Taiwan is now in talks with Google to blur images of its most sensitive military sites that were accidentally revealed to the public through its latest 3D-rendered maps.
The satellite images on Google’s new 3D maps were so detailed they exposed the location and structures of Taiwan’s classified Patriot missile defence base in the Xindian District, New Tapei – down to the types of launchers and models of the missiles.
Defence infrastructure at the National Security Bureau and the Military Intelligence Bureau were also revealed in detail, according to Taiwanese media.
According to Central News Agency the structures were disclosed after Google launched the new 3D function on Wednesday to feature three-dimensional terrain for four major cities in Taiwan: Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, and Taichung.
The country’s Defence Minister, Yen Teh-fa said a taskforce had been set up to work with Google and seek adjustments to safeguard national security and to protect the secret locations from being targeted by Beijing in the event of a cross-strait conflict.
Assuring the public that the exposure will not affect Taiwan’s military operations, Yen said: “Actually, the site of defence infrastructure at times of peace will not be the same as those at times of war.”
The Patriot missile is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system and highly mobile. It is primarily used by the United States’ and several of its allies.
This is not the first time Taiwan has asked Google to make alterations to their maps.
In 2016, the country had to ask Google to blur out part of Taiping Island, or Itu Aba in the South China Sea that showed four new military structures on the western coastline.
China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, even though the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.
Beijing has said it will not hesitate to use force if Taipei formally declares independence, or in the case of external intervention – including by the United States, Taiwan’s strongest ally.