to lay emphasis on those claims. Cartographers in China have long faced penalties for publishing maps that don’t include all of Beijing’s territorial claims.