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What is the nine-dash line? 'Barbie' movie banned over offensive use of disputed map

2023-07-04 18:28
Vietnam asserts that maps displaying China's nine-dash line infringe upon its sovereignty and prohibits images that validate China's illegal claim
What is the nine-dash line? 'Barbie' movie banned over offensive use of disputed map

HANOI, VIETNAM: Vietnam has reportedly banned Greta Gerwig's highly anticipated 'Barbie' film due to a scene featuring a map depicting China's contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. This decision adds to a series of film releases caught in the messy and long standing political dispute over territory in the region. The map in question displays the "nine-dash line," which represents China's territorial claims.

The U-shaped line signifies areas claimed by China, including territory considered to be part of Vietnam's continental shelf, where it was granted oil concessions. The 'Barbie' film, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, was scheduled for release in Vietnam on July 21. Previously, the Vietnamese government had also pulled one of DreamWorks' animated films and one of Sony's action movies last year for the same reason.

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Background of South China Sea dispute

Vi Kien Thanh, the head of Vietnam's cinema department, stated that the National Film Evaluation Council decided not to grant a license for the film due to its inclusion of the "illegal image." The South China Sea holds immense economic and strategic significance and is heavily contested. China, being the region's economic and military powerhouse, claims almost the entire sea based on historic use and has reinforced its claim through the construction of military installations and artificial islands.

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However, other governments, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam, dispute China's claim. An international tribunal in The Hague rejected China's claim in 2016, a ruling that China has rejected while continuing to assert its territorial rights in the region. Consequently, countries like Vietnam have prohibited images that seemingly validate China's illegal claim.

The 'Barbie' buzz

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'Barbie' is among the highly anticipated summer releases. It is a live-action story centered around the popular Mattel dolls Barbie and Ken, featuring an all-star cast including Gosling, Robbie, Ferrell, McKinnon, Gatwa, Cera, Liu, Ferrera, and Dua Lipa. The film has generated significant excitement on social media, including memes, particularly as it shares a release date with another eagerly awaited but tonally different film, 'Oppenheimer'.

This buzz has raised expectations for its box office performance. It is not the first film to be banned in the region due to the inclusion of the nine-dash line — 'Abominable' and 'Uncharted' faced similar restrictions in Malaysia and Vietnam in 2019 and 2022, respectively.

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