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Barbie Ban in Vietnam Highlights South China Sea Dispute

Vietnam has made headlines for banning the distribution of the highly anticipated Barbie movie within its borders. The decision comes as a result of the film featuring a map that showcases China’s disputed territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.

Various media outlets have reported that posters advertising the film were promptly taken down from movie distributors’ websites following the government’s decision. Starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s comedic portrayal of their seemingly idyllic world, Barbie was slated to hit Vietnamese theaters on July 21.

Vietnam Stands Up to China with Barbie Ban

The reports have quoted Vi Kien Thanh, the Director General of the Vietnam Cinema Department, who attributed the ban to the National Film Evaluation Council’s ruling. Thanh highlighted that the movie contains a map that prominently displays China’s controversial “nine-dash line,” a demarcation that extends Beijing’s territorial claims deep into waters claimed by Vietnam and other neighboring countries. This move by Vietnam is part of a broader effort to assert its sovereignty in the face of China’s expansive claims.

Vietnam has taken such action multiple times in the past against films that involve China’s disputed claims. Most notably, Tom Holland’s ‘Uncharted (2022)’ was banned by the Vietnamese government last year, and 4 years ago the animated movie ‘Abominable (2019)’ was pulled from screens due to scenes featuring the same controversial map.

As the Barbie movie ban continues to gain attention, it underscores the ongoing tensions surrounding the South China Sea and the competing territorial claims of various nations. The decision reflects Vietnam’s resolve to protect its interests in the region and assert its stance against China’s claims, setting the stage for further discussions and debates on the geopolitical dynamics of the area.

The Significance of South China Sea

The South China Sea dispute is one of the most complex and contentious issues in Asia. It poses challenges for regional stability, security and cooperation. It also requires a peaceful and lawful resolution that respects the rights and interests of all parties involved.

The South China Sea is a strategic waterway that connects the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is also rich in natural resources, such as fish, oil and gas. However, the ownership of the sea and its islands is disputed by several countries, namely China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has claimed almost the entire South China Sea on the basis of a historical map showing dashed lines enclosing most of the waters. The nine-dash line map was first published by the Republic of China in 1947 and later adopted by the People’s Republic of China after 1949. China argues that it has historical rights and sovereignty over the sea and its islands.

Resource Exploitation

Other countries reject China’s claim and assert their own rights based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The doctrine defines different maritime zones and their legal status. According to UNCLOS, coastal states have sovereignty over their territorial sea, which extends up to 12 nautical miles from their baseline. They also have exclusive rights to explore and exploit the resources in their exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which extends up to 200 nautical miles from their baseline. Beyond that, there is the high seas, which are open to all states.

The problem is that some of the islands and features in the South China Sea are claimed by more than one country, and their status is unclear under UNCLOS. For example, some of them are submerged at high tide and do not qualify as islands that can generate maritime zones. Others are rocks that can only generate a territorial sea but not an EEZ. Moreover, some of the claims overlap with each other, creating areas of conflict and tension.

Internal and External Conflicts

The dispute has led to several incidents and confrontations in the South China Sea, such as naval patrols, fishing clashes, island-building activities, military exercises and diplomatic protests.

The situation is complicated by the involvement of external powers, such as the United States, Japan and Australia, who have strategic interests in the region and support the freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law.

These conflicts are also detrimental to the global economy because they threaten the stability and security of a vital trade route, disrupt the supply and demand of energy and commodities, and undermine the regional cooperation and integration that are essential for growth and development.

A I Butt
A I Butt
The purpose of my writing is to record the same voices that are repressed by manual systems.
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