China’s cartographic obsession – Louisa Lim
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to give Chinese President Xi Jinping an antique map, she unleashed a Pandora’s box of cartographic tensions. The 1735 map – printed by a German publishing house but made by French cartographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville – depicted a China without Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia or Manchuria. In addition, the borders of Taiwan and Hainan were shown a different colour from China. At a single glance, this document undermines Beijing’s claims that these regions have been inalienable parts of its sovereign territory since ancient times.
To many Chinese, this gift was at best a shocking breach of etiquette, at worst a slap in the face.