August 22, 2006
Google: Tibet Who?
As a quick query on Google Earth confirms, Tibet is conspicuously absent from the search monolith's database, which comes as something of a surprise since even Beijing decided to call the place the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) after its military occupation of the country which began in 1949. Ever heard of a little place called Tibet? You know, that disputed region that has circulated through our culture to the point that it's even been mentioned on "The Simpsons" numerous times. Well, Google (and more specifically, Google Earth) seems to have forgotten about it.
Lester Haines, a writer for The Register, was engaged in a search for black helicopters when he typed "Tibet" into the Google Earth search bar. "Your search returned no results" was the error message he got in response. As Haines wrote, this "comes as something of a surprise since even Beijing decided to call the place the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) after its military occupation of the country which began in 1949."The Register is located in the UK, so Haines shouldn't have experienced any of the Chinese censorship that has been imposed on various websites. (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have all been blasted for bowing to that pressure.) Still, while Google Earth may have been unaware of the name "Tibet," it does feature images of the area.
And so, Haines was able to continue his hunt for shady things of a military nature. To see what he found, you can read his article here. If nothing else, you have to admire the road-building ability of the Chinese government. The question still remains, though: "why has Google chosen to cede Tibet to China?" Perhaps the company was trying to get a rise out of Lisa Simpson.