If you haven’t checked to make sure that all your maps are up to date, now might be a good time, because on January 1 new strict rules come into effect in China against outdated and illegal maps.
Of course, Beijing isn’t so concerned about whether your map features South Sudan or whether it calls the nation to its southwest Burma or Myanmar. They are more worried about what your map says about who owns the South China Sea.
To support its claim to the region, China uses a map (kinda) drawn up in 1947 featuring a “nine-dash line” that hugs the coasts of neighboring countries and gives China ownership of various island chains like the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands that are also claimed by other states like Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan.
According to CCTV, the proposal “Regulation of PRC on Administration of Maps” was passed on November 11 and will officially take effect on January 1st. It states that no individual or business can produce, display or sell maps depicting the PRC that do not meet with national standards and regulations. These kind of wrong maps aren’t allowed to be brought in or out of the country as one LA Times reporter found out earlier this year.
The new ordinance will also cover online mapping. To help with monitoring, online maps are required to set up their server inside of the country and must acquire an official certificate.
However, it’s not as Draconian as may it seem, scenic maps, street guides and subway maps will all be exceptions to the rule.
Still, those caught with the wrong maps will be subject to a hefty fine of up to 200,000 yuan and could even be tried in court.