Taiwan Update on China Maps Draws More Than 1 Billion Views

A map of Taiwan appearing on China's Baidu and Gaode services has sparked massive interest in the country and the map has so far been viewed more than 1.3 billion times.

China's social media platform Sina Weibo, similar to Twitter, had a "maps can show every street on Taiwan island" hashtag trending on its website.

The Global Times, a Chinese state-affiliated publication, said that the Chinese online maps have detailed 2D images of cities like Taipei and Tainan since Friday. On the apps, the island was identified as Taiwan Province.

Due to the significant interest from Chinese citizens, the map service also crashed, which resulted in the hashtag "Baidu map crashed" trending.

Taiwan
A screengrab from Baidu maps of Taipei City in Taiwan. A map of of Taiwan appearing on China's Baidu and Gaode map services has sparked massive interest in the island. Baidu

Baidu told the The Global Times that it always identified the island as a province, according to related national regulations and laws, but it didn't clarify exactly when it started to provide detailed maps of the island.

Baidu added that currently users can check real-time traffic conditions as well as bus and subway schedules in various cities in Taiwan.

Explaining how it obtained the data, Baidu said it was constructed in accordance with the open data, including the "Administrative Divisions of the People's Republic of China" issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, according to The Global Times.

The company added that it also used some third-party data to ensure the map is accurate.

The update from the companies comes as China warned earlier this week that America would face consequences following a visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Military Drills

As Pelosi arrived in Singapore on the first leg of her Asia trip, China's Hainan Maritime Safety Administration announced a series of People's Liberation Army exercises in the South China Sea to run from August 2 to August 6.

The development accompanied a flurry of threats from Chinese diplomatic and military personnel in response to reports that Pelosi would head to Taiwan, a self-ruling island claimed by China.

While not supporting the trip by Pelosi, the White House warned that military activity planned by China could raise the risk of tensions quickly getting out of hand during a sensitive time.

Following Pelosi's trip, China announced it would be imposing sanctions on her. The sanctions were announced on Friday, in a statement in which her actions were called "vicious"

"Despite China's serious concerns and firm opposition, Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan, seriously interfering in China's internal affairs, undermining China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, trampling on the One-China policy, and threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan strait," a spokesperson for the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Associated Press reported on Friday that the sanctions were unspecified, but the foreign ministry Vice Minister Deng Li said China would "prevent the country from splitting with the strongest determination, using all means and at any cost."

Pelosi's actions may have put the U.S. in a difficult position regarding its relationship with China, according to a former U.S. ambassador to China.

Max Baucus told Newsweek that Pelosi's trip "was a mistake" and "ill-advised."

"Bottom line, the U.S. foreign policy with respect to China should be to lower tensions, not increase tensions," he said. "Pelosi's visit clearly increased tensions between the U.S. and China."

He added the trip also "put Taiwan in a tougher spot" as it deals with the repercussions.