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New Barbie Movie Prohibited in Vietnam

The movie includes a world map that Vietnamese authorities believe depicts disputed territory line claimed by China

Vietnam banned the soon-to-be-released Barbie movie over a map that seems to favor China’s claim to the South China Sea.

The movie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, includes a shot of a map marked with the “nine-dash line,” which is used by Chinese authorities on maps of the South China Sea. The controversial line is opposed by several South Asian nations – including Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan – which dispute China’s territorial claims. 

In the Warner Bors movie, an abstract world map can be seen over Robbie’s shoulder. While the nine-dash line is typically drawn in the shape of a “U,” Barbie includes a dashed line near Asia which curves in the shape of a backward “S.”

Vietnamese state media has argued the line on the movie’s map “distorts the truth” and breaks the law, per Axios.

Vietnam previously banned the 2019 DreamWorks film Abominable and the 2022 Sony Pictures film Uncharted for including clear depictions of the nine-dash line. 

Additionally, a scene showing a designer bag with a map that had the nine-dash line was cut from the film Crazy Rich Asians before it was permitted to be screened in Vietnam in 2018

In a 2016 ruling in the Hague’s international arbitration court brought by the Philippines, the court ruled China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea were baseless,” reports The Washington Examiner. “China has ignored the ruling, continuing to claim the waters as its territory and using the map with the nine dashes, which makes its claims.”

The Philippines is reportedly also considering banning the Barbie movie, which is scheduled to be released in the United States on July 21. 

“If the invalidated 9-dash line was indeed depicted in the movie ‘Barbie,’ then it is incumbent upon the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ban the same as it denigrates Philippine sovereignty,” Philippines Senator Francis Tolentino, vice chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, told reporters in a statement, per Variety.

In a statement to CNN, Tolentino suggested a compromise would be to edit out the map scene.

Alternatively, Senator Risa Hontiveros told the outlet that the movie should “at the minimum” include a disclaimer stating that the nine-dash line is “a figment of China’s imagination.”

The Philippeans’ MTRBC reviewed Barbie on July 4 and has not yet released its decision.

The area at the center of the territory dispute spans approximately 1,200 miles south of mainland China. In total, the area claimed by China equates to 80% of the South China Sea and includes islands already claimed by Vietnam and other nations in the region.

To complicate things further, a large continental shelf stretches from mainland Vietnam beneath the eastern part of the sea, within China’s apparent ‘nine-dash line,’” reports the Los Angeles Times.

 The Chinese government has claimed it has a “historical right” to the area.

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