Last updated
Tianditu (天地图)
Available in Simplified Chinese
Owner State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping
URL www.tianditu.gov.cn
RegistrationOptional, required for commercial use
Launched18 January 2011;9 years ago (2011-01-18)

Traditional Chinese 天地
Simplified Chinese 天地
Literal meaningworld map (figurative)

Tianditu (Chinese :天地图; also Map World [1] in logos) is China’s first official free web mapping service. The beta version was launched by China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) on October 21, 2010. State media suggests that about 30 million netizens from over 210 countries and regions visited Tianditu after the beta version came online. After beta testing, Tianditu was officially launched on January 18, 2011. In June 2011, a trial version for mobile phones came online. And in October 2011, the mobile phone version was officially launched. [2]



Five months before Tianditu was officially launched in October 2010, the SBSM issued a regulation demanding that all companies wishing to provide online map services in China apply for a license. In order to obtain the license, companies have to agree to maintain their mapping servers in China. This created an unfavorable situation for Google, as the company aspires to greater control over its own data and servers. In March 2010, after the company’s mainland servers suffered major attacks in 2009 (presumably from the Chinese government), Google re-directed its search engine from Mainland China to Hong Kong. As Tianditu seeks to offer functions similar to those Google mapping service provides, one can see the creation of Tianditu as part of Beijing’s strategy to squeeze Google out of the China market, eventually making Tianditu the main source of geographic information for Chinese users. [3] This can be seen in various government publications that tout Tianditu as the ‘authoritative’ source for online geographic information. For example, SBSM Director General Xu Deming expressed that the ultimate aim is to create ‘one web, one map, and one platform’, offering the most authoritative and comprehensive web mapping services to Chinese citizens. Xu Deming also emphasized that Tianditu would be a ‘reliable and excellent national brand’ in the field of online mapping services. [4]


Technologically speaking, many users[ who? ] have questioned whether the Chinese mapping service is just a replica of Google Maps and Google Earth. Netizens based in China and elsewhere have posted images extracted from Tianditu and Google to make a comparison and found images from both sources to be identical, except that those from Tianditu are in Chinese. There are also complaints about the quality of the service because the data is only updated about twice a year, while Google can update its information more frequently, as often as every few minutes if it wishes. Given that the service is new, it is expected that more will be done to improve its quality in the coming years. [3]

Disputed areas

China is shown to assert its political claims over a number of controversial geographic locations on Tianditu. Other Chinese mapping services, such as Amap and Baidu Maps, have similar modifications made to them. For example, Taiwan is labeled as a province of China on Tianditu. The Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are also included in the Chinese territory, although countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines also claim these islands. The nine-dash line is drawn around them. Arunachal Pradesh is also labeled as a part of Tibet belonging to China, while the Indian government believes it is part of India. [5]

In addition to above, the maps also show the partially recognized states of Kosovo under Serbia (see China-Serbia relations) and Russian-occupied territories of Georgia.[ citation needed ]

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  1. "China unveils its own version of Google Earth". The Daily Telegraph . 22 October 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2019. "Map World" was unveiled by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping on Thursday
  2. Chen, Yu-Wen; Yap, Ko-Hua; Lee, Joey Ying (2013). "Tianditu: China's first official online mapping service". Media, Culture & Society. 35 (2): 234–249. doi:10.1177/0163443712468776. ISSN   0163-4437.
  3. 1 2 "网络地图国家队"天地图"开通 卫星图片疑与谷歌同源". Southern Metropolis Daily. 2010-10-25. Archived from the original on 2010-12-31. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  4. Ma, H.-Y (2011) ‘Observing Digital China from Tianditu: An Interview with SBSM Director General Xi Deming’, China’s National People’s Congress Publication 46-47.
  5. Chen, Yu-wen (Dec 19, 2010). "Drawing borders alters our world". Editorials. Taipei Times . Retrieved 30 December 2019.