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Cartoon withdrawn from cinemas over East Sea map

Update: October, 16/2019 - 06:14

HÀ NỘI  The screening of the recently-released animated film titled Abominable has been cancelled in cinemas across the country because it contains the infamous ‘nine-dash line’ map drawn by China to claim up to 90 per cent of the contested South China Sea (called East Sea by Việt Nam), a film distributor's press release said. 

Receiving reports that the film Abominable, produced by China’s Pearl Studio and American Dream Works, contains the image of the Chinese ‘nine-dash line’, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Monday ordered concerned agencies to revise the cartoon’s content and report back as early as possible.

An image of the nine-dash line in the cartoon Abominable.

According to Nguyễn Thái Bình, chief of Office and spokesperson of the ministry, the culture minister Nguyễn Ngọc Thiện defined the case as serious.

“He asked concerned agencies to check through the screening granting procedure with great care and report back as soon as possible to inform the public,” Bình said.

Bình said on Monday leaders of the ministry’s Cinema Department – which is responsible for granting the film permission to be screened – reviewed the cartoon to figure out responsibilities of those who allowed the film to be screened in Việt Nam.

Last year, a similar incident occurred with the action film Operation Red Sea, directed by Dante Lam. The film was then banned from being screened in Việt Nam. 

After the cartoon’s release in Việt Nam, many parents who took their children to see the film expressed anger when seeing the Chinese nine-dash line map. The map was in the main character’s bedroom. The image appears in four scenes lasting for four seconds in the hour-and-a-half cartoon.

The Director of the Cinema Department, Nguyễn Thu Hà, has admitted her responsibility in the case and would co-ordinate with the distributor to stop screenings.

In their press release to local media, film distributor CGV said they immediately stopped screening the cartoon on Sunday after news it contained the map.

The company has also withdrawn all advertising for the cartoon.

“As the distributor, CGV seriously admits our carelessness in the distribution process,” the press release said.

“We recognise that this is a serious problem. CGV sincerely apologise to Vietnamese audiences and will strictly follow the directions from Vietnamese State management agencies,” the release added.

According to the release, the cartoon features the journey of a yeti named Everest, during which he receives help from a little Chinese girl named Yi and her friends.

Nguyễn Hoàng Hải, Distribution Director of CGV in Việt Nam, said the film was screened for nearly two weeks but did not attract many viewers.

The 'nine-dash line' map is a notion introduced by Beijing’s rulers to claim its “historical sovereignty” over nearly the whole East Sea.

The notion is contrary to international law. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s announcement lacks legal basis under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The contested area in the South China Sea includes the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and the Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelagos of Việt Nam. VNS


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