What was the reason behind the Philippines' decision to prohibit the screening of the Barbie movie?


It has been reported that the Barbie Movie has been banned in the Philippines. Barbie, whose full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, is a well-known American icon and has also become a globally recognized brand featuring diverse dolls from various countries. The movie was released by Warner Bros. on July 21, 2023. It is currently the top movie as of the writing of this blog.

What caused the geopolitical backlash surrounding a seemingly harmless movie about a doll? The answer lies in a map. In a brief scene, a map of Asia displays a "nine-dash line" that highlights China's controversial territorial claims in the South China Sea. Vietnam's National Film Evaluation Council announced a ban on the film's screening due to the contentious map. Other countries, including the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei, also believe that the territorial marking of the South China Sea infringes on their sovereignty.

Senator Francis Tolentino suggests finding a compromise by removing the disputed map. However, this seems improbable since China has already green-lit the film's release. The movie is expected to have a greater viewership in China than in the country where it is banned.

The controversial nine-dash line was addressed in an international tribunal at the Hague which ruled that China had a legal basis for the claim. However, many surrounding countries do not recognize this ruling. For instance, Beijing has not recognized the rule and is in fact, growing its military operations on previously uninhabited islands in the region.

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