Pixel by Pixel, Taiwan Maps Its Maritime Claims


Seven countries lay claim to parts of the South and East China Sea, the strategic waters through which 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage passes, and under which vast deposits of oil and gas may lie. Taiwan is pushing its first-ever mapping project to back up its own claims—which are as large as mainland China’s. (Christian Science Monitor)

Use our MapMaker Interactive to identify and map the claims of Taiwan and the other six countries in dispute.

For reference, the good folks at the Council on Foreign Relations have put together a fantastic feature on China’s maritime disputes. They also have standards-aligned educational resources if you want to dig deeper into the issue.

Discussion Ideas



  • According to the Christian Science Monitor article, China and Taiwan both use the so-called “nine-dash line” to claim sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea. (Read the interesting cartographic history of the nine-dash line here.) Why would the expensive, extraordinarily detailed satellite maps being created for Taiwan make a difference in this dispute?
    • It’s surveillance. Taiwan’s mapping strategy may put it “one step ahead in the knowledge game of who is doing what in the contested waters.” It allows Taiwan to see covert actions rival countries are taking to stake their claims in the region.

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