The map as shown by CGTN

New Delhi: China’s state-run CGTN Television excluded Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from Pakistan’s map for the first time ever while it reported on last Friday’s terror attack on its consulate in Karachi.

As it is highly unlikely that a state-run television would ever defy Beijing, sources said that it was a move by China to signal to Pakistan its strong displeasure to Pakistan for its failure to protect its citizens.

It is not known if this was a deliberate move by China, but according to the Times of India, the CGTN uses fixed templates for maps and production staff are not allowed to tinker with them. So the decision to use a different map to report on the consulate attack must have come from higher authorities.

Beijing often uses state-run media as test balloons to consider reactions before considering policy changes in the domestic and international spheres, and excluding PoK from Pakistan was another such move to gauge Pakistani response. Islamabad has not yet reacted to the broadcast.

The timing of the move also assumes significance as it comes just two weeks ahead of the joint drill to be conducted by India and China’s militaries on December 10. Observers, however, warned that this one-off deviation from the norm should not be seen as a change in China’s official policy, the TOI said.

Excluding PoK from Pakistan on the map could also have implications for the China-Pakistan Economic-Corridor (CPEC), against which New Delhi has often voiced strong reservations as it passes through PoK and violates India’s sovereignty.

The CPEC is the most important connectivity link under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China had invested heavily in infrastructure projects in PoK.

Officially released maps in China have never before shown PoK as part of India. Maps are a sensitive issue in China and hence books or magazines showing maps that differ from Beijing’s official view are often blocked.