By Aarti Tikoo Singh
Sky Map, China’s authority on digital maps, is constructed and operated by a unit directly under Beijing’s National Surveying and Mapping Geographic Information Bureau. Recently, Sky Map users discovered that it has updated the country’s map with the latest national borders, including India’s Arunachal Pradesh, a DW media report said.
Arunachal Pradesh, a hill state in the Northeast bordering Tibet, was part of British India in 1913-14 and formally included in India when the McMohan Line was established as the border between India and Tibet in 1938.
China continues to consider Arunachal Pradesh a part of Tibet, which it occupied in 1951.
The map of China, until now, is based on the 1989 edition of the Sky Map of its national borders. Though since then, China has successively solved its border issues with Russia and Central Asian countries, but none of them have been reflected in the map.
However, as per a DW news report in Chinese, some users noticed that Sky Map has now updated the geographic information at the “county” level. “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,” the report said.
China has claimed its sovereignty over Tibet “counties bordering India and Bhutan from east to west — “Chayu county, Medog county of Linzhi city, Cuona county, Luoza county of Shannan city, Kangma county, Yadong county of Xigaze city”.
Chayu, Medog, and Cuona counties are divided by the McMahon Line with the northern parts in China and the southern parts in India. “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.”
However, China calls Indian area and part of Chayu county, Motuo county of Nyingchi city and Longzi county and Cuona county of Shannan City, “South Tibet”.
As per the updated 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. The Longzi county 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.”
“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,” the report said.
China occupies India’s Aksai Chin, around 37,000 sq km uninhabited high-altitude desert part of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, bordering China’s Xinjiang province.