Vietnam pulls Abominable movie over South China sea map

Lawrence Kim
October 15, 2019

Vietnam's largest cinema chain has pulled a new Dreamworks animated movie from theaters because it features a map asserting Chinese ownership over the South China Sea.

Media captionA BBC team flew over the disputed South China Sea islands in a U.S. military plane.

All films in communist Vietnam must be approved by censors who screen for gratuitous violence, suggestive sex scenes or politically-sensitive material. China has claimed the region as its own, while Southeast Asian nations in the area, some of which are much closer geographically, reject the claim, saying pieces of it are rightfully theirs.

Chinese state television and Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s streaming platform last week blacked out two National Basketball Association games in Shanghai and Shenzhen, angered over a tweet by an official supporting the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The movie opened in United States theatres late last month.

The controversial scene shows China's "nine dash line" on a map in the background.

The contested South China Sea.

"We will revoke (the film's release license)", Ta Quang Dong, Vietnam's deputy minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism said, according to the Thanh Nien newspaper.

In Vietnam, Chinese tourists have faced backlash over the territorial claims.

"Because people and companies outside of China don't know or care much about disputes like the nine-dash line, they find themselves adopting these nationalist propaganda positions without knowing much about them", said Julian Ku, a professor at the law school of Hofstra University in NY, adding that the two instances of the map's use likely reflect "a combination of Western companies being ignorant and apathetic about these territorial issues".

Vietnam's censorship department refused to comment on the issue Monday, and DreamWorks did not respond to a request for comment.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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