According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Israel can no longer be found on China’s leading online digital maps, including Baidu and Alibaba. Web users have noticed that both Baidu’s Chinese language maps and Alibaba’s Amap have removed the name of Israel from their maps.
Although Baidu’s maps still show the borders of Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as key cities in the region, the country is no longer specifically identified by name. Similarly, Alibaba’s Amap, known for its attention to detail, no longer displays the name of Israel on its maps. This is surprising considering that even small countries like Luxembourg are clearly labeled on the platform.
Despite media requests for comment, both companies have remained silent on the issue. It is unclear exactly when Israel disappeared from their maps, but discussions about this development have emerged since the escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict earlier this month.
The speculation is that the removal of Israel’s name from the maps may be linked to the abundance of anti-Semitic comments flooding the Chinese internet over the past month. Recently, the Israeli Embassy in China had to close the comment section under its official account due to verbal attacks from users on the Chinese platform Weibo.
While the Chinese government has officially remained neutral in the Middle East conflict, calling for an end to hostilities and condemning attacks on civilians, China has a long history of supporting Palestine. It recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964 and Palestinian sovereignty in 1988. In 1989, China established full diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. During his visit to Saudi Arabia in 2022, he referred to the global community’s failure to recognize Palestine as a country as a “historical injustice.” These statements indicate China’s ongoing commitment to the Palestinian cause.
The removal of Israel’s name from Chinese digital maps raises questions about the extent of China’s support for Palestine and its influence over public opinion within its borders. As tensions in the Middle East continue to escalate, it remains to be seen how this development will impact the perception and representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the digital landscape.
In conclusion, the disappearance of Israel’s name from Chinese digital maps on platforms like Baidu and Alibaba has sparked discussions and raised concerns about China’s position on the Israel-Hamas conflict. The prevalence of anti-Semitic comments and China’s historical support for Palestine suggests a potential influence on the decision to exclude Israel from the maps. These developments shed light on the complex dynamics surrounding the representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the digital realm and highlight China’s role in shaping public opinion.