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Vietnam Bans ‘Barbie’ Film for Challenging China’s South China Sea Claims

Vietnam Bans 'Barbie' Over 'Nine-Dash Line' Dispute

Vietnam has recently made headlines by taking a decisive step in the ongoing territorial dispute over the South China Sea. The country has banned the commercial screenings of Warner Bros’ beloved Barbie film, citing a controversial scene that showcases a map of the disputed region.

At the heart of the matter lies the contentious “nine-dash line,” a symbol of China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, which is vehemently contested by the Vietnamese government.

This move has ignited a fresh wave of tensions in the region and raised important questions about the intersection of geopolitics, and national sovereignty.

Vietnam’s Decision to Ban Film Featuring Disputed ‘Nine-Dash Line’ Challenges China’s South China Sea Claims

Scheduled for release in Vietnam on July 21, the film directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling has faced a major setback. The movie includes a depiction of the contentious “nine-dash line,” which represents China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea—a claim that Vietnam vehemently disputes.

This U-shaped line has faced international scrutiny, as it was explicitly rejected in a 2016 ruling by an international arbitration court in The Hague. However, China remains defiant in refusing to acknowledge the ruling.

Vietnam Bans Other Films Featuring Disputed ‘Nine-Dash Line’

Vietnam’s National Film Evaluation Council, headed by Vi Kien Thanh, director general of the Vietnam Cinema Department, has made a significant move. Citing the presence of the contentious “nine-dash line” image, the council has decided not to grant a license for the American movie “Barbie” to be released in Vietnam.

This ban follows similar actions taken against other films, including DreamWorks Animation’s “Abominable” and Sony’s “Uncharted.” Furthermore, even Netflix was ordered to remove the Australian spy drama “Pine Gap” from its Vietnamese service in 2021.

These bans reflect the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, involving China, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei, all asserting competing claims.

The ban serves as a reminder that even forms of entertainment can become battlegrounds in the fight for control over territories and geopolitical influence.