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2 Nov 2023

Simone McCarthy, CNN

China: Names of Israel and Palestine invisible on Baidu and Alibaba online maps as Gaza conflict escalates; incl. Govt. response

"As Gaza conflict rages, online maps from Chinese companies are missing Israel’s name" 2 November 2023

The country name “Israel” does not currently appear on maps on popular mobile applications from leading search platform Baidu or the Alibaba-backed Amap, even though its territory and the names of neighboring countries are clearly shown in a view of the region. Countries of similar or smaller size to Israel such as Cyprus, Lebanon and Kuwait are visible in the same view, for example.

The maps also don’t include a country name marker for “Palestine,” which China recognized as a state in 1988 and is listed on its official maps alongside Israel...

“China and Israel have a normal diplomatic relationship … the relevant country is clearly marked on the standard maps issued by the Chinese competent authorities,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Tuesday in response to a question during a regular press briefing.

Attention to the apparent absence of the country name markers on the apps comes as Israel has launched a war against militant group Hamas, following an October 7 attack on its territory.

It’s not clear whether the missing country names are a new development.

In a response to CNN, a Baidu Maps spokesperson said: “Where space is limited, our maps may not display the names or flags of some territories. Users can find corresponding countries or areas on Baidu Maps by simply using the map’s search function.” CNN has also reached out to Alibaba for comment.

Since the Hamas attack — which killed some 1,400 people, mostly civilians — Israel has hit Hamas-controlled Gaza with weeks of air strikes and expanded ground operations in the strip...China has criticized Israel’s response while neither naming nor explicitly condemning Hamas in its statements. It has instead called for a ceasefire and stressed the need for a two-state solution to establish an independent Palestine as the “fundamental way out” of the conflict...