Beijing (China) - The Chinese government is chastising several online providers, including Google maps, for providing "illegal" satellite imagery of the country and neighboring islands. Min Yiren, the deputy director of China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM), says as many as 10,000 online maps are illegal and publish sensitive information or incorrectly depict national borders.
"Some websites publish sensitive or confidential geographical information, which might leak state secrets and threaten national security," Yiren said.
The SBSM and eight other departments are currently examining thousands of online maps and the government is threatening to shut down or block any sites which do not make the "required corrections".
While China is apparently miffed at the disclosure of its secret (well not any more) submarine base near Hainan, the country is also concerned about online map providers labeling Taiwan as a separate country. In addition, China wants several disputed island chains including the South China Islands, Diaoyu Islands and Chiwei Island to be labeled as belonging to China. The islands are currently claimed by several countries including Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan.
China certainly has the power to shut down servers in the country, its can only block access - through the Chinese firewall - to foreign providers.