Back in March of 2017, this strange note first appeared at the end of a paper in the journal Nature: "Publisher's note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations." I looked over the paper, and it didn't have any maps in it. None of the authors had unusual affiliations, just the normal university departments. Why the disclaimer? Before answering this question, let's dig a bit deeper. This notice first started appearing in mid-March of 2017, when it was attached to every single research paper in that issue. I cannot find any papers prior to that with the "Publisher's note." Ever since then, Nature has put this notice on every paper in all of their journals. For example, the current issue has a paper on mapping sound on the planet Mars, by an international team of astronomers and physicists. It does contain maps, but they don't describe any features on Earth. Nonetheless, it has the disclaimer at the end about "jurisdictional claims in published maps."Speculation is that this might be driven by dispute between China and Taiwan, or maybe some indigenous claims. No one is talking.
There are lots of other border disputes, such as Israel and Ukraine. But isn't it obvious that a science journal does not have the political authority to set national boundaries?
Soon we may get more disclaimers. Maybe: This journal is neutral with regard to the pronoun preferences of deceased scientists, and whether research tainted by systemic racism should be cited.