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Taiwan Demands Apology from Google Over Map Listing


Taiwan's vice president is calling on the world's most popular Internet search engine to make a correction and apologize for listing the island, in its online map service, as a province of China.

The Taipei government wants the U.S. Internet search engine, Google, to change the title of its Taiwan map so it no longer refers to the democratic island as a province of China.

Taiwan considers itself de facto independent of the mainland communist Chinese government.

Taiwan's Vice President, Annette Lu, said Thursday that she is at a loss to understand how Google could make such an error.

"Intentionally or unintentional, it's a terrible mistake and it's a pity for such a famous company [as to] why they made such a ridiculous mistake," she said.

Vice President Lu says a correction and apology are essential.

"So on behalf of Taiwan I strongly protest against it and I hope they can correct the mistake as soon as possible. I'm speaking on behalf of the government and the people and they owe us an apology," she said.

Google officials, while saying they are eager to communicate with Taiwanese officials about their concerns, contend Google's maps rely on international naming conventions.

Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China. It separated from China in 1949 after civil war and has since been self-governed.

China has threatened to invade the island if it declares formal independence. The United States has urged both sides to avoid unilateral steps that could change the status quo.

Google does not have operations on the Chinese mainland, but says it plans to open a research center there.

Recently, another major multi-national Internet company, Yahoo, faced criticism for cooperating with Chinese police in an investigation that led to the jailing of a Chinese journalist.

U.S. software giant Microsoft has also been accused by free speech advocates of helping the Beijing government censor online journals, known as blogs, by blocking subscribers in China from posting such words or phrases as "demonstration," "Taiwan independence," and "human rights."