China has launched an investigation into online mapping services by such Internet service providers as Google (GOOG) China and other Chinese websites in an effort to protect state secrets and territorial integrity.

The concerned websites, according to, have been asked to complete a self-check on their online mapping service before the end of 2008, or they will be banned from providing the service.

Three months ago, eight Chinese departments, including the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, jointly issued a document called "Opinion on Strengthening the Management of Websites' Online Mapping and Geographic Information Service", which said that the first half of the year is the time for mobilizing among the websites and urging them to conduct self-reviews on their mapping services, and the second half of this year will be mainly for a comprehensive check and issuing punishments to Internet companies.

Li Yongxiong, director of the Map Management Division of State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, specifically said that Google Earth, a virtual globe software launched by Google in 2005, enables users to browse high definition satellite pictures and just like Google Map, and it also features automatic indicating function and can help information organizations to acquire a country's confidential information such as the residence of government officials and military airports, which is harmful to the nation's safety.


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