New Chinese military game on disputed islands goes viral
A military-backed Chinese video game featuring commando style attack to capture islands disputed with Japan today went viral whipping up patriotism, even as President Xi Jinping sought to calm down tension over the islets suggesting to "shelve disputes".
The first online military game of its kind, 'Mission of Honour', marks the 86th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the world's largest military force with a strength of approximately 2,250,000 personnel.
The army has developed the online game featuring an aircraft carrier and its role in capturing the disputed islands called Diaoyu by China and Senkakus by Japan.
The game involves a soldier named Qiangjun who boards China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning with his comrades and fights invaders in military bases on the islands, which is currently controlled by Japan, the official media reported.
"Players... will fight alongside Chinese armed forces and use weapons to tell the Japanese that 'Japan must return our stolen territory!'" an press release for the game said.
Images from the game's website are labelled "Guard the Diaoyu islands", and a trailer posted online features shots of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzho Abe, whom Chinese official media portrays negatively.
Sino-Japan ties nose dived since middle of last year after Japan bought the islands from a private Japanese party amid strong objections from China, which termed it as a nationalisation of the disputed territory.
Since then the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) encouraged a mass campaign of protests arousing nationalist sentiments against Japan.
The Chinese military too pursed an aggressive strategy pressing for the first time its surveillance ships into the disputed waters challenging Japanese control over the islets and surrounding waters believed to be rich with natural gas and mineral deposits.
The game was released ahead of a surprise comments by Xi at a high level meeting of the CPC that "the country will adhere to the policy of "shelving disputes and carrying out joint development" for areas over which China owns sovereign rights, while also promoting mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation and seeking and expanding common converging interests with other countries.
His remarks marks a significant departure from a very aggressive policy pursued by China in the last two years in asserting its claims over the South China Sea, besides maritime disputes with Japan over the islands jointly claimed by both countries.
The game also includes missions involving earthquake-relief, said Gu Kai, the online game's producer.
Updated from its video version that was produced in 2011, the online game is on trial among officers and soldiers in Lanzhou, Shenyang and Chengdu military area command units.
The production team also plans to work with filmmakers to turn the game into a movie, Gu was quoted by state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.