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‘Offensive’ Barbie movie banned in Vietnam

Vietnam bans 'Barbie' movie over controversial map

One of the year’s most anticipated movies, Barbie, has been banned in Vietnam amid anger at its depiction of China’s disputed territorial claims.

Vietnam is one of several countries fighting China’s claim over the South China Sea, where Beijing has been building military bases.

In one scene in the Barbie movie, a map is displayed that shows the contentious “nine-dash line” outlining China’s claim.

The U-shaped line imposed by China includes territory that Vietnam considers its continental shelf, and in which it was awarded oil concessions.

The image was seen in the trailer released in May, with Australian actor Margot Robbie, who portrays Barbie, standing in front of the semi-fictitious map.

The cartoonish drawing, which was meant to depict the “real world”, displays eight dashes in Asian waters.

It’s not known if the movie intentionally referenced the disputed line.

“We do not grant license for the American movie Barbie to release in Vietnam because it contains the offending image of the nine-dash line,” Vietnam’s department of cinema head, Vi Kien Thanh, told state-controlled newspaper Tuoi Tre.

Vietnam has a history of banning movies for the same reason. Sony’s Uncharted was disallowed in 2022, while DreamWorks’ Abominable was banned in 2019. in 2021, Netflix removed Australian spy drama series Pine Gap from streaming.

China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the waters between Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia as it lays claim to the territory on the basis of historical use.

In 2016, Beijing ignored an international tribunal in The Hague that rule its claim had no basis in law and the Philippines was entitled to an exclusive economic zone in part of the area claimed by China.

Additionally, Beijing has caused uproar by dismissing the claims of other countries, including Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei – and Vietnam.

Watch the 'Barbie' movie trailer

Source: YouTube/Warner Bros

The broad ocean claim has also led to tense standoffs with other ASEAN nations as Chinese fishing boats and military vessels becoming more aggressive in the disputed waters.

Barbie, which is one of 2023’s most eagerly anticipated films, also stars Ryan Gosling as Barbie’s boyfriend Ken. It is directed by Greta Gerwig.

It will be released in Australia on July 20. It had been scheduled to follow in Vietnam on July 21.

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