Vietnam bans upcoming "Barbie film" over contested map of South China Sea presented in the film

Vietnam bans upcoming Barbie film over contested map of South China Sea presented in the film

Vietnam has recently taken the dramatic step of banning the upcoming Barbie film due to a scene featuring a map that depicts contested Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The film, which has been taking over social media in recent weeks ahead of its 21 July release date, has been widely condemned by the Vietnamese government for its perceived challenge to the country's long-disputed claims in the region.

The scene in question portrays a map that includes China's 'nine-dash line', a boundary which features heavily in Chinese maps of the South China Sea to demonstrate its territorial claims.

Vietnam is among a number of countries that contest China's claim to a large part of the sea, and has become increasingly vocal in its opposition to Chinese military bases and naval patrols which are being used to assert Chinese sovereignty in the area.

Beijing's territorial claims have been further rejected by an international tribunal in The Hague, but the Chinese government has refused to recognise the judgement. As a result, Vietnam has now implemented a ban on all films that feature the nine-dash line, with Barbie being the latest in a series of productions to be pulled from the Vietnamese market.

DreamWorks' Abominable and Sony's Uncharted have both been removed in recent years, as has the Australian spy drama Pine Gap, which Netflix was forced to take offline following a complaint from Vietnamese authorities. The South China Sea has become a major flashpoint in the ongoing conflict between China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, all of which have competing claims in the area.

As tensions continue to rise, Vietnam's decision to ban the Barbie film is a clear indication that the country is determined to defend its stance against Chinese territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

Only time will tell if the ban will be effective in challenging Chinese claims in the region, or if it will be another step in a long and complex saga of territorial disputes.

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