MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles®) – Before today, a search on Google Maps would point you to an island in the South China Sea called Zhongsha.
Its international name is Scarborough Shoal and is one of disputed territories in the Spratly Islands, a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atols, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The Spratly archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia and southern Vietnam. All three countries plus China claim part of the archipelago as part of their respective territories.
With the click of the mouse, Google erased the island from the map after an outcry from Filipinos who maintained that naming the island Zhongsha would suggest that it belongs to China, when in fact, it belongs to the Philippines, or so it is claimed.
“We’ve updated Google Maps to fix the issue. We understand that geographic names can raise deep emotions which is why we worked quickly once this was brought to our attention,” Google’s office in Manila said in a statement.
China, meanwhile, has accused Google of taking sides on a territorial dispute that should be settled by the governments involved, not by a private company. Furthermore, China says that Google’s action is in retaliation for the Chinese government’s crackdown on gmail and the Google search engine in the Chinese mainland.
So, if there is a name of an island or body of water anywhere in the world that you are not happy about, don’t despair. All you need is to start a petition for Google to erase it from the map. Or at least change its name.