Google removes China reference to Panatag

By Janvic Mateo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 14 2015 09:09 AM | Updated as of Jul 14 2015 05:09 PM

MANILA - Technology giant Google has removed from its maps service a Chinese reference to the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

A check on Google Maps yesterday showed that it no longer identified the shoal, located off the coast of Zambales, as part of China’s Zhongsha Islands.

The map now refers to the sandbank as Scarborough Shoal, the more neutral reference to the area being claimed by different countries, including the Philippines.

Manila refers to the shoal as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, while Beijing calls it Huangyan Island.

In a statement sent to The STAR late Sunday, Google Philippines said they “are aware of the issue and are working on a fix.”

More than 1,200 people have signed a Change.org petition asking the technology giant to remove the Chinese reference.

“China’s sweeping claim of South China Sea under their nine-dash line purportedly historical boundary is illegal and is creating tension among nations,” read the online petition (http://chn.ge/1LXhtSk ).

“Google Maps showing this is part of the Zhongsha island chain gives credence to what is plainly a territory grab that peace loving nations should stand against,” it added.

Netizens urged the technology giant to update its map last week, even as a high-level delegation from the Philippines is in The Hague in the Netherlands to present oral arguments before the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the jurisdiction of the court over the case on its claims in the West Philippine Sea.

“The use of that name promotes the violation of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) if it perpetuates China’s unlawful claim,” one petitioner said.

“Google, you are not the UN, nor China, nor the Philippines. You have no right to arbitrarily assign land of sovereign nations to other nations,” another added.

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