Taiwan asks Google to blur island images

Taipei’s Defense Ministry asks Google to blur Itu Aba, its one and only holding in the South China Sea, from satellite images on Google Maps and Google Earth. Graham Mackay reports.

A tiny island – with something big to hide.

That’s the line from experts after Taiwan’s defence ministry asked Google to blur satellite images of Itu Aba.

It’s one and only piece of turf in the South China Sea.

Images on Google Earth show four three-pronged structures just off the coast.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF TAIWAN CORRESPONDENT, JR WU SAYING:

“Defence experts in Taiwan that we’ve spoken to say given the semi-circular layout and what they can see on these images, it could be use for a defensive purpose. It could be part of an artillery base. It’s on the northwestern corner of Itu Aba, which means it faces into the main seaborne traffic.”

Several countries are locked in bitter disputes over sections of the South China Sea.

None more so than China, which is rapidly building up what appear to be military facilities.

It’s less clear what others may be doing to beef up their presence in the region.

But one thing is for sure – no one wants to show their hand.

As yet, there’s been no word from Google on whether it’s prepared to help Taiwan.

Or even if it could.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF TAIWAN CORRESPONDENT, JR WU SAYING:

“As we understand it, the images that we see on Google Mapping – Google actually purchases from various satellite operators, so weather or not they can blur is unclear, especially if these images are also available elsewhere in the public domain.”

The United States is constantly urging against militarization of the South China Sea.

Until now, it’s never had to contemplate one of its own corporate giants potentially helping to covering it up.

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