Google’s latest 3D rendered maps of four Taiwanese cities have inadvertently revealed the locations of key missile defense locations on the self-governing island, including a previously-secret Patriot missile base. Now, Taipei is rushing to push the tech giant to blur the maps over those sites.
In 2012, Google Maps announced its intention to stereophotogrammetrically map many of the world’s major cities, enabling users to see them in three dimensions and incredible detail.
On Wednesday, the updated maps of the cities of Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan and Taichung on Taiwan Island, which governs itself independently of Beijing, were released to the public.
However, Taipei officials were quick to realize that the pictures were a little too detailed for their comfort.
Google Earth 3D rendered some nice images of SAM sites in Taiwan – https://t.co/nAyCEoEXH3 pic.twitter.com/NmwTDUcBvQ
— Alert 5 (@alert5) February 15, 2019
Now, the Ministry of National Defense is rushing to get Google to blur the maps over those locations, ministry chief Yen Teh-Fa told the Legislative Yuan, the country’s unicameral parliament, on Friday, according to the Central News Agency.
However, Yen reassured the legislature and the public, saying, “The site of defense infrastructure at times of peace does not indicate its location at times of war,” CNA reported.
Taiwan to talk with Google over exposed missile positionhttps://t.co/mO6SE19bmj pic.twitter.com/XM1DrzNL7Y
— Focus Taiwan (@Focus_Taiwan) February 15, 2019
Taipei has previously convinced Apple to blur its maps over other sensitive sites, such as a cutting-edge, US-made radar near the northern city of Hsinchu that can detect missile launches as far away as China’s Xinjiang Province, on the far side of the country, SCMP noted.
The primary adversary of Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China, is Beijing, with which it maintains no formal relations.
The two territories represent the two sides of a civil war that largely ended three-quarters of a century ago when communist forces led by Mao Zedong conquered all of mainland China in 1949.
The government in Taipei is all that remains of the republic, and both Taipei and Beijing maintain that they are the only legitimate Chinese government. A military standoff has thus ensued, with Washington tacitly backing Taipei, including selling Taiwan weapons, even though it maintains no formal relations with the Taiwanese government.