In the latest passive-aggressive escalation of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island dispute, a Chinese computer game originally designed to train soldiers has added a level that lets players “reclaim and defend” the vacant but heavily disputed islands between China and Japan.
“Glorious Mission Online,” China’s Call of Duty equivalent, already involved the standard faux-military missions common in such games. But the updated online version, as first reported by the South China Morning Post, will also have players simulating a battle against Japanese soldiers on the islands and using the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier. It’s particularly provocative given that the People’s Liberation Army helped develop the game.
The Diaoyu Islands -- called the Senkaku Islands in Japan -- are a constant and increasingly heated source of conflict for the two countries. While Japan has controlled the islands for nearly 40 years, China insists it's owned them since antiquity. Japan further exacerbated debate when it bought the islands from a private landowner and nationalized them last September.
Since then, both countries have fired a series of symbolic volleys. China has pulled Japanese books from store shelves and boycotted Japanese goods. A Japanese toymaker recently infuriated Chinese social media users by releasing a model boat bearing the words “Operation Senkaku;” the model’s box also appears to show the Liaoning sinking as victorious Japanese fighter jets fly overhead.
While model boats and Glorious Mission may be fun and games, the Diaoyu/Senkaku conflict is not. Four Chinese coast guard ships appeared near the islands on Wednesday and Japan deployed fighter jets after a Chinese plane veered too close to Japanese airspace. Japan has even floated the idea of using drones to keep an eye on Chinese activity in the region.
You can watch a trailer for the game below.