map of china

Check Your Lonely Planet: Maps That Don’t Adhere To China’s South China Sea Claims Are Illegal

Make sure the flag is red with five yellow stars

Tourists armed with outdated copies of Lonely Planet beware: all maps of China brought into the country must comply with the official version, at risk of criminal punishment. The law, passed by the State Council of China, comes into effect January 1.

According to the “Map Administrative Ordinance”, no individual or business can produce, display, or sell maps depicting the People’s Republic of China that are not in accordance with national standards and regulations. Likewise, no person can carry or deliver such maps in or out of the country.

The only exceptions to the rule include scenic maps, street guides, and subway station maps.

China’s willingness to enforce its borders by policing mapped depictions of itself comes at a time of controversial territorial expansion, notably in the South China Sea. As evidence of its territorial claims, China has unveiled a 1947 map featuring a “nine-dash line” demarcating the country’s claim to land in the South China Sea including the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and additional territory including the Pratas Islands, Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor