Why Vietnam Banned ‘Barbie’ Movie Over China’s Controversial ‘9-Dash Line’ Map

“Barbie,” dressed in a blue dress with a white collar, stands in front of a map of the world showing the disconnected shapes of different geographical areas.

An image from a scene from the upcoming ‘Barbie’ movie, starring Margot Robbie, at the center of controversy for using a map that includes the ‘nine-dash line’. (Photos by Warner Bros.)

Between the bright pink mansion in Malibu for rent and the simple magenta billboards Appearing everywhere, Greta Gerwig’s film “Barbie”, based on the famous doll from the toy company Mattel, is apparently being promoted across the world. But just weeks before its worldwide release later this month, it looks like not everyone will have a chance to see the film.

Film regulators in the Philippines are now threatening to join Vietnam in banning the Warner Bros. movie. across the country, on a scene from the film that depicts a map of Southeast Asia that includes the so-called “nine-dash line”, which has long been disputed.

What is the “9-dash line” and why is it controversial?

The “nine-dash line” is an imaginary U-shaped or “cow’s tongue” line, usually depicted on a nine-dash map, which indicates China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. China has asserted since the late 1940s that it has rights to the demarcated area, but Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all claim that claim violates their sovereignty.

An infographic entitled: The South China Sea, hotbed of sovereignty disputes between China and other coastal countries in the region.

An infographic showing territorial disputes in the South China Sea on January 6. (Omar Zaghloul/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Various official and unofficial Chinese maps depict the nine-dash line running near the coast of Vietnam, deep into the South China Sea near Malaysia, and up and around the Philippines, surrounding the Spratly Islands.

The researchers say China has never explicitly explained what the nine-dash line means, leaving it open to interpretation. Beyond assumptions of sovereignty, no coordinates for islands or baselines were provided to diplomats or maritime lawyers, as required by international law.

As recently as 2016, an international tribunal ruled against China’s nine-dash line claim, and no clear way for its implementation has been offered. China has rejected the decision, even building vast military facilities in recent years on previously uninhabited islands in the region.

Vietnam and China’s longstanding territorial claims to a potentially energy-rich part of the South China Sea are at the heart of the dispute. For many people, maps often stir up nationalist sensitivities, as highlighted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Some critics say the map’s inclusion in the film indicates how much Hollywood relies on its Chinese audience. Blockbuster films can often make hundreds of millions or even a billion dollars at the box office there, as film producers turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Beijing to make money .

A young man looks at a poster showing five animated characters in red jumpsuits and black masks.

In Beijing in 2005, a man looks at the posters of the animated film “The Incredibles” by Pixar in front of a cinema. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Why was the movie ‘Barbie’ banned in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s National Film Rating Board decided to ban the film on Monday, after it said a map in the film that depicts the nine-dash line represents a violation of Vietnamese sovereignty.

“We do not license the release of the American film ‘Barbie’ in Vietnam because it contains the offensive image of the nine-dash line,” Vi Kien Thanh, head of the country’s film department, told the state-owned company Tuoi Tre. log.

Are there any other countries that ban the film?

The Philippines is currently deliberating on the release of the movie “Barbie”. A Filipino senator, Francis Tolentino, said the film should be banned because it “disparages Filipino sovereignty”, while another suggested an “explicit warning” be incorporated.

“The film is fiction, and so is the nine-dash line,” Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros said Tuesday. “At a minimum, our theaters should include an explicit disclaimer that the nine-dash line is a figment of China’s imagination.”

Ryan Gosling, in a pink jacket, and Margot Robbie in a pink plaid bra and bare midriff pose on the red carpet.

Canadian actor Ryan Gosling and Australian actress Margot Robbie arrive for Warner Brothers Pictures’ “Barbie” red carpet photocall during CinemaCon 2023 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 25. (Bridget Bennett/AFP via Getty Images)

Is ‘Barbie’ the first movie to be banned on the 9-dash line?

No, this isn’t the first time a movie has been banned because of the Nine Dash controversy. The Vietnamese and Philippine governments banned Sony’s action movie “Unchartered” last year because of this. And in 2019, the Philippines and Malaysia halted domestic distribution of DreamWorks’ animated film “Abominable,” after producers refused to remove a scene featuring the nine-dash line. In Vietnam, the film was released a week before being pulled.

In 2021, Netflix removed some episodes of an Australian spy drama, “Pine Gap”, from the streaming service in the Philippines following scenes involving the nine-dash line, while Vietnamese authorities pulled the drama completely. .

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