Technology giant Google, through its map service, has removed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea as part of Zhongsha Islands of China. This sudden change in Google Maps is apparently the response of Google to an online petition signed by nearly 2,000 Filipinos to remove China’s reference on the disputed island.
According to a report at Philstar this Tuesday, the change was noticed yesterday. This is after Google Philippines told them last Sunday that they are “aware of the issue and that are working to fix it.” Looking at Google Map today will show Google users that Scarborough Shoal has a more neutral reference, instead of pointing to China.
“China’s sweeping claim of South China Sea under their 9-dash line purportedly historical boundary is illegal and is creating tension among nations.” A statement reads on the petition at Change.org, which has 1,895 signatures as of posting. This petition was reported in local news, and has attracted support from Filipinos worldwide.
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“Google maps showing this is part of Zhongsha island chain gives credence to what is plainly a territory grab that peace loving nations should stand against.” The petition added. China had been referring Panatag shoal as Huangyan Island, while Philippines refer to it as Bajo de Masinloc, as the territorial dispute continues.
To confirm the report, TN decided to search Google Maps using the keyword “Panatag Shoal,” and took a screenshot, which you can see above. We also tried “Scarborough Shoal” and the result is still the same. Before the change, Google Maps show a red, 9-dash line identifying that the said island is part of China.
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But while this appears to be a good news for Filipinos, the fight for sovereignty is still far from over. Recently, China announced that their reclamation of the disputed islands is almost complete, with images revealing that there is now a warship and a concrete runway for fighting planes. However, the communist country continues to deny declaring war.
For the latest update of this Philippines-China dispute, the Philippine Navy is reportedly silently recommissioning BRP Sierra Madre, a rusty old ship that was built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. According to Reuters, the hulld and deck of this 100 meter-long (330-foot) tank landing ship is apparently being repaired since last year.
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