Shipping Map Misrepresented Causes Chaos

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In a map that went viral on Twitter in connection with the lockdown, hundreds of icons representing ships seem to be clustered around ports on the Chinese coast. It accumulated more than 21,000 retweets in 10 days. Instead of only showing “ships waiting to dock” because of supply chain delays, the map shows every vessel in the vicinity of Chinese ports, reports USA Today.

Ships waiting to dock along Chinese coast

In Shanghai and other Chinese port cities, restrictive measures taken by Communist Party officials in service of the country’s strict COVID-19 policy have shut down some factories and created significant supply chain delays for a range of consumer goods.

In a map that went viral on Twitter in connection with the lockdown, hundreds of icons representing ships seem to be clustered around ports on the Chinese coast. It accumulated more than 21,000 retweets in 10 days.

“Ships waiting to dock because of China’s insane COVID strategy,” tech entrepreneur Aaron Ginn captioned the photo. “This is intentional.”

The claim about the map spread widely to other platforms, appearing in numerous Facebook posts as well as on Reddit and Substack.

But it’s not accurate, according to experts who spoke with USA TODAY. The image shows every ship – including those underway rather than stationary.

Most ships in photo are not ‘waiting to dock’

Shipping delays have increased significantly since lockdowns began in Shanghai and other large Chinese cities in early March, as CNN reports, but the map doesn’t tell us much about them.

A visual comparison shows that the photo in the viral posts is a screenshot taken from MarineTraffic.com, a website that tracks and aggregates data from the Automatic Identification System transponders that large ships are required to have on board. USA TODAY reported on a similar misrepresentation of the map in 2021.

Instead of only showing “ships waiting to dock” because of supply chain delays, the map shows every vessel in the vicinity of Chinese ports, MarineTraffic spokesperson Georgios Hatzimanolis said.

“Most of the vessels pictured are not waiting to dock,” he wrote in an email to USA TODAY. “Many of them are fishing vessels and other types of vessels that are not waiting to dock.”

Hatzimanolis also said the map doesn’t show an irregular or extreme traffic buildup.

“China is the world’s largest exporter and one of the world’s largest importers, so traffic in the region is always busy,” he wrote. “We are not witnessing a worsening of the situation at the moment.”

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Source: USA Today

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