Vietnam pulled Dreamworks’ ‘Abominable’ movie because it used a map staking China’s claim over the disputed South China Sea

A still from the movie

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A still from the movie “Abominable” showing a map including China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.
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Twitter/Movie Details

  • Vietnam pulled Dreamworks’ new movie, “Abominable,” from cinemas because it used a map acknowledging China’s claim over the disputed South China Sea, also known as the “nine-dash line.”
  • Vietnam, China, and many other countries have overlapping claims to the sea. Chinese vessels have been increasingly active in Vietnamese waters in recent months.
  • “We will revoke [the film’s license],” Ta Quang Dong, Vietnam’s deputy culture minister, said on Sunday.
  • “Abominable” follows a Chinese girl who meets a Yeti on her roof and travels with him to the Himalaya mountains.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Vietnam outlawed Dreamworks’ new animation “Abominable” on Sunday because it showed a map acknowledging China’s claim to a disputed part of the South China Sea.

Multiple countries – including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines – have overlapping claims to the sea. Beijing claims a large portion of it as its own, and calls the U-shaped region demarcating it as the “nine-dash line.”

Dispute over waters near Vietnam flared in October after Vietnam claimed a Chinese ship rammed and sank a fishing vessel.

A still from “Abominable” circulating widely on Twitter on Sunday showed a map clearly showing a variant of the dashed line in the South China Sea.

“We will revoke [the film’s license],” Ta Quang Dong, Vietnam’s deputy minister of culture, sports and tourism, told the country’s Thanh Nien newspaper on Sunday, Reuters reported.

The decision was directly a response to the map scene, Reuters added, citing an employee at Vietnam’s National Cinema Center.

A map that depicts China's claim of ownership in the South China Sea.

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A map that depicts China’s claim of ownership in the South China Sea.
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CSIS/David Choi/Business Insider

The movie, directed by “Monsters, Inc.” writer Jill Culton, follows a young Chinese girl who wakes up to find a Yeti on her roof, and and is led on to a journey to the Himalaya mountains to find his family.

The Vietnamese-language edition of the movie – titled “Everest: The Little Yeti” – premiered in the country on October 4, Reuters reported. It appeared to play for nine days before the culture ministry banned the movie.

Read more: Calls to boycott ‘Mulan’ trended after the star of Disney’s live-action remake backed the Hong Kong police in the city’s chaotic protests

A still from

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A still from “Abominable.”
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Dreamworks

Sen. Tom Cottons of Arkansas criticized the ban on Tuesday, saying in a tweet that Dreamworks’ display of the nine-dash line was an example of “kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party by American liberal elites.”

Last Wednesday, broadcasters at ESPN used a map of China which incorporated Taiwan and the “nine-dash line” as part of its territory, sparking fresh criticism among Beijing’s critics.

Country sovereignty is a sensitive topic in China too: Multiple Western designer brands have also landed in hot water in China for identifying the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau as countries, rather than Chinese regions.

Read more: The NBA faces a billion-dollar crisis over one executive’s tweet about Hong Kong. Here’s why China is so hard for Western brands to break into.

Map showing the overlapping claims to the South China Sea. The dashed line in red shows the nine-dash line.

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Map showing the overlapping claims to the South China Sea. The dashed line in red shows the nine-dash line.
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Mike Nudelman/Business Insider