In fact, the very concept of cartographic aggression is mostly associated with China and the tactic is unique to it. It would be prudent here to recall that "China" is unlike other nation-states, it is an ancient civilization but a modern state which gives indications of not having settled issues of its territorial sovereignty. Of course unlike other modern states such as monolithic European nation-states and multi-ethnic states like India which were pretty much carved out in modern maps by Western colonialists, China's transition to modern nation-state was never smooth or complete. Even in post World War II, there existed two Chinas for international community- mainland China known as People's Republic of China and Taiwan based Republic of China. Thus when Mao Zedong's Communist Party of China captured the entire mainland in 1949, the exact territorial limits of Chinese empires of the past was unclear but instead of treating this as a disadvantage, PRC used it to fire nationalistic sentiment of Chinese people to rally behind the party.
|Map of humiliation (1927) outlining "old national boundary"|
Perhaps, it is for this reason that Sino-Indian border doesn't have a Line of Control but a pair of Lines of Actual Control since China is unwilling to indicate what it considers its LAC to be. Nehru may have been complacent and made strategic blunders during the events leading to Sino-Indian War of 1962 but it remains a fact that as late as 1959 the then Chinese Premier had claimed that the official map given to India were interim maps since their regime had not consolidated itself in China. Yet, two years later the PLA invaded India-held territories claiming them to be theirs. And it is just not India, China has fought border wars with Russia in 1969 ,Vietnam in 1979 and perpetual stabd-off with Taiwan. Chinese cartographic aggression begins with revised official maps suddenly including new territories which it claims as its own but doesn't attempt engage the other party. Instead it lets the new vision be absorbed by its national consciousness. The second step involves small scale incursions by it troops (or fighter planes) and after much probing tactics efforts are made to establish military checkposts. In some instances, the third step is not actually carried out, instead the threats are used to bring out desired behaviour of reluctant neighbour(s).
PM Modi has been a great critic of Nehru's China policy. Nehru's fault lay in his belief that China and India were destined to togather lead a resurgent Asia and in the path to economic development through partnership, territorial dispute would take backseat. We now know this resulted in the unfortunate war between the two countries. Ironically, Modi seems to be following the same policy even if he is in a far better bargaining position than Nehru was in. China's new map also claims 80% of South China Sea as Chinese internal water which poses a significant potential risk to global trade (though currently there seems to be no threat) China's new maritime boundaries undermines sovereignty of its South-Eastern neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Philippines. Just three years back, China forcibly occupied Philippines' Scarborough Shoal, even Philippines' key ally, the USA was reluctant to act. The Vietnamese, on other and have been very vocal in their protests against China's territorial ambition in the South China Sea.
With nearly every neighbour of China being critical of its cartographic aggression , it is perplexing why the Prime Minister who claims to have raised India's self-esteem,simply ignored the misrepresentation of the Indian map It sounds naive to hope to settle border dispute when the other side lays claim over an entire province and a third of another and even excludes PoK in contravention to international norms. Any objection raised by him would have hardly affected any economic deal being worked out. With majority of nations, especially, its neighbours and members of international community raising objections over the same map, India laying low hardly makes it a global player. A great deal of foreign policy and diplomacy does consists of symbolism but these symbolic acts manifest in the interaction between the representatives of the nation states involved and not the engagement of the visiting leader and the diaspora. For a country which has learnt a painful lesson in the past because of China's cartographic aggression, ignoring this latest attempt may prove costly.
P.S. To really understand the the uniqueness of Chinese cryptography and role of maps in the shaping of modern Chinese nationalism please do read WA Callaghan's The Cartography of National. Humiliation and the Emergence of China's Geobody