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Chinese Video Game Lets Players Seize Japan-Controlled Islands

A simulated version of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, leads a virtual assault on the main island of a disputed East China Sea archipelago controlled by Japan, in this video game by China’s Giant Interactive Group, released on Thursday.
A Chinese online game developer has released a military-backed video game that allows players to fight alongside Chinese troops in seizing disputed Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

The Glorious Mission Online game series is the first to be developed jointly by a Chinese company and the People's Liberation Army. Its release date coincides with the 86th anniversary of the PLA's founding.

Shanghai-based game developer Giant Interactive Group said the new scenario's goal is to stage a virtual Chinese military assault on the disputed islands to send a message to Japan not to violate Chinese sovereignty. The uninhabited archipelago is called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

In a trailer for the game, a simulated version of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, leads a naval bombardment as Chinese troops storm the main island and try to seize fictitious Japanese military posts.

Giant Interactive said it wants to give online gamers the chance to play a first-person shooter game in which Chinese troops are on the good side, in contrast with popular Western games such as Call of Duty, in which American forces are the heroes.

Last month, the Chinese military said it is using the game to train officers of the Nanjing Military Area Command, which covers the country's eastern coastal provinces. It said the release of the online edition is aimed at "encouraging aspiring young people to join the army."

The dispute over sovereignty of the islands has escalated in the past year, straining relations between former wartime enemies Japan and China, the region's two biggest economies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday his government is willing to shelve territorial disputes and carry out joint development in disputed waters, without mentioning any maritime area by name. But, he also insisted that China will not cede its claims of sovereignty.

China increasingly has sent vessels and aircraft to patrol areas near the East China Sea islands in recent months, while Japan has stepped up its own patrols.

Tokyo has administered the islands since 1895, except for a 27-year period after World War Two, when the U.S. military occupied them. China began pressing its claim of sovereignty in 1971, two years after a U.N. body said the archipelago's waters may contain large oil reserves.