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What You Need To Know About China's Map Issues And Information Restrictions 2021

For the first time in six years, Apple's iPhone became the best-selling smartphone in China, the company's second-largest market after the United States. But much of Apple's success can be attributed to CEO Tim Cook, who lay the groundwork years ago by secretly signing a $275 billion pact with Chinese officials guaranteeing Apple will help improve China's economy and technical strength through investments, commercial partnerships, and worker training.

According to internal Apple papers seen by The Information, Cook formed the five-year deal during the first of a series of in-person visits he made to the nation in 2016 to quell a rapid surge of regulatory measures against Apple's company. According to the papers, Apple executives were scurrying before the meetings to save the business's relationship with Chinese officials, who feared the company wasn't contributing enough to the local economy. iPhone sales plunged as a result of the government crackdown and the negative publicity that followed it.

This is a well-researched report that appears to be incredibly well-sourced. Ma did incredible job, especially with the Apple internal materials he was able to secure. That has to have a fascinating background. To cut a long tale short, Apple's relationship with China is as complex and sensitive as you can imagine. I was skeptical of the headline due to the staggering figure of $275 billion and the word "secret," but Ma's inquiry vindicates it.

The Information is exclusively available to subscribers and costs $400 per year. Without a doubt, that's a lot of money, but you get what you paid for. This type of reporting makes it worthwhile for me. When linking to paywalled content, I try to be courteous and not quote too much so that the whole thing is spoiled. However, I feel obligated to share the following gem:

China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping instructed Apple Maps team members to make the Diaoyu Islands, the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between China and Japan, look enormous even when users zoomed away from them, perhaps in 2014 or early 2015.According to internal papers, Chinese officials threatened to postpone approval of the first Apple Watch, which is set to be released in 2015, if Apple did not agree with the unprecedented request.

Initially, several team members at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters protested at the request. However, because the Maps app had become a priority for Apple, the corporation finally gave in. When viewed on Apple Maps in mainland China, the Diaoyu Islands continue to seem bigger than neighboring territory. I'm willing to bet that every member of Apple's Maps team objected to this proposal. It's both ridiculous and insulting.

To encourage skilled cartographers to misrepresent the size of islands for propagandist objectives — even if only to mainland Chinese users — is akin to asking writers to misspell words or make false statements, or mathematicians to produce wrong conclusions. It goes against the profession's essence.

Bespectacled Chief Executive of Apple Inc., Tim Cook smiling
Bespectacled Chief Executive of Apple Inc., Tim Cook smiling

Tim Cook is Apple's CEO, having taken over in 2011 after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was diagnosed with cancer. Cook, who joined Apple in 1998 as SVP of Operations and Chief Operating Officer, served as Apple's SVP of Operations and Chief Operating Officer prior to becoming CEO. Tim Cook, as Chief Operating Officer, oversaw global operations, maintained reseller connections, and kept a tight watch on Apple's supply chain, all of which contributed to the company's success.

Restrictions On Geographic Data In China

Two container crates colliding with flags of China & USA symbolizing each one
Two container crates colliding with flags of China & USA symbolizing each one

The usage of geographic information in the People's Republic of China is limited by national legislation to enterprises that have a specific authorisation from the State Council's administrative department for surveying and mapping. Fines for unauthorized surveys, lack of geotagging information on many cameras when the GPS chip detects a location within China, incorrect alignment of street maps with satellite maps in various applications, and criminalization of crowdsourced mapping efforts such as OpenStreetMap are all consequences of the restriction.

These limits are in place to "protect the security of China's geographic information," according to Chinese lawmakers. "Foreign companies who desire to conduct out mapping or surveying work within China must make it clear that they will not touch upon state secrets or jeopardize national security," Song Chaozhi, an official with the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, stated. Critics outside of China argue that the restrictions restrict foreign investment in key sectors of the Chinese economy and aid in the suppression of dissent.

Private surveying and mapping operations have been banned in mainland China since 2002, according to articles 7, 26, 40, and 42 of the People's Republic of China's Surveying and Mapping Law. The National Administration of Surveying, Mapping, and Geoinformation of China, Surveying and Mapping Law of the People's Republic of China — The law prohibits the publication of significant geographic information and data concerning the territorial air, land, and waters, as well as other sea areas under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China, without authorization. The first article states: This Law was adopted to enhance the surveying and mapping undertaking's administration, encourage its growth, and guarantee that it contributes to the development of the national economy, the strengthening of national defense, and the advancement of society.

Is Apple Maps Banned In China?

Users of iPhones can use Apple Maps, which works well in China and doesn't need a VPN. Google Maps doesn't work on Android phones if you don't have a working VPN on your phone. You'll need to find an alternative to Google Maps.

Why Is GPS Wrong In China?

They don't use GPS like the rest of the world does. This is called the China GPS shift problem because the maps of China use a different standard than the GPS does. This makes the GPS coordinates look off, sometimes by a lot.

Large Fire Breaks Out On The Roof Of Google's Beijing, Zhongguancun Offices

Office of Google in Beijing was in fire and huge dark smoke is coming out of it
Office of Google in Beijing was in fire and huge dark smoke is coming out of it

On Wednesday morning, December 12, a fire broke out on what seemed to be the roof of Google's Beijing offices. According to local accounts, black smoke was initially seen pouring from the top of Tower B of the skyscraper, which is located in Beijing's tech district of Zhongguancun, at approximately 11.05 a.m.

Employees were evacuated, and there were no reported injuries as a result of the incident. According to New York Times tech writer Raymond Zhong, employees were allowed back into the building 20 minutes after leaving. Zhong also used Twitter to share a video of the fire and the massive column of black smoke. There was no official reason for the fire at the time of publication.

The announcement came only hours after Google CEO Sundar Pichai was grilled by the US House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about the company's ambitions to enter the Chinese market with a filtered version of its search engine. Though the incident is unlikely to disrupt Google's activities in the city, it has unfavorably attracted attention to the company's existence among the world and local communities.

Why Is Google Maps Not Allowed In China?

China doesn't have Google or Google Maps. As a result, when you're in China and you're using WiFi or data, you won't be able to get any information from Google, like Google Maps. This is because China has blocked Google and all of its affiliate pages and apps.

But that's not the whole story.It doesn't matter that China doesn't allow you to use the search engine. This is another good thing to read before you go to the east: Virtual Private Network (VPN). Some people don't like connecting to a virtual private network (VPN) because it slows down their internet and can be hard to use at times. It can also tell Google you're in a very different place than where you are. However, it does let you connect to the internet at large, so it's still a good thing.

About The Authors

Alberto Thompson

Alberto Thompson - I live in Vancouver, Canada, and work as a web developer and graphic designer. Back end programming (PHP, Django/Python, Ruby on Rails) to front end engineering (HTML, CSS, and jQuery/Javascript), digital usability, user interface, and graphic design are all areas of web development where I spend my days. I'm a huge fan of web creation and design in all of its forms, as well as assisting small businesses and artisans with their online presence.

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