Why are digital Chinese maps distorted and always give wrong locations?

 Why are digital Chinese maps distorted and always give wrong locations?

How is it possible to find the places you want to reach in a place you do not know well? In the past, the answer was to ask or use a paper map and track your location on it, but today the answer is agreed upon: through the Maps application on the smartphone. While this option is perfectly ideal in various parts of the world, it is a very bad idea in China.

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Unlike other countries, the use of electronic maps in China can be a major problem in fact, as the addresses do not match the real places, and even your location on the map is wrong. In short, the names of streets, neighborhoods, and even stores are correct, but they are not in the right place.

China is the only country that suffers from this problem, and of course it is not a coincidence or a natural reason, but rather it is the result of decisions by the Chinese government regarding the matter.

Why are Chinese maps distorted and lacking accuracy

It is known that China is always trying to isolate what is inside it from the outside world, the most famous example of this is the “Great Firewall” that blocks thousands of different websites, including all foreign social media platforms and the vast majority of news sites and newspapers.

But in addition to the Internet, China is very sensitive to any information in it, so Chinese law prohibits any foreign companies or individuals from drawing any maps or plans for China, and even for the Chinese themselves, it is prohibited unless with prior permission owned by several companies only.

As a result, global mapping services such as Google Maps use licensed copies of local companies, but these copies of the maps are pre-distorted and haphazard. Where nothing is in its true place, but rather is moved for a distance between 100 and 600 meters in a random direction, and the fact that the movement is not uniform for all elements of the map, produces maps that are never usable in navigation.

The matter is not limited to maps only, but extends to the global GPS guidance system, where phones are sold in China with a GPS chip that automatically distorts the signal and causes a margin of error of up to 500 meters, and even phones sold outside China do the same once they are detected as the user is in Chinese territory, As international companies are forced to satisfy the Chinese government, since phones and most of their components are manufactured there.

Is there a way to solve the problem of distorted maps?

According to the Chinese government, the reason for distorting maps and preventing foreign companies from making maps is to “protect the security interests and progress of Chinese society.” And given China’s history in terms of banning and banning many services and things, it is likely that its attitude toward maps will not change soon.

For map data in general, it can be corrected by converting from the GCJ-02 standard used by China to the globally recognized WGS-84 standard, but these conversions are done through specialized software and require great experience in the field to do.

For the average user, unfortunately there are no effective ways to avoid Chinese maps being completely distorted.