China fines UK students for “illegal map-making”

Kate Lance passed along the following:

China fines UK students for ‘illegal map-making’
Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Chinese authorities have fined three British geology students for “illegal map-making activities” in the politically tense Muslim region of Xinjiang, state media reported on Monday. The Xinjiang Daily said the three students from Imperial College London had been researching fault lines in the remote western region, where anger against Chinese rule triggered deadly attacks last year.

The students had permission from China’s Earthquake Administration for geological research, the Xinjiang Daily said, but noted that it had not been cleared with any other government departments.

The students, who were not named in the report, were fined a total of 20,000 yuan (US$2,940) but received no further punishment, the report said. It said authorities confiscated their equipment in October after they were found collecting data in several areas, including Kashgar, the ancient Silk Road trading post where some of last year’s unrest took place.

China has in recent years placed stricter controls on data-collecting activities such as map-making across the country, with state media reports voicing fears that unauthorised maps could compromise state security.



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