Google Placates India, China With Different Map Versions

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Google has hit upon an interesting way of placating both China and India over the way its map application displays Arunachal Pradesh, a region whose ownership is disputed by the two countries.

The Chinese version of Google Maps shows parts of Arunachal Pradesh as inside China's borders. In contrast, the Indian version of Google Maps depicts the state as part of India.

But both of those depictions differ from the global version of Google Maps, which shows Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territory within broken lines on the map.

In August this year, Google Earth came in for sharp criticism in India for what Google subsequently described as a mistaken use of Chinese script to mark areas in Arunachal Pradesh, an eastern state administered by India.

Google products that have been localized to the local domains of a region depict that country's official position on the area, a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. The Indian version of Google Maps represents the official position of the government of India, and other country-level domains may similarly depict the official positions of the country's government, she added.

As for the global version on the main Google Maps site, the spokeswoman said it was Google's standard practice to show all disputed regions around the world on its global properties. This does not endorse or affirm the position taken by any side, but merely provides complete information on the prevailing geopolitical situation to its users, she added.

The dispute between India and China over Arunachal Pradesh has heated up recently. China, which claims the state as part of southern Tibet, protested earlier this month after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to Arunachal Pradesh to canvass for his party ahead of elections in the state.

Google Maps applies the same policy for its depiction of Jammu and Kashmir, a territory disputed by India and Pakistan. The global version of Google Maps shows Kashmir as disputed territory, while the Indian version shows Kashmir as part of India.

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