China’s digital maps omit Israel amid ongoing war with Hamas fighters in Gaza

Israel-Gaza war: China's digital maps from tech giants Baidu and Alibaba do not mention Israel, raising questions among netizens and reflecting Beijing's vague diplomacy in the Middle East.

Livemint, Written By Sayantani Biswas
First Published31 Oct 2023
People paint an Israeli flag on the ground to, according to them, trample and drive over, amidst tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, in southern village of Seddiqine, Lebanon
People paint an Israeli flag on the ground to, according to them, trample and drive over, amidst tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, in southern village of Seddiqine, Lebanon(REUTERS)

Israel-Gaza war: As the world witnesses and gets entangled in the the war between Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel and Hamas fighters from Gaza, China in al likelihood has expressed its stand, though their map.

In the latest of their stance, netizens have noticed that the digital maps being circulated in China does not mention Israel. The digital maps provided by tech giants Baidu and Alibaba skips mentioning Israel, even though smaller nations like Luxembourg has been pointed on the map.

Catch LIVE updates from Israel-Gaza war here

Notably, maps from China has often been the bone of contention in the East Asian Nation's diplomatic relation with other countries. Notably, the absence coincides with China's often non-committal diplomatic stance toward the Middle East and has raised questions among Chinese netizens, particularly in light of recent conflicts.

According to a report by Wall Street Journal, the digital maps on Baidu show the demarcations between Israel and the Palestinian territories but don't identify the country by name. The WSJ report says that the move reflected 'Beijing's vague diplomacy in the region.'

Jonathan Cheng, the WSJ's China bureau chief, tweeted, 'Chinese internet users expressed bewilderment that the name 'Israel' doesn't appear on digital maps from Baidu and Alibaba, an ambiguity that matches Beijing's vague diplomacy and contrasts with its general attentiveness to maps.'

China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, discussed the conflict with officials in Washington at the weekend amid fears of a bigger regional war. The US has pledged it would work with China on trying to find a resolution.

There are hopes China could tap into its close relationship with Iran, which backs Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, to de-escalate the situation. US officials apparently pressed Wang to "urge calm" with the Iranians, reported the Financial Times.

China's first statement on the conflict angered Israel which expressed "deep disappointment" that China did not condemn Hamas nor mention Israel's right to defend itself.

However, in its later statements China did say that Israel maintained it's right to defend itself. Wang later told Israel that "all countries have the right to self-defence" - but he also said elsewhere that Israel's actions have gone "beyond the scope of self-defence".

China faces a difficult balancing act because it has long openly sympathised with the Palestinian cause.

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