China to regulate usage of online maps to safeguard national sovereignty
Published: May 14, 2024 12:05 PM
Photo: IC

Photo: IC

As maps have been widely integrated into mobile applications over recent years to provide convenience of users and improve service quality, Chinese authorities have decided to regulate the usage of online maps to safeguard national sovereignty, noting that a correct national map serves as a symbol of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

China's Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology jointly released a notice on regulation for the usage of online maps associated with mobile applications, to further improve the users' experience of the map function of the mobile apps. 

A correct national territory map is a symbol of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, reflecting the nation's will in sovereignty and its political and diplomatic stance in the international community, said the notice. Maps are the most common and intuitive representation of national territory, with serious political, rigorous scientific and strict legal significance. 

Including "problematic maps" in the apps, which have not gone through required map review procedures in accordance with the laws, seriously undermine China's national sovereignty, security and development interests. Such maps refer to those that inaccurately delineate China's national borders, omit important islands, or even mark sensitive military and confidential information. 

Authorities noted that the operators of mobile apps have to fully recognize the importance of correctly integrating and using maps, enhancing awareness of national territory, and resolutely preventing the use of "problematic maps."

Providers of online map services to register with relevant authorities, go through map review procedures and renew their review procedures when their map content changes or is updated, it said. 

Meanwhile, the map service providers should also take measures including warnings, restricting functions, closing accounts, retaining records and reporting if registered users violate laws and regulations while using the maps. 

The two Chinese ministries also urged related departments to establish information sharing, emergency response and joint enforcement systems. The two departments vowed to regularly release map review information and app filing information to improve the capability of preventing "problem maps" and resisting risks. 

Illegal behaviors such as providing services using maps that have not been legally reviewed and approved, failing to verify and correct newly added content on online maps, uploading content that contains information prohibited from being displayed on maps according to relevant national laws and regulations, will be handled in accordance with laws and regulations by the authorities. 

Global Times