Vietnam bans ‘Barbie’ movie over South China Sea map


“Barbie” press tour at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

Matt Winkelmeyer | Wireimage | Getty Images

Warner Bros’ “Barbie” movie has been banned in Vietnam, according to the country’s state media, after featuring a map which contained Beijing’s unilaterally claimed territory in the South China Sea.

The American live-action movie reportedly features a scene with a map showing the “nine-dash line.” This is used on Chinese maps to illustrate its claims to large parts of the South China Sea. Vietnam is just one of many nations that contest those claims.

The territory dispute was brought to an international tribunal in The Hague in 2016, and resulted in a rejection of China’s claims to the majority of the South China Sea. But Beijing did not accept the judgement. The South China Sea is a vital trade route connecting the main arteries of trade in Southeast Asia.

“Barbie” was set to hit Vietnamese cinemas on July 21, the same day as its American debut, but the ban has caused movie theaters to remove the feature from lists of upcoming films, according to state newspaper Tuổi Trẻ.

The ban was confirmed to the newspaper by Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Vietnam Cinema Department. CNBC was unable to independently verify the report.

“Barbie” is not the first movie to be banned in Vietnam for including imagery of a map showing the “nine-dash line.” The 2022 Tom Holland filmed “Unchartered” was barred last year for the same reason, as was the 2019 DreamWorks film “Abominable.”

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