Animal Crossing game removed from sale in China over Hong Kong democracy messages

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Some players have used the game to create politically sensitive images and slogans which they share on social media

The Nintendo Switch game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, has been removed from sale on websites in China, after it was used by Hong Kong activists to spread pro-democracy messages.

Popular simulation game the island disappeared from eBay-the equivalent of China, Taobao, last week.

The game allows users to decorate their gaming environment tool for creating templates which some players used to create the politically sensitive images and slogans that they screenshot and share on social networks. Some of the posts associated with the democratic movement in Hong Kong and attacked the chief Executive Carrie Lam and Chairman of the PRC XI Jinping.

High profile activists, Joshua Wong, last week shared a screenshot on Twitter of his own in-game island with a banner reading “Free Hong Kong, revolution now”.

“For lots of people around the world who play this game, they have to put their ideal life into the game,” said Wong.

“And for Hong Kongers, we have to put our protest movement and our protest sites inside the game.”

It’s unclear whether sales were removed under specific direction from the Chinese government, and there has been no official announcement from authorities. Tech news site, Ping West, said a message was sent to sellers on the Alibaba-owned Taobao late on Thursday, ordering a ban on sales of all Animal Crossing products.

Although the game was not officially available in China, many people bought a parallel imported console from grey market sites like Taobao.

After the game disappeared from Chinese sellers, Wong said users began blaming him.

This is what we do in #AnimalCrossing… maybe it’s why these people are so anxious to go back to the game!! pic.twitter.com/vVeaGq54lv