Vietnam has pulled the movie Abominable after an online outcry over a map included in the movie featuring China’s fictitious and illegal nine-dashed line appeared in one of the scenes.
Abominable is an animated movie that portrays a story about a young Chinese girl who has befriended a Yeti. The main characters are all Chinese, living in modern China, and voiced predominantly by Asian actors.
It is co-developed by U.S. animation giant, DreamWorks, and China’s Pearl Studio. It garnered $20.9 million when it opened in US cinemas, and another 20 million yuan when it opened in China.
“We will revoke [the film’s license,” Ta Quang Dong, deputy minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, was quoted as saying by the Thanh Nien newspaper. The movie first started showing in Vietnamese cinemas on October 4.
“I will claim responsibility” for the mistake, said Nguyen Thu Ha, the head of Vietnam’s Cinema Department, according to the same Vietnamese newspaper. Ha said she would remind her department “to be very vigilant… to be more prudent” in the future.
In Vietnam, all films in the one-party state must be approved by communist censors who screen for violence, suggestive sex scenes or politically-sensitive material.
The controversial map can be seen when the teenage Chinese girl is set on her path to help return her Yeti friend back to his home in Mount Everest. In a brief yet obvious scene, the nine-dashed line, rather ten-dashed, appears to go around the entire South China Sea.
The map even overtakes Taiwan—an independently functioning democracy—as well as islands and maritime zones claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.
In the past, China has used the U-shaped line to reason that the resource-rich South China Sea is under its maritime claims. Notably, the line first appeared on an official Chinese map in the 1940s, and then was adopted by the Communist Chinese republic. However, an international tribunal ruled the line was essentially illegal in 2016.
Up to this day, despite numerous times that a UN tribunal has denied China’s claim, the Communist country continues to treat the region as their own. In consequence, China and Vietnam have been locked in a months-long stand-off in the disputed waterways after China dispatched a vessel to conduct an energy survey within waters controlled by Vietnam in early July.
The controversial map also supplements recent media circulation regarding Chinese influence over other international businesses.
Recently, China removed the NBA streams after Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, expressed his support for Hong Kong protesters on Twitter. Since then, the NBA issued a Chinese-language statement, in which it said it was “disappointed” by Morey’s views, and that they had “greatly hurt the feelings of Chinese fans.”
The same week, US gaming company Blizzard banned a professional player from Hong Kong (though the punishment has now been lightened) for shouting protest slogans in a post-match interview.
Then came another U.S. giant, Apple, where it decided to silently remove the Taiwanese flag from its emoji keyboard on the latest iOS update and then removing a Hong Kong protest map app from its app store.