Animated film “Abominable” will no longer be shown in Vietnamese theaters after a scene was found to feature a map showing China’s infamous “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea.
Chinese maps added the unilaterally declared line to illustrate its claims over the resource-rich territory, which includes portions of what Vietnam regards as its continental shelf.
“Abominable,” which is a joint production between Dreamworks Animation and Pearl Studio in Shanghai, was first shown in Vietnamese cinemas on Oct 4, Reuters reports.
“We will revoke (the film’s licence),” said Ta Quang Dong, deputy minister of culture, sports and tourism. The government agency is in charge of licensing and censoring foreign films.
Featuring a Chinese girl who discovers a yeti living on her roof, the film was being marketed in Vietnam as “Everest: The Little Yeti.” Images of the scene with the offending map became widely shared on social media.
According to local state media, Vietnam has decided to pull the DreamWorks movie from cinemas after moviegoers noticed the controversial scene. It was officially removed from cinemas on Sunday.
Aside from Vietnam and China, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia also have overlapping claims over the area that the nine-dash-line is trying to cover.
The Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against China’s territorial claim on the “nine-dash line” back in 2013, citing that it is unlawful under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) convention. China refused to participate in the arbitration. The five arbitrators of the tribunal agreed unanimously with the Philippines in July 2016, concluding in the award that there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources, hence there was “no legal basis for China to claim historic rights” over the Nine-Dash Line.
In the Philippines, calls to ban “Abominable” have also erupted on social media, causing Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to recommend “cutting out the scene” featuring China’s unilaterally imposed “nine-dash line.”
“What about cutting out that scene? You’re a lawyer, on what ground can we ban — and which agency has that power — an implicit message, assuming any Filipino will assert his First Amendment right in the case?” Locsin wrote in a tweet responding to Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.
In his tweet, Locsin also suggested a “universal boycott of all @Dreamworks productions from here on.”
Batongbacal responded with: “Agree this is a slippery slope, but think we should push back vs. CN propaganda tactics nonetheless.”
“But I think DFA’s role is recommendatory (though strongly persuasive) rather than direct, since MTRCB is not under it. Public clamor/boycott may complement DFA view, if any,” he added.
Featured image via Dreamworks