China's new passports, which depict several disputed territories as being under the country's control, are the latest example of maps being used as a political tool. Alexander Murphy, a former AAG president, recalls how a map he was using became an issue when he gave a talk in China near the disputed Aksai Chin area of Kashmir. "I had a map that was based on a study done in India ... but I was asked to cover up the border so that it wouldn't be a source of agitation for the audience," he said. In some countries, maps can offer an unreliable picture of reality. "They obscure how much control the government actually has," author Robert Kaplan said.

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