Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache.
However, in China there are complications…
Foreigners using GPS devices on the mainland risk being detained by police or national security agents if they suspect them of conducting illegal mapping.
“It’s better for [your] safety not to turn on the GPS function [on your cellphone],” a State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping official said.
The bureau announced 10 days ago that it was launching a year-long crackdown this month on illegal surveying, with foreigners among its prime targets. Six ministries are involved in the campaign.
Its announcement cites the detention in December 2007 of a foreigner in a village near Luoyang in Henanprovince. State security agents found a number of locations marked on his hand-held Global Positioning System device and used that as evidence for his arrest, the bureau said, without elaborating.
He is not the only foreigner to have been detained for surveying and mapping on the mainland without approval. At least six Japanese visitors were reportedly arrested in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region between 2005 and 2007.
Bureau deputy director Song Chaozhi told China News Service earlier that the bureau would intensify its watch on non-Chinese people using GPS devices for mapping and surveying purposes. “[Such behaviour] severely threatens China’s national security,” Mr Song was quoted as saying.
An anonymous article, possibly inspired by the crackdown and entitled “How to Catch a Foreign Spy Mapping Chinese Terrain”, is circulating in mainland internet chat rooms, urging people to watch out for foreigners using GPS devices.
- South China Morning Post
So you see in China, the hard part isn’t just finding the cache, it’s also delivering it in the first place and getting the GPS coordinates. Here at MyLaowai, we feel it’s our job to help. This page is dedicated to Chinese geocaches of high tactical or strategic value. Feel free to add more yourself, by contacting:
Flight Lieutenant MyLaowai DSO DFC, MyLaowaiATgmailDOTcom