Island disputes have been a rumbling problem for China in the past few years. The latest tiff with Japan, and ongoing disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam have involved world powers like the USA and India. So it’s no surprise that the issue has made its foray into video games.
Last week, Ho Chi Minh city’s Department of Information and Communications asked VNG Corporation, one of Vietnam’s largest technology companies whose empire was built on video games, shut down a game it just released because the game’s map displayed the Paracel Islands – land claimed by the two neighboring countries. In the now-banned game, the islands in the East Sea appeared to be under Chinese sovereignty.
The multiplayer online RPG game, Chinh Do 2.0 (ZT Online 2, in English), made by China’s Giant Interactive (NYSE:GA), has been distributed by VNG since 2008. Over the years, the game was updated many times – but the latest update on December 16th revealed an update that irked many users, which eventually lead to the game being taken down. VNG has since discontinued the game and cut ties with Giant Interactive. The website that once hosted Chinh Do 2.0 now has an announcement from VNG about the discontinuation and a statement that VNG, as a Vietnamese company, will faithfully uphold Vietnamese sovereignty.
Vietnamese players have since urged Vietnamese companies to re-check games they distribute from China. With Vietnamese users becoming more wary of China, will this spill over to distrust of other major Chinese web companies entering Vietnam, such as search engine Baidu, e-tailer, Vancl, or the WeChat messaging app?
Vietnamese users, although quite nationalistic about the disputed islands, are still great appreciators of Chinese culture. Every year Vietnamese children sit transfixed in front of their televisions watching Journey to the West and numerous Chinese games remain popular.
[Source: Saigon GP Daily]