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Southeast Asia, explained

Google paracel islands 2012 03 13Enlarge
Google identifies the hotly disputed Paracel Islands -- claimed by both China and Vietnam -- as Chinese territory. (Screengrab)

Search engine behemoth and unwitting arbiter of territorial disputes, Google, has seriously annoyed Vietnam.

Just type "Paracel Islands" into Google Maps to find out why.

The potentially oil-rich island chain, according to Google, belongs to China. China agrees: it technically administers the barely inhabited islands since the Chinese navy trumped Vietnam in a 1974 battle there.

But Vietnam still claims the islands. As you can see on this map, they're much closer to the Vietnam's coast than China's.

According to the Thanh Nien News, Vietnam's foreign ministry has officially complained to Google, which has yet to respond.

Some scholars and officials, according to Thanh Nien, see a pro-China bias among Google cartographers and worry that Chinese academics will cite Google Maps as proof of sovereignty.

“In a debate with me," a Vietnamese professor told Thanh Nien, "a Chinese associate professor showed the Google Map as indisputable evidence of his country’s sovereignty over the East Sea."

http://www.globalpost.com/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/paracel_islands_map

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