China views Pokemon Go as a threat to its military bases

Part of our Pokemon Madness Collection
By Daniel Starkey Jul. 18, 2016 9:30 am

While Pokemon Go‘s popularity continues to gather steam, some have soured on the insanely prolific mobile app. While not yet available in China, conspiracy theories about the real purpose of Pokemon have surfaced on Chinese social media sites.

Pokemon Go, in case you haven’t heard, is ans augmented reality game that tracks your location and  lets you capture magical beasts. It takes place in a virtual space that is loosely based on your position in the real world. The game was developed in a partnership between Nintendo, the creator and owner of the Pokemon license, and Niantic, a subsidiary of Google that specializes in augmented reality games.

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For these conspiracy theorists, the location tracking is precisely the problem. If Niantic drops rare Pokemon where people don’t often go, then some unwary player might wander into restricted areas.

“Don’t play Pokemon GO!!!,” one user said on the Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site. “It’s so the U.S. and Japan can explore China’s secret bases!”

Other hypotheses say that if a rare Pokemon shows up and nobody tracks it down, you could surmise that the area is top secret.

“Then, when war breaks out,” one post said, ” Japan and the U.S. can easily target their guided missiles and China will have been destroyed by the invasion of a Japanese-American game.” nintendo_tablet

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Even though China is the largest market for mobile games and apps, it’s unlikely that Pokemon Go will see a release there anytime soon. Most Google services are blocked in China, and Pokemon Go was built up from data culled from Google Maps and Ingress (another augmented reality game from Niantic). Neither of which have been available in China.


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Some users in the US have tried playing Pokemon Go near Area 51 — one of the most famous and heavily guarded bases in the world — and the results were about what you’d expect. Some regular and occasionally rare Pokemon around, but nothing special. Other than the fact that there aren’t too many players out in the middle of the Nevada desert.

While it’s certainly possible that someone could discern the location of a secret base with Pokemon Go, these kinds of facilities are usually pretty far from cities anyway. And as many others have noted, rural areas are basically dead zones for Pokemon Go.

It’s safe to say that Chinese military secrets aren’t going to be at risk any time soon.

People’s Liberation Army image courtesy of

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