Vietnam has removed the animated film “Abominable” from its theaters because of a scene that depicts the main character standing in front of a map that shows the Chinese regime’s “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea.
The movie was jointly produced by the Shanghai-based Pearl Studio and Comcast-owned DreamWorks Animation.
Islands, reefs, and rocks in the South China Sea are claimed by a number of countries in the region, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.
To assert its claim in the disputed territories, Beijing has used the “nine-dash line” to proclaim its sovereignty over 90 percent of the South China Sea, even as a United Nations legal judgment in 2016 refuted Beijing’s claims.
‘Abominable,’ the animated movie produced by Dreamworks & Shanghai-based Pearl Studio, has been pulled from theaters in Vietnam after viewers noticed a map apparently depicting China’s 9-dash line in the East Sea. (Screenshot & ‘X’ via Zing.) pic.twitter.com/S2OUR6xyu2
— Mike Tatarski (@miketatarski) October 14, 2019
The Chinese regime has refused to accept the U.N. ruling and instead has boosted its military presence there, including on the surrounding the Spratly and Paracel islands, where it has constructed artificial islands equipped with naval and air bases.
Nguyen Thu Ha, director of the cinema department of Vietnam’s culture ministry, said she was responsible for failing to take notice of the map, and has coordinated with CJ CGV Vietnam, the official distributor of “Abominable” in the country, to stop showing the film, according to Vietnamese media. The culture ministry is in charge of licensing and censoring foreign films.
Ta Quang Dong, deputy culture minister, said the film’s license will be revoked, according to Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Hoang Hai, director of distribution for CJ CGV Vietnam, told local daily newspaper Tuoi Tre that the movie screening cancellations were due to “lack of audiences.”
“Abominable,” known in Vietnam as “Everest Nguoi Tuyet Be Nho” (Everest the Petite Yeti), is about a young girl named Yi who goes on a 2,000-mile journey with a yeti—an abominable snowman—named Everest. The movie opened in late September in the United States and Canada, and began showing in Vietnamese theaters on Oct. 4.
Pearl Studio is owned by China Media Capital (CMC), a private equity and venture capital firm that’s based in Shanghai. CMC’s chairman, Li Ruigang, is a former government official: he was deputy secretary-general and chief of staff of Shanghai’s municipal government from 2011 to 2012. From 2010 to 2011, he was also president of China’s state-owned Shanghai Media Group.
Dr. Tran Duc Cuong, president of Vietnam Historical Science Association (VAHS), said that showing the “nine-dash line,” even for a few seconds, isn’t acceptable because that’s a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty, according to an Oct. 14 report by Thanh Nien. Dr. Nguyen Quang Ngoc, vice chairman of VAHS, said that China’s “nine-dash line” is a Chinese invention that has no historical basis.
Vietnamese authorities have previously pulled a Chinese movie because of scenes related to the disputed waters.
In March 2018, the Chinese action war film, “Operation Red Sea,” was removed from theaters after one of the scenes hinted that the South China Sea belonged to China, according to local newspaper VnExpress. The scene showed a group of Chinese warships surrounding a foreign ship and ordering it to leave, after claiming that the area—South China Sea—was Chinese territorial waters.
Tensions between Vietnam and China have flared in recent months over Chinese ships operating in the disputed waters, which fall into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
In late August, the Pentagon called out Beijing on “bullying tactics” for operating a survey vessel near the Vietnam coastline.