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16 Feb, 2019 01:03

Oops: Google Maps reveals Patriot missile launch sites in Taiwan

Oops: Google Maps reveals Patriot missile launch sites in Taiwan

The Taiwanese government is doing damage control after the latest Google Maps upgrade revealed their most sensitive missile sites, down to the launcher types and models of the missiles, for all to see – including archenemy China.

Defense Ministry officials in Taipei are asking Google to blur the missile site locations, which were exposed in painstaking 3D detail in the latest upgrade of Google’s satellite map app, for the sake of national security – while urging the public to remain calm.

The site of a military base does not equally mean its fixed position during wartime,” Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa cautioned during a press conference on Friday. An anonymous defense official claimed the images are probably outdated anyway, since the military moves its facilities frequently “to conceal them and deceive the enemy,” according to Focus Taiwan. 

They also claimedthe confidential parts are all inside the structures, which would be highly difficult to expose through the 3D maps.” 

But Yen also said a “task force” had been formed to work with Google to strengthen Taiwanese military camouflage in the future in order to maintain secrecy, admitting that “there is a need to further review” the Fort Law, which criminalizes revealing the location of certain military structures.

The upgraded maps expose a previously-secret missile base in Xindian, equipped with US-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles, as well as the location of the country’s National Security Bureau and Military Intelligence Bureau. They also depict Taiwanese missile launchers and ordnance in such detail that a keen observer can pick out the types and models of the weapons. Taiwanese authorities are still trying to determine whether the exposure runs afoul of the Fort Act.

The new maps were released to the public on Wednesday and include high-resolution 3D renderings of Taiwan’s four major cities, Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, and Taichung.

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While the indecent exposure is reportedly accidental, Taiwan has had this problem with Google before, approaching the search giant in 2016 to ask them to censor map renderings of its military installations on Taiping Island in the South China Sea.

Taiwan is run by the descendants of Chinese nationalists who fled the mainland with US help after the Communist revolution in 1949. Beijing considers the island a rebellious province that must eventually be reintegrated – by force if necessary.

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