A line too far . . .
Abominable, a co-produced animated film by DreamWorks and Chinese company Pearl Studios, was blocked by Malaysian authorities on the weekend after failing to meet censor board requirements. The film, which depicts the story of a Chinese girl who befriends a Yeti, was hit with controversy after a scene in the film featured a map showing the contested ‘nine-dash line,’ which asserts the People’s Republic of China’s territorial claims over the South China Sea. Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board said it would approve the film if the map was jettisoned, but Universal Studios, the parent company of DreamWorks, opted not to make the cut. Last week, Vietnam’s Culture Ministry also ordered a halt to screenings of Abominable over the same map controversy, just a week after its release.
Overlapping claims in the South China Sea . . .
Malaysia and Vietnam along with Brunei, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan have disputed claims over the South China Sea. Last week, the Philippines also reacted to the new movie, with Teodoro Locsin, the country’s foreign secretary, calling for a universal boycott of all DreamWorks productions on Twitter. In 2016, the Philippines won an arbitration case in The Hague against China concerning the legality of the nine-dash line, although China has refused to recognize the decision. China’s Foreign Ministry said it had no information about the Abominable ban, but did reiterate that its claims in the South China Sea were clear and consistent.
Companies bow to Chinese pressure . . .
The uproar against DreamWorks adds to the list of big global brands that have been hit recently by geopolitical controversy. The NBA and Apple were at the centre of debate this month after the Houston Rockets general manager issued a tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters, and Apple removed an app from its Hong Kong store that helped protesters track police. Last year, companies such as Marriott Hotels, The Gap, and several international airlines bowed to pressure from Beijing over the inclusion of Taiwan in China’s territorial claims.
- Bloomberg: ‘Abominable’ won’t screen in Malaysia after China map dispute
- The Washington Post: Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
- Global News: Vietnam bans ‘Abominable’ movie over South China Sea map