vietnam censorship

The Vietnamese authorities confirmed on Monday the ban on the movie “Barbie” by a scene featuring the map of the South China Sea with a U-shaped dotted line representing China’s territorial claims to this disputed region.

“Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, was scheduled to open in Vietnam on July 21, the same date as in the United States.

However, Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Department of Cinema within the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, confirmed today to the Thanh Nien news portal that finally the tape will not be distributed in the country.

“We do not license the American film ‘Barbie’ to be released in Vietnam because it contains a offensive image“, said the Vietnamese official in reference to the aforementioned map.

The U-shaped boundary encompassing almost the entire South China Sea (called the East Sea in Vietnam) appears on Chinese maps and is a source of controversy for Vietnam and other countries in the area with which the Asian giant maintains a conflict over full or partial sovereignty of the Spratly and Paracel islands.

“Barbie” is the latest film 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, the Netflix platform also removed the 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 prospecting vessels into Vietnamese territorial waters and the occasional harassment of Vietnamese fishing vessels by Chinese vessels.

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Beijing claims almost all of this maritime space, where it has built facilities for military use on several islets, and which is also partially disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

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