For several years, I have tried to find out why American published sources now have the U.S. larger than China in area, a change I noticed several years ago. Previously China was always listed as larger, as it is on my 1993 National Geographic The World: Political wall map, showing China 87,000 sq. mi. larger than the U.S. Recently, according to my National Geographic Atlas of the World, 8th ed. (2007), China is listed at 9,596,960 sq. km. and the U.S.--larger--at 9,826,630 sq. km. (notice different units of measurement) (thus neither country is as large as Europe, at 9,938,000 sq. km.)
Not wanting to start an international incident, and not knowing the criteria for calculating area, but there must have been some change in calculating area sometime between 1993 and approximately 2003. The difference between the two calculations is large: the 2007 figures above show the U.S. some 230,000 sq. km. larger than China. The difference cannot be Taiwan, as it has only 36,000 sq. km. And the border disputes that China has with India would not, I assume, be enough to make up the difference. Also, if onshore area plus EEZ-plus-territorial waters figures are included (see the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclusive_economic_zone#Rankings_by_area ), the U.S. becomes the second-largest territory in the world, much larger than China. So, that cannot be the answer, either.
Does anyone know anything about this?