Warner Bros downplays maritime map in ‘Barbie’ that got it banned in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, July 7 (EFE).- The Warner Bros. film studio has downplayed a controversial map of the South China Sea, featured in its film “Barbie” that got the film banned in Vietnam, as a “child-like” drawing that conveys no serious message.

“The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing. The doodles depict Barbie’s make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the ‘real world.’ It was not intended to make any type of statement,” a spokesperson for the Warner Bros Film Group told specialized entertainment magazine Variety.

Vietnam banned the movie on Monday due to a scene in which the map of the South China Sea appears with a dotted U-shaped line, representing China’s territorial claims to the disputed region.

The Movie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, was originally scheduled to open in Vietnam on July 21, the same date as in the United States.

However, Vi Kien Thanh, head of the cinema department in the Vietnamese Culture Ministry, told local media outlets that the film would not be distributed in the country due to featuring the controversial map.

The U-shaped delimitation that covers almost the entire South China Sea (called the East Sea in Vietnam) and appears on Chinese maps, is a source of controversy for Vietnam and other nations that claim full or partial sovereignty on the Spratly and Paracel Islands, also claimed by Beijing.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said Thursday that all films and products with the controversial map, which carries the so-called “cow’s tongue line” or “nine-dash line,” were illegal in Vietnam.

The iMe Entertainment Group Asia, organizer for South Korean all-girl band Blackpink’s upcoming Vietnam concerts slated for Hanoi later this month, also apologized for publishing the same map on its websites, a move has already prompted an investigation by Hanoi.

“Barbie” is the latest movie to be banned in Vietnam for using the controversial map, after the animated film “Abominable” was pulled in 2019 and the action film “Uncharted” was censored last year.

In 2021, streaming platform Netflix also removed Australian spy series “Pine Gap” for the same reason.

In recent years, there have been multiple episodes of tension between Beijing and Hanoi over the incursion of Chinese vessels into Vietnamese territorial waters and the occasional harassment of Vietnamese fishing vessels by Chinese ships.

Beijing claims almost all of the disputed South China Sea where it has already built military facilities on several islets. This maritime area is also partially claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. EFE


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