DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable has drawn calls for boycotts and censorship in Southeast Asia, because it shows a map of China with maritime claims that the country’s neighbors dispute.
The map shows Beijing’s so-called “nine-dash line” encompassing about 80 percent of the South China Sea as Chinese territorial waters. Universal Pictures, which released the film worldwide, and its partner and coproducer China-based Pearl Studio declined to comment.
The uproar adds DreamWorks to the list of big global brands hit by geopolitical crossfire in Asia over issues from sovereignty to maritime boundaries and political unrest. The NBA saw broadcasts of its exhibition games in China canceled after a team official in the US expressed his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong in a tweet that was later deleted.
Abominable tells the story of a teenage girl named Yi, who finds a yeti on her roof in Shanghai. She names him “Everest” and sets off to help him get home to his family in the Himalayas. The movie also opened in US theaters late last month and in China on Oct. 1.
Vietnam has ordered a halt to screenings of Abominable, while Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr on Thursday called for a boycott of all Dreamworks movies.
Censors in Malaysia have ordered the scene showing the map removed from the movie, Reuters reported on Thursday.
“For me, call a universal boycott of all DreamWorks production here on,” Locsin said on Twitter.
Locsin’s post came in reaction to one by a maritime-law professor calling for the movie to be banned in the Philippines, but the country has yet to impose any restrictions on the film.
Asian countries including Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have been disputing China’s sovereignty claims over islands and waters between them.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in a rare rebuke of China earlier this year, told the country to lay off an island in the disputed waters. Manila has also protested the presence of more than 200 Chinese vessels near the area.
Meanwhile, Duterte is pressing ahead with a plan to jointly explore for oil and gas in the sea with China, which has promised a 60-40 split in revenue that favors the Philippines. The US has estimated that the region has US$2.5 trillion in unexploited hydrocarbon resources.
In a separate tweet on Thursday, Locsin weighed in again on Abominable.
“Failure to react may be seen as a kind of submission on the diplomatic level, but our reaction must be minimally invasive of free speech concerns,” Locsin wrote.
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