Users of Chinese digital maps have been surprised to find that Israel’s name no longer appears on major Chinese websites like Baidu and Alibaba, sparking speculation about Tel Aviv’s reaction.
This deletion has become a topic of widespread discussion in China, with questions arising about whether this is a response to Israel’s war on Gaza.
An expert on Chinese affairs explained why Israel cannot make an official protest about this matter.
According to a report by the American “Wall Street Journal” on Tuesday, major Chinese companies such as Baidu and Alibaba no longer mention Israel by name in the digital maps they publish online. The digital maps on Baidu delineate the borders between Palestine and Israel, but they do not specify the country by name, and the same can be seen on Alibaba’s maps, even though even smaller countries like Luxembourg are clearly identified.
These companies have not yet provided an official explanation for this action. China’s Stance on the Conflict
Since the start of the fighting between Israel and Palestinian factions three weeks ago, China supported a ceasefire to avoid “further escalation” and humanitarian suffering. Its Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, confirmed the right of any country to defend itself, but he considered Israel’s current escalation to be beyond the scope of self-defense.
Chinese President Xi Jinping offered to coordinate with Egypt and Arab countries to push for a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue as soon as possible.
The Difficulty of Israel’s Protest
Mazen Hassan, an expert on Chinese affairs, points out that the maps from which Israel’s name has been removed are unofficial maps, not fully controlled by the government; they belong to companies owned by businessmen. Thus, Israel will not be able to protest what happened.
Hassan expects that this move “may have been agreed upon by a group of companies; the government may have been aware of this step, but it remains that no one can blame them for this action.”
Regarding China‘s stance on the ongoing conflict, the political researcher says that Beijing has had a clear position from day one of the war. It believes that Palestinians have the right to establish their state, and that violence resulted from Israeli practices towards Palestine. Together with Moscow, China saved the Hamas movement from condemnation in the United Nations Security Council by using its veto power.
According to Hassan, “China has a diplomatic position that slightly leans towards the Palestinian side, but there are political circles within it that lean even more in favor of the Palestinians.”