Online maps prepared by several Chinese companies have omitted the name Israel from the land of historic Palestine, says a report released by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on October 30, 2023.

The report noted that internet users in China have expressed bewilderment that the name “Israel” doesn’t appear on online digital maps from leading Chinese websites such as the country’s dominant search engine Baidu and trading platform Alibaba.  This, it is said, represents “an ambiguity that matches Beijing’s vague diplomacy in the region and contrasts with its attentiveness to maps generally.”

WSJ notes that Baidu’s Chinese language online maps demarcate the internationally recognized borders of Israel, as well as the Palestinian territories, plus key cities, but don’t clearly identify the country by name.  The same is true with online maps produced by Alibaba’s Amap, where even small nations like Luxembourg are clearly marked, according to WSJ.  

“Neither company responded to questions on Monday. It is unclear whether the development is new, though it has been discussed by Chinese internet users since war broke out,” WSJ added.  

Meanwhile, China has reportedly denied erasing Israel from the mapping services offered by tech companies Baidu and Alibaba.

“You should know that China and Israel have normal diplomatic relations.  Regarding the relevant issues you mentioned, the relevant countries are clearly marked on the standard map issued by the Chinese competent authorities, which you can check,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a press briefing on October 31, according to Newsweek

The standard map is China's official map released by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Newsweek reportedly looked at archived images from Baidu and Amaps (Alibaba maps) showing the Middle East, and found that they stopped showing Israel or Gaza on their services before the conflict began in October.

A separate investigation by Zichen Wang, a research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, and Jia Yuxuan, a research associate at the center, wrote on Pekingnology, a newsletter about China, that archived webpages of articles from the Chinese website Zhihu show that Israel hasn't appeared on Baidu or Alibaba maps since May 2021.