An online mapping service launched by China to rival 'Google Earth' shows Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of this country, in what is being seen as the latest move by Beijing to assert it claim over the Indian territory.
The 'Map World' displayed on the internet in Chinese language, which is already being used in I-phone and by mobile and internet users here, shows Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as "southern Tibet", as part of China.
The map makes no specific mention of southern Tibet but its borders cover up to Arunachal Pradesh, said the Indian officials in Beijing who studied the map.
Also the Aksai Chin, which India asserts as part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, has been included in the map as part of the Chinese Xinjiang province.
Indian observers view it as another move by China to assert its claim over the Indian territory.
The map, however, also displays the Line of Control (LoC), acknowledging both sides of Kashmir. It recognises the Northern Areas of Gligit and Baltistan as part of the "Pakistan-controlled" Kashmir.
A controversy broke out sometime back when the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, while replying to questions on reports of the presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan area, referred to them as "Northern part of Pakistan."
Besides conveying its concerns to Beijing over reports of presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, India had called off defence exchanges with China following denial of visa to Northern Area Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal to take part in talks in Beijing.
India had earlier objected to stapled visas being issued to those from Jammu and Kashmir.
The online Chinese map, however, shows the Northern Areas as part of "Pakistan-controlled" Kashmir, recognising their disputed status.
The map also recognises Sikkim as part of India but Indian officials say it would be difficult to ascertain whether the "Finger Area", a small tract of territory in the north of Gyangyong in Sikkim overlooking strategically important valley known as the Sora Funnel, is included.
It is not possible to make such a fine distinction on this map. Only experts could decipher it, officials here said.
Barring the two claims on Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin which are part of China's official stand, Indian officials say the map contained no new territorial claims as far as the China-India border issue is concerned.
The map already created ripples in recent weeks when some of buyers of the new I-phone in China raised objections over the use of the Chinese language in it to identify the places in the rest of the world. Some of the Apple stores marketing I-phone offered to take back the phones.
India and China have already held 13 rounds of talks to resolve the boundary issue.
The Chinese official media, which carried the report, said China launched its official online mapping service on Thursday, as Google Inc has yet to apply for a Web mapping licence in the country.
The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) officially unveiled the free online map service, which will provide "comprehensive geological data", Xu Deming, director of the SBSM, said.
Map World, the government-backed service, will "allow users to fly over mountains and plains around the world and search restaurants and traffic information across the country, free of charge," he said.
Users can enter Map World directly through www.tianditu.cn or www.chinaonmap.cn and search for two and three-dimensional images across the world, without client installations like Google Earth.
The service features images of satellite remote sensing with a resolution of 500 metres but this is enhanced to 2.5 metres for the Chinese map and 0.6 metres for maps of more than 300 Chinese cities.
"It took about two years to prepare the service with all the satellite images taken from 2006 to 2010," Jiang Jie, director of the database department of the National Geomatics Centre under the SBSM, said.