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Arunachal is Chinese on Google Earth

New Delhi, Oct. 25: Website Google Earth appears to show Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territory.

Zoom out, and you find the state portrayed as an independent country, separated by yellow international borders from India, China and Bhutan. Zoom in, and you see that the state’s Chinese border has turned red, meaning it’s not an international border.

The obvious implication is that Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory being claimed by India.

A year ago, there was no red border and the state was shown as a nation separate from both India and China. Till a few weeks ago, the Tirap and Changlang districts were correctly shown as part of the Himalayan state.

The map on the website now includes the two districts as part of Assam. China claims the whole of Arunachal except these two districts, so the current depiction of the state on Google Earth is wholly in keeping with Beijing’s position.

“We recognise that representations of borders are complex and occasionally contentious, because different countries have different expectations and requirements,” a Google spokes person said.

“As a global internet service accessible to users in every country, Google’s objective is to provide full information and show and explain all countries’ official and authoritatively recognised border claims.

“Google Earth demarcates its maps according to international standards, following the guidance of the US Federal Information Processing Standards Publication and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 3166 standards.”

Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee today announced the formation of an India-China working group to resolve the boundary dispute. That confidence-building measure, however, came amid reports of Chinese incursions into 11 new areas spread across the three sectors.

The number of Chinese intrusions has decreased, intelligence sources said, but the forays are now deeper.

The number has fallen from 178 last year and 160 in 2005 to 141 this year, the sources said. “But now the Chinese troops are coming almost 7-8km into our territory instead of 3-4km like earlier.”

The sources said the army had asked the Indo-Tibetan Border Police to stop patrolling because its jawans risked capture by the Chinese in an ill-equipped border area.

Defence minister A.K. Antony today played down ITBP director-general V.K. Joshi’s recent remark that there were 141 intrusions this year. Antony argued that incursions happen on both sides and termed them “aberrations”.

Eminent China-watcher Manoranjan Mohanty agreed. “Some areas in the 30km no-movement area along the border are not clear as the Line of Actual Control is only a notional line,” the Institute of Chinese Studies expert said.

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