OpenStreetMap, the participatory project to compile a world map, points out that „private surveying and mapping activities are illegal in China.”  Just because something is illegal does not mean it is impossible. Chinese state media published a series of press articles about illegal mapping efforts as a threat to national security. The article also mentions previously announced news that any foreigner who collects geographic data without permission will be „severely punished.” Much of the scientific work in geography has been influenced by critical research on GIS and cartography, a series of papers that examine how spatial data and knowledge are generated, represented and shared by different groups in different contexts (Schuurman, 2000, Chrisman, 2005, Sheppard, 2005, Elwood et al., 2012). Although the interdependent relationships between society and spatial data technologies have been widely recognized and studied, political-economic relationships on IGV are still rare (Thatcher et al., 2016). While we agree with Sunder Rajan`s (2006) remark above regarding the importance of questioning different forms of capitalism in relation to technoscientific developments, it is important to provide more local analyses of IGV from a political-economic perspective. In addition, there is a lack of research on VGI`s legal perspective. As highlighted in a quote from Jasanoff (2004) above that laws are closely related to society`s investment in science and technology, it is important to conduct more research on VGI`s legal perspective, which helps us better understand the perspective of political economy as they constitute each other. I try to address these two questions using a case of OSM in China. There are lesser laws that govern the content of cards in China. In the context of OSM, this makes the project a bit more illegal. Therefore, this document has two main objectives. First, based on critical GIS research, it seeks to provide a „thick, multiple and local” analysis (Sunder Rajan, 2006, p. 31) of VGI constructions in a given geographical context, documenting the extremely increasing interactions and engagement with online mapping and location-based devices across the intersection of political-economic processes and individual experiences.
Existing studies tend to focus on one of the two aspects mentioned above. To this end, this contribution makes an empirical contribution to the VGI literature through an analysis in China. Second, it draws attention to the legality of VGI constructions, which can take different forms at different times and places. Some studies have examined a legal perspective in critical research on GIS and cartography. Further studies are needed on how people come into contact with legal institutions and instruments. Based on the results of legal and social studies, this article integrates the aspect of legality into the study of VGI constructions and uses, taking into account a „contested terrain” (Vincent, 1994) associated with resistance and negotiations on asymmetric power relations. To this end, this study theoretically contributes to existing VGI research. Below is Section 2 for a literature review of the article, followed by Section 3 for the methods used in this study. Section 4 shows the most important developments in the online mapping industry and political discourse in China. Particular attention will be paid to how these developments could shape OSM and VGI constructs and how Internet mapping and VGI could influence how the state sees its role in the production of spatial data and how private sector actors might try to engage with VGI and navigate a changing market. Section 5 deals with the experiences of OSM contributors, illustrates their main motivations and negotiations on the production of spatial knowledge through OSM and the moments of encounter related to legality issues.
This section describes how OSM constructions manifest themselves in contested terrain, not only in relation to struggles for the representation of certain spatial knowledge through collective but individualized mapping by non-experts, but also in terms of nuanced resistance to dominant state discourses and control of mapping in China. Section 6 concludes the paper and calls for more research on documenting dynamic VGI constructs, arguing that greater attention to political-economic processes and the laws of spatial knowledge production can provide a more complete picture of VGI constructs. In accordance with Articles 7, 26, 40 and 42 of the Surveying and Cartography Law of the People`s Republic of China, private surveying and mapping activities have been illegal in mainland China since 2002. The law prohibits Between 2006 and 2011, authorities prosecuted about 40 illegal cases of mapping and surveying.  The media has reported other cases of illegal investigations: OSM, founded in 2004 by Steve Coast in the UK, is an excellent example of VGI with millions of registered users worldwide. However, OSM is considered illegal in China. Despite its legal status, OSM is increasingly attracting the attention of a variety of individuals and groups in China. This is part of the government`s recently announced focus on developing the geoinformation industry. However, we know little about how OSM mapping practices took place in China and what processes facilitated or limited these mappings. And what could be the implications and effects of these OSM constructions? This article attempts to answer these questions by telling „a cartographic history”, in line with Pickles` (2004) call for several cartographic histories to emphasize a poststructuralist point on maps, arguing that maps are multivoic and that our accounts of the spaces that maps represent and construct must also be multivocal. Meanwhile, this article is also influenced by the framework of Kitchin and Dodge (2007), which considers cards as always in creation and as embodied practices.
According to the Surveying and Cartography Law of the People`s Republic of China, private surveying and mapping activities without a certificate are illegal in mainland China. „Since at least 2007, it has been virtually illegal for foreigners to use a GPS device in China.  China`s GPS offset problem (or offset) is a class of problems arising from the difference between GCJ-02 and WGS-84 data. Global positioning system coordinates are expressed using WGS-84 and when displayed on road maps of China that follow GCJ-02 coordinates, they appear in significant (often more than 500 meters) and variable amounts. Authorized providers of location-based services and digital maps (such as AutoNavi or NavInfo) must purchase an „offset correction” algorithm that correctly displays GPS positions on the map.  Satellite imagery and user-provided road map datasets, such as those from OpenStreetMap, are also displayed correctly because they have been collected with GPS devices (although technically illegal – see legislation). For reasons of national security, the use of geographic information in China is limited to facilities that receive special permission from the Administrative Department of Survey and Cartography of the State Council. GCJ-02 (Chinese: 地形图非线性保密处理算法; lit. The contributor said they think many people can`t easily accept a version of the world that`s different from the one they`ve seen as truth.
This could very well be the case with NM$L, which told the rest of the world in a direct message: „Almost all Chinese know that protecting territorial integrity is our duty.” The user stated that he respected the facts on OpenStreetMap and was only trying to „reflect the fact that I know in a disputed area”. Anyone can contribute to OSM, which makes the site democratic and open, but also makes it vulnerable to the politics and perspectives of its individual contributors. This wasn`t the first time Doiron had heard of a user making changes in favor of a particular country. „I know there are pro-Indian accounts that have added things like military checkpoints from the Indian perspective,” he said. Latest images available, very useful for newly developed areas.