China encroaching in India and other countries !

China's new map

On August 28, 2023, the Chinese government released a map. And this map made many countries furious. Moreover, several countries rejected this new standard map. In addition, this map was released with a huge event and announcement in China. Including the state media commenting about the importance of the correct representation of the national territory. Followed by a warning to the people that maps that have errors can cause ” great harm to the society” . ” It can endanger the unity of our motherland”. So, why this map received  condemnation from so many other countries and why China had to go through such great lengths to convince people that there is nothing wrong with this map. In fact forcing people to believe that a map like this is key to national unity. How China uses Cartography to assert and project power in its region because by the looks of it this map looks clean but it has a lot going on border tug o – war, fake islands, a tenth dash on the line in the ocean, proxy borders. Indeed, maps aren’t just maps they are tools of national power.  

china encroaching

China encroaching

The Chinese government wants their country to look like their new map. 

china old map china encroaching
China's old map
china new map
China's new map


Kashmir is a region which is already heavily disputed between India and Pakistan. As you can see in the map the part that is in yellow China claims belongs to them. But so does India. This region is a source of conflict between the countries. Both countries are building stuff in this region roads, communication towers, air fields, they want to be ready if a conflict takes up. In addition, troops from both sides face each other in a stand off at this line. Moreover, this region is in Himalayas, the tallest mountain in the world, so it is very hard to control borders in this terrain. But India and China both want to have things under their control. Since, both countries are nuclear their is a mutual understanding of not using firearms. So, when the conflict breaks out it looks more  like a medieval battle rather than a new age war. The soldiers fight with barbed wire wrapped clubs and fence posts. The most recent clash was just in 2020 right here in Ladakh 20 Indian soldiers and 4 Chinese soldiers were killed.

china encroaching Kashmir


Now down the border between India and China there are several pockets of disputed lands in Himalayas. And as we move more towards the east we reach Nepal. Not too long ago there was a report leaked from Nepal that China is encroaching into the sovereign land of Nepal and building things in the Humla district. Since, Nepal walks a fine line being sandwiched between India and China it did not want the world to know about this. And off course they have to maintain good relation with China. Locals have stated that the Chinese military do not respect the border and come and go as they please.

China encroach in Nepal


Next is Bhutan another land locked country . In 2006 China discreetly pressured Bhutan to give them the mountain territory called Kula Kangri and Bhutan relinquished. China cornered them so they did not have any choice. However, Bhutan was keeping this a secret  but China announced to the world that they control this part of Bhutan through their new map. Likewise China is using the same scheme in different parts of Bhutan like Jakarlung. At the same time obscuring the northern borders as they encroach south. However, it is not showing in their map but in 2020 China claimed that they owned Sekteng part of Bhutan a forested nature sanctuary. Doklam is the most strategic claim of China in Bhutan as it is located at the vital chokepoint between India and China. It is also called the chicken neck as the corridor that connects India to its eastern states is thin like a chicken’s neck. Moreover in the new map China claims that they own Doklam giving them perfect military vantage over India. Consequently this would make India vulnerable incase of an active conflict. And this claim of China is not limited to the map on paper but as seen by satellite China is actually building roads, settlements and structure on this southern territory of Bhutan. In order to enhance their strategic military positions and fortifying their claim on the map. These activities in the border creates tension between India and China. And  helpless Bhutan like Nepal is sandwiched in the middle trying to be a good neighbor to both.

china encroach in Bhutan

India again - Arunachal Pradesh

After Bhutan, China’s map shows that the yellow part shown in the map is in China but it is part of India as Arunachal Pradesh. They even named it South Tibet. But this territory is part of India and is full of Indian citizens. These places are called Lower Subansari – Ziro and Tawang -Tgompa. India’s claim to this land goes back to 1913 when a British representative drew a 890Km border lone in partnership with a representative from Tibet. But China doesn not agree to this they says this isn’t legitimate and since, they own Tibet now this is also theirs. Moreover China argues that they never authorized this line dividing Tibet from India.  And to make this lie believable they are now naming things like rivers, lake, cities in this region. They are pushing control and influence even in these remote places. At the same time India is not one to stand and watch they are spending half a million dollars to solidify their claim by building roads and developing hundreds of villages. 

china encroach india

Fence around Myanmar

So, while the world was down with the pandemic China has been building a fence around Myanmar because the border was so penetrable. The problem is the people who are very unhappy with this as they share culture and language. They would cross back and forth informally trading and meeting friends and family. However this is not a disputed territory but it is an example on how China wants to tighten each corner of the country.

China encroachment myanmar

Nine dash line

Now we have reached the ocean the part of the map that gets a little wild. The government map makes it look simple all of the water inside this dashed line  is China’s.  This is known as the nine dashed line. And it was effectively a hand drawn boundary by the Chinese government in the 1940’s. Its not a precise border and wasn’t agreed upon by the countries here and nor is it legal. At least according to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague who called the nine dash line ” LAWLESS”. Because it clearly cuts through the waters that international law says belong to Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Philippines and that is how you get the jumble of all these lines. But as super powers do China ignores all of this because they can. And they continue to operate as if this entire ocean which by the way is replete with fish, fossil fuels as well militarily strategic islands and the important trade routes. All of it is theirs. This has created active conflict with neighboring countries. Because for China these aren’t just lines on a map China has been pumping sands onto tiny reefs to create islands where there were none. Then they build a military outpost on these newly created islands. In the last decade they have build dozens of these outposts throughout the South China Sea. And you can see that these militarized islands are right inside the waters that the world has agrees belongs to these other countries. The Chinese navy also steps in patrolling these waters and routinely harassing fishermen from other countries reminding them that China isn’t subject to the rules this is their water just like their official map says.

nine dash line

Senkaku Islands

A similar dispute is happening on a group of islands a little north. Where Japan, China and Taiwan all claim these islands that are surrounded by oil and gas fields. China will often flex on Japan by sending coast guard ships into the water  and air space around these islands this is their neighborhood and they think these islands are theirs and they are going to assert their claims on the map as well as in real life.



On China map Taiwan is included as a part of China even though Taiwan has been independent for decades. China insists tat this is theirs and if push comes to shove they’ve made it very clear that they are willing to claim it back by force. And to that end this new map includes an addition to the nine dash line a tenth dash. Aline that drifts dangerously north to encircle the water east of Taiwan. This isn’t the first time that a tenth dash has appeared on a Chinese government map but it is a meaningful moment for the government to just slip in a another dash. And it has created a big debate about what this actually mean. But one thing that almost all experts agree on is that China’s ability to just switch up the ocean claim by adding another dash communicates the original message of using a hand drawn line as your maritime claim. Which is that China feels historically entitled to this region, to this ocean, and they will behave how they choose in their own neighborhood. Especially at a time when its neighbors are partnering with its geo political rival the United States to surround and encircle China with a large military build up in the region.

china encroach taiwan


The last one is a tiny one thats kind of suprising. Its a river island which should belong to Russia. There is a dispute around this but 20 years ago Russia and China agreed to redraw the border like this giving half of this island back to Russia. But in this map they claim it once again and no one is totally sure why. 

china encroaching russia


So this new map out of China is a series of political statements which arguably every map is. Some of these are worthy of debates, some are wishful thinking and some are down right aggressive. But one thing is clear China is now rich and powerful and motivated to exert geo political vision in the world. Its a reminder that maps have always been a tool for great powers to express their aspirations. And this map in this modern day is no different

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