Demonstrations, Tibet

National Geographic Must Change It’s Map Policy On Tibet

Extract Of National Geographic Tibet Map From 1960s

The effort continues to question National Geographic’s (NG) policy on presenting Tibet as part of China, including the use of Sinocized place-names, that have replaced Romanised Tibetan versions.Thanks to the tireless activism and support of many friends on Facebook and Twitter considerable pressure is being generated that demands the respected journal to review its troubling willingness to present as cartographic fact, what in reality is China’s bogus propaganda claims that Tibet is part of Chinese territory. Today we received from our colleagues Bod Rangzen a response from National Geographic, to an individual who felt so concerned that Tibet is being wiped off the map that they contacted their offices, here is the reply from NG.


Your May 10 email regarding National Geographic’s cartographic portrayal of Tibet has been brought to my attention. The purpose of every National Geographic reference map or atlas is to provide our readers with sufficient information by which the current geopolitical reality of the world’s disputed regions can be presented. This policy extends to place-names, where we adhere to official rather than academic or other toponymic conventions. Please note, that where scale permits, our maps do label Tibet and show the boundaries and administrative center—Lhasa—of this Chinese autonomous region.

Although China’s occupation of Tibet might be unrecognized or considered illegal by some, the fact remains that this region is presently administered by China. To otherwise portray Tibet, either cartographically or toponymically, would be misleading to our readers and contradict the Society’s long held policy of portraying de facto situations. Thank you for expressing your views on this issue. Your interest in National Geographic is appreciated.

Juan José Valdés
The Geographer
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps”

Firstly what Mr Valdés chooses to ignore is the fact that Tibet itself is not comprised of China’s propaganda creation (the so-called ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’) but is far larger made up of three traditional regions namely U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo. Secondly we should remind him that Tibet and its people are not ‘administered’ by China but are in fact occupied, exploited and colonized by a violent and oppressive regime. To assert that Tibet is under the administrative control of China’s regime is a grossly misleading and fact-free statement, rather like claiming that during the early 1940s France was ‘administered’ by Hitler’s Germany. Rightfully at that time cartographers did not make such claims, yet the National Geographic is content to misrepresent Tibet while endorsing China’s illegal occupation of that blighted land.

Furthermore, in his evasive and flawed reply Juan José Valdés  avoids a truth when he claims that ‘some’ regard China’s occupation of Tibet as illegal, what his organization fails to recognize or declare is that  within international law Tibet is an independent nation under illegal occupation.This was examined and agreed at an international conference of leading lawyers in 1993


It is surely time to put Tibet back on the world map, minus China’s poisonous distortions, if you agree please help us by emailing National Geographic and asking them to restore Tibet and authentic Tibetan place names on its maps and atlases. They may be contacted here:

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