Head of surveying bureau says maps are 'key to a country'
A citizen of the United States has been fined for illegal surveying activities in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Xinjiang surveying and mapping bureau announced on Monday.
In August 2011, the bureau received a report from a local resident that a man was using a handheld GPS to collect geographic information and coordinates in an area near a People's Liberation Army headquarters in Manas county, Changji Hui autonomous prefecture.
According to the bureau, the US citizen came to Xinjiang from Beijing, allegedly to register a travel agency to offer outdoor tour services to foreigners in Urumqi, Changji and other places in Xinjiang.
The two GPS receivers that the man used in Xinjiang were both for professional surveying and mapping activities, and collected and archived more than 90,000 geographic coordinates of China's territory, with no permission from government surveying and mapping departments.
On Jan 31, the man was fined 20,000 yuan ($3,170) and the Xinjiang surveying and mapping bureau confiscated the surveying equipment and results.
"The man collected more than 40,000 geographic coordinates of Xinjiang, with the rest from other parts of China," said Zhang Qi, director of the bureau's law enforcement office.
Illegal surveying and mapping by foreigners in Xinjiang is "a threat to national defense and economic security", Liu Geqing, head of the bureau, told China Daily on Tuesday.
Xinjiang, which borders eight countries and is a key energy and resource base, should intensify the confidentiality of geographic data of "any key military and economic facilities" and crack down on illegal surveying and mapping, he said.
There are similar cases involving people from foreign countries every year, Liu added.