Some Chinese are concerned that the summer’s hottest fad, augmented reality video game Pokemon Go, is a threat to the Chinese military.
In an interview with the Global Times, an anonymous Chinese expert in artificial intelligence said that a Pokemon Go player located in the vicinity of “sensitive facilities” could inadvertently reveal its location by uploading images from the game to the Internet.
Meanwhile, some Chinese netizens believe in a conspiracy theory that the video game is simply a ruse by the US and Japan to expose Chinese military bases, Reuters reported.
“Don’t play Pokemon GO!!!” wrote user Pitaorenzhe on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. “It’s so the US and Japan can explore China’s secret bases!”
As netizens explain, the ruse involves placing the Pokemon in remote places throughout China to see if Chinese players will travel there to capture them. If these specific Pokemon aren’t captured, the netizens say this proves the area is a restricted area, and likely to contain a military base.
“Then, when war breaks out, Japan and the US can easily target their guided missiles, and China will have been destroyed by the invasion of a Japanese-American game,” wrote a netizen on Weibo.
Pokemon Go is not available to play in China. Despite anticipation, Nintendo has not made any announcements signifying the game will eventually be released in the Chinese market.
Chinese fans who want to play the sought-after game must overcome a number of technical hurdles to do so, not least of all being able to overcome the Great Firewall of China, the country’s internet protocol that blocks domestic access to prohibited websites. The mapping function of Pokemon Go also relies on Google services, which are not accessible in China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was unaware of reports that Pokemon Go could pose a security risk to China. Lu said he didn’t have time to play with such things.
Calls for a boycott have also been recently sounded in China in retalitation against an international ruling that rejected China’s claim to the South China Sea. Numerous protests have occurred at KFC fast food restaurants at multiple cities across China as protestors call for a boycott of all goods from the USA, South Korea, and Japan.