Why a Call of Duty game is back in the line of fire for China’s censors

Internet cafes ordered to stop customers playing anything deemed ‘hostile’ to China, with US shooter singled out for special criticism

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2018, 5:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2018, 5:27pm

An American video game that allows players to bomb Tiananmen Square has become the focal point of the latest Chinese crackdown on “harmful” material, according to a news website report.

Although Call of Duty Black Ops II was first released in 2012, officials in the eastern province of Jiangxi singled it out in a recent crackdown that ordered internet cafes to stop their customers playing banned games.

A short sequence in the game’s alternative reality, in which a character recalls a fictional Second World War bombing raid in the heart of the Chinese capital, appears to have particularly angered the censors.

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A long list of games were banned for being “harmful and deviating from socialist core values, traditional Chinese culture and moral norms”, provincial news portal jxnews.com.cn reported on Wednesday.

Another game that fell foul of the censors was a locally produced one, Red Alert 2: Glory of the Republic, which allows players to fight against the People’s Liberation Army.

Provincial authorities from the culture ministry visited 39 internet cafes in the province in the last week of March to make sure they were not offering banned games, the report added.

“These kind of games include hostile messages to our country, and must be completely banned,” the officials were quoted saying.

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Over 5,000 internet cafes in the province have now installed a government surveillance system on their computers. Officials will be notified if users have been playing banned games in the cafes.

A message that warns users to install the surveillance system will appear on the computer screen from time to time if the internet cafes have not been updating or installing the system, according to the local officials.

“This is so annoying, there is a message that is always popping up,” one video game player in a Jiangxi internet cafe told the website.