Updated Jul 5, 2023 - Economy

Why Vietnam banned the "Barbie" movie

Actress Margot Robbie attends a press conference for "Barbie" on July 3, 2023, in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage/Getty Images

As the world gears up for the blockbuster release of the new "Barbie" movie this month, one country won't be diving into Barbie world: Vietnam.

Driving the news: Vietnamese officials banned screenings of the forthcoming film this week because it shows a map with disputed Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, per state media.

The big picture: The map in question shows the U-shaped, “nine-dash line” that reflects China's unilateral and disputed claims to swaths of the South China Sea.

  • The area China claims is equal to about 22% of the country's land mass, according to the State Department.
  • The line traces along the coastlines of Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, which all have competing claims in the South China Sea.
  • An international tribunal at the Hague ruled in 2016 that China's nine-dash line was not valid under international law, but China has not recognized the judgement, per the BBC.

What they're saying: State media reported that the map "distorts the truth" and breaks the law.

  • Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Worth noting: Vietnam has previously banned other movies for depicting the nine-dash line, including Sony's 2022 movie "Uncharted" and DreamWorks’ 2019 animated film “Abominable,” per CNN.

What's next: The Philippines is reportedly considering whether to ban "Barbie" for the same reason, Variety reported.

  • Philippines Senator Francis Tolentino told CNN that editing out the offending scene could be a "middle ground" solution to the issue.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say that state media, not the head of Vietnam's Department of Cinema, said the map distorted the truth and breaks the law.

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