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12:11 PM, September 22, 2016
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Google Reviewing Taiwan's Request To Blur Images Of Military Facilities in Disputed Island
Four giant tetrapod-shaped structures on the north-western shoreline of the island Itu Aba (Image: Google Maps)

Google is carrying out review on Taiwan’s request to blur imagery of unidentified Taiping Island military structures viewable on its Earth and Maps services.

Four giant tetrapod-shaped structures on the north-western shoreline of the island Itu Aba controlled by Taiwan and also claimed by several other countries was visible on Google Maps satellite photo, Local media reported Wednesday.

CGA Minister Lee Chung-wei said in a legislative session Tuesday that the function of the structures was classified military information and could not be disclosed.

The administration had already contacted Google and requested that the imagery be blurred, Lee said.

Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan was quoted as saying by Taipeipost that the bar on information extended to all military structures and facilities on Taiping Island, the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

"It is inconvenient for us to reveal any military facilities we are installing on Taiping Island and what their purposes are, as they are all considered secret," Feng told reporters after the legislative session.

The Google imagery of the tetrapod structures can still be seen as of today.

Asked by Kuomintang Legislator Alicia Wang whether the Taiping sighting was the only breach of classified military information by Google Earth, Feng said the Defense Ministry would investigate the matter and, if necessary, report any additional breaches to Google.

Imagery that reveals major infrastructure or engineering projects are frequently blurred by Google Earth at the request of governments worldwide, and Taiwan should do likewise, Wang said during the legislative session.

Premier Lin Chuan stressed too that the Defense Ministry ought to see to it as quickly as possible if there were other military facilities inappropriately exposed. CGA has finished the checking, according to Lee.

The objects, about three to four stories high, appear to surround a circular structure on the shore. They were not present in Google Earth's previous satellite imagery taken in last January last year.

Reportedly still under construction, the structures sparked speculation that they are anti-aircraft towers. Kuomintang Legislator Johnny Chiang said the structures were already there when he last visited Taiping in late July. Chiang led a group of legislators to visit Taiping in what they said was an effort to uphold Taiwan's sovereignty claim over the island and to protest a Hague ruling that classified Taiping as a rock rather than an island.

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