Hong Kong Protesters Spread Democracy Messages on Animal Crossing. Now It’s Gone From a Huge Chinese E-Commerce Site

Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks during a protest in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on Jan. 1, 2020.

April 10, 2020
By: Hillary Leung

Joshua Wong, co-founder of the Demosisto political party, speaks during a protest in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. Hong Kong's turbulence shows no sign of abating in 2020, with the new year marked by rallies showing continued resistance against Beijing's tightening grip over the financial hub. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nintendo’s popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons game has disappeared from China’s biggest e-commerce site—and many on Chinese social media are blaming players in Hong Kong, who used the game to spread pro-democracy messages.

Sellers on Taobao, China’s equivalent of eBay, found that Animal Crossing had disappeared from their online stores Friday morning, according to independent Chinese media outlet Caijing.

Searches for Animal Crossing on Taobao did not return results for the game on Friday, only Animal Crossing-themed merchandise.

The New Horizons installment was released on March 20 and has found an avid audience among protestors in Hong Kong who have taken advantage of the game’s customization features to create anti-government messages. On their virtual islands, characters chant protest slogans and hang up posters criticizing their city’s leaders. In one video shared widely on Twitter, players use bug-catching nets to smack pictures of the city’s unpopular leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam.    [FULL  STORY]