Completing the story of the mysterious map of China.
Joseph Eros, friend of this blog and occasional houseguest, is now a law student at a large state university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This gives him access to libraries! So, Joe did some research. All on his own time, bless him, because he cares.
So is the map real or not?
Yes. The book exists, and the map is in it. It's a textbook history of modern China, published in Beijing c. 1953. The map is just as the Indians depicted it (except for the numbers, which they added). They seem to have obtained it via an Indian student in Peking.
Here's the bibliographic information (no Chinese characters):
Title: Zhongguo jin dai jian shi.
Author: Liu, Peihua.
Published: [n.p.] 1953.
Description: 10, 253, 16 p. maps (7 fold.) 19 cm.
Call Number: DS 757.L81 C94
So, what's the significance?
Well... on one hand, not much. Even on its face, the map doesn't advance PRC claims; it just shows (inaccurately) what Manchu China is supposed to have controlled in 1840. Xinhua disowned the map; they were lying, of course, but it's still indicative.
It does suggest that the Chinese Communist Party went through a certain period of wildness in its youth. But at the time the map was published, the CCP had only been in power a few years; China had just come out of a brutal civil war, and was still fighting a war with "imperialists" in Korea. Some goofy-ass stuff gets published in wartime, even in liberal democracies.
It seems to have been a brief and passing phase. China has been pretty modest in its territorial claims for a while now; at the moment, they have only two outstanding border disputes (with India in the Himalayas and the one around the Spratly Islands).
On the other hand, the map seems to be out there. I've had three people mention it online in the last couple of years. I'm still not sure if they're talking about this map or about a later, Soviet version adapted from it. But one or more versions is definitely in circulation in Russia, where it's taken as evidence of the Yellow Peril.
And that's all.