"Mapping Tensions: Chinese Online Maps Raise Concerns as 'Israel' Goes Missing Amid Gaza Conflict"
Recent reports highlight a peculiar absence on online maps from major Chinese platforms, such as Baidu and Amap, where the name "Israel" is notably omitted while surrounding countries are clearly labeled. This phenomenon, brought to attention by Chinese internet users, includes a Baidu map in Chinese that seemingly recognizes Israel's borders, encompassing Palestinian territories, key cities, and neighboring countries like Cyprus, Jordan, and Iraq.
Investigations by The Wall Street Journal reveal similar discrepancies on Amap, where even smaller nations like Kuwait are distinctly identified. It remains unclear when Baidu and Amap initiated the exclusion of "Israel" from their maps, and whether this decision predates or postdates the October 7th surprise attack by Hamas, which has since escalated into a violent conflict.
Both Baidu and Alibaba, the parent company of Amap, have not promptly responded to inquiries about this omission. However, a Baidu spokesperson conveyed to CNN that the absence of Israel on their maps was not intentional, attributing it to "limited space" preventing the display of all territory names and flags. The spokesperson suggested that users could locate corresponding countries or areas through the platform's search function.
Chinese authorities have reportedly confirmed that Israel is marked on official maps issued in the country. Despite historical support for Palestinian territories, China has recently strengthened ties with Israel in areas such as trade, technology, and diplomacy. Notably, after a Hamas attack at the Tribe of Nova music festival, a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement called for restraint from both sides, omitting reference to the preceding surprise attack by Hamas and emphasizing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as the fundamental solution to the issue.
"China Urges Swift Action Amidst Escalating Israel-Gaza Conflict"
In a recent statement, the Chinese government expressed growing concerns over the persistent conflict in Israel and Gaza, emphasizing that the prolonged deadlock in the peace process must be addressed urgently. The statement called for increased international involvement to facilitate the resumption of peace talks.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi underscored the importance of justice for the Palestinian people, stating that it lies at the heart of the matter. Notably, in various official statements on the violence, the Chinese foreign ministry has refrained from using terms like "Hamas" or "terrorism."
China's deepening engagement in the Middle East is evident in its role in mediating the restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran and hosting Syrian President Bashar Assad on an official visit. Amid the current conflict, China positions itself as a peacemaker, dispatching special envoy Zhai Jun across the Middle East to promote peace talks between Israel and Hamas. Jun has visited Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, with the possibility of further stops in the region, although a visit to Israel remains uncertain as of now.
In conclusion, China has emerged as a vocal advocate for urgent action in response to the escalating conflict between Israel and Gaza. Asserting that the prolonged standstill in the peace process is untenable, the Chinese government calls on the international community to play a more active role in facilitating the resumption of peace talks.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's assertion that justice for the Palestinian people is central to resolving the conflict underscores China's commitment to the cause. Notably, the Chinese foreign ministry's avoidance of terms like "Hamas" or "terrorism" in official statements reflects a nuanced approach to diplomatic language.
China's expanding involvement in the Middle East, marked by mediating between regional powers and hosting key leaders, positions the country as a peacemaker. The dispatch of special envoy Zhai Jun across the Middle East signifies a proactive effort to encourage peace talks between Israel and Hamas.
As Zhai Jun's diplomatic tour continues, including stops in influential countries in the region, the question of whether he will visit Israel remains uncertain. China's role in these peace efforts underscores its evolving role as a diplomatic force in the complex geopolitical landscape of the Middle East.