Diaoyu Island Assault: PLA-Designed Video Game Simulates Sino-Japanese Conflict
Image Credit: J. T. Quigley

Diaoyu Island Assault: PLA-Designed Video Game Simulates Sino-Japanese Conflict


A Chinese video game, designed in part by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and originally intended as a training tool for soldiers, allows gamers to engage in all-out war against foreign enemies. An early version of Glorious Mission generated a fair share of controversy when it appeared to pit virtual soldiers against the U.S. military.

Today, a more recent version of the Call of Duty clone received an update, containing a new mission – a siege of the contested Diaoyu Islands – a move that embodies China’s shifting of aggression from America to its Asian neighbor and past colonizer, Japan.

Disputed islands between China and Japan have become the centerpiece of diplomatic tension in Asia. Called the Diaoyu Islands by China and the Senkaku Islands by Japan, bitter territorial disputes over ownership of the rocky outcroppings have sparked mass protests in both countries. Chinese nationalists went as far as burning and looting Japanese-owned businesses in China last year, following a Japanese government announcement that it would purchase and nationalize the uninhabited islets.

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Glorious Mission Online’s latest downloadable content (DLC) gives Chinese gamers a chance to virtually evict Japanese “invaders” by force – aided by China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier and an arsenal of military weaponry.

“Players entering the game will fight alongside Chinese armed forces and use their weapons to tell the Japanese that ‘Japan must return our stolen territory!’” read a press release on the game’s website, according to the South China Morning Post.

A video trailer for the new DLC was posted to YouTube with English captions that read, “Daiyou Island is inherent territory of the Chinese nation,” as images of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe flash across the screen. A montage of fighter jets, marching soldiers, and battleships follow.

Then, a picture of the disputed island chain appears. “Response to defend the motherland” is displayed on the next screen as the background music intensifies. Suddenly, a CG version of the Liaoning carrier bursts into the frame.

Toward the end of the trailer, machine gun-wielding PLA soldiers burst into a Japanese encampment with bullets flying. A small rising sun banner pops up on-screen for each virtual Japanese soldier that is neutralized. In classic Call of Duty fashion, an approaching attack helicopter is blown away by a lucky bazooka shot.

While the Diaoyu/Senkaku mission may be in bad taste, it is far from being the first videogame to pit old enemies against each other in a modern day conflict. Games in the Call of Duty franchise have envisioned WWIII, specifically Russian-led nuclear attacks and a Russian ground offensive on U.S. soil.

Is it wrong for the Chinese to have their own version?

“I’ll definitely play [the new update] when it comes out,” said one Weibo user. “Of course [Glorious Mission Online] is not as good as the Call of Duty series … But then again, this is the only military game sponsored by my own country … So I should support it.”

Game trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdpSgEn73ms

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