National Geographic Criticized for Chinese Names of Tibetan Places

A few months back, Tibettruth, a website advocating Tibetan independence, blasted National Geographic for changing to Chinese names of Tibetan places and accused them of violating their own policy of being apolitical. “Such an action, taken we must imagine with the knowledge and possible encouragement and cooperation of China’s regime, surely constitutes a political action on the part of National Geographic?”

Now this one’s tricky. Assuming that National Geographic is colluding with the (wicked) Chinese government is a bit of a stretch: as we’ve seen from other naming disputes, mapmakers are routinely accused of distortion, bias and support for the other side unless they take their side. Supra-national mapmakers like National Geographic and Google simply can’t win these kinds of argument: they’re going to piss someone off no matter what. Thanks to Andy Proehl for the link.