The U-shaped line is a signifier on Chinese maps which indicates Beijing’s claim for water ownership in the South China Sea, where numerous Asian countries are at odds over the exploration of natural resources. It is a claim that Chinese President Xi Jinping has aggressively tried to assert upon neighbours in the region, sparking opposition from countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the US and Australia. The foreign minister of the Philippines called on Wednesday for a cut to a scene in DreamWorks’ animated film “Abominable” that shows China’s unilaterally declared “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea. Vietnam pulled the film from cinemas on Monday over the scene showing the map.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said on Twitter the scene showing the map should be cut, and people should refuse to watch the film, rather than banning it outright.
Locsin said: “Of course they should cut out the offending scene which will show our displeasure better than if we unconstitutionally ban it as some suggest.”
He said the Philippine film regulator should replace the scene with a “a hectoring lecture”, while calling on film fans to shun the production company altogether.
Locsin added: “For me, call a universal boycott of all DreamWorks productions from here on,”
The film regulator has not responded to the outrage.
A spokesman for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has sought closer ties with China, said on Tuesday the film regulator should decide on whether to pull “Abominable” from Filipino cinemas.
‘Abominable’ is about a Chinese girl who discovers a yeti living on her roof.
The film opened in the Philippines early this month and was no longer being screened in many major cinemas.
Four Southeast Asian countries contest China’s claims in the South China Sea including Taiwan.
In 2016, the Philippines won a case in the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidating China’s claims to almost the entire stretch of sea. China does not recognise the ruling.
The tribunal in The Hague found that China had violated sovereign Filipino rights under the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Mr Duterte said he has been offered a controlling stake in a joint energy deal by Xi Jinping in exchange for ignoring the international arbitration in Manila’s favour.
The Chinese government has history with the Philippines over the region. In 1994, China had a similar confrontation by asserting its ownership of Mischief Reef, which was inside the claimed EEZ of the Philippines.
South China Sea crisis: Will Trump’s Middle East policy help Beijing [ANALYSIS]
South China Sea used by Beijing ‘used to smuggle crude oil’ [INSIGHT]
South China Sea: Russia interested in Philippine ‘power’ [BREAKING]
This occurred just six years after arguably the most violent confrontation over the South China Sea – the Johnson South Reef skirmish.
Chinese troops killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers over the reef with both countries offering different accounts of events.
In July China sent fleets to the Vanguard Bank, an area that lies in the Vietnam economic exclusion zone.
China’s behaviour has not escalated the situation just yet, but increasing pressure on Hanoi has coincided with increased military spending by the Vietnamese government that could reach $7.9billion by 2024.
Such is the complexity of the situation in the South China Sea, it appears even filmmakers cannot evade the diplomatic unrest engulfing Asia.