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China to investigate Google for illegal maps

BEIJING (AFP) — China has launched an investigation into online mapping services by Internet giants including Google and Sohu in an effort to protect state secrets and territorial integrity, state press said.

According to Min Yiren, vice head of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, authorities hope to get rid of online maps that wrongly depict China’s borders or that reveal military secrets, the People’s Daily said Monday.

The government began the investigation into the problematic maps in April and will continue it until the end of the year, the report said.

Min cited five areas of concern, with the redrawing of China’s borders and placing disputed territory outside the nation the top priority, it said.

Such areas of dispute include Taiwan, the Spratlys and Paracels island chains in the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, it said.

Previous reports, citing Min, said that there were nearly 10,000 illegal map websites in China.

The People’s Daily named US Internet giant Google, as well as China’s Sohu and Baidu, as being under investigation. The report was seen as the first time the government media had named specific companies as possible offenders.

Eight ministries including the mapping bureau, the Ministry of Industry and Information, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Public Safety are involved in the investigation, it said.

Last year, China restricted mapping and survey activity by foreign entities for national security reasons