Details matter, and nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to depicting historically accurate boundary lines on world maps. Several Asian countries have refused to screen the new animated film Abominable due to a scene that shows a controversial map of the South China Sea.
The film follows the adventures of Everest, a yeti trying to return home, and a Chinese girl named Yi who is helping him on his journey. One scene, depicting a map of the South China Sea, includes the controversial “nine-dash line” — a boundary line that is official Chinese government policy, marking China’s unilateral claim to ownership of the sea. The line is present on all maps sold inside China but is disputed by Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan, who believe it overlaps with their own territory.
Because of the scene, Vietnam pulled the movie from theaters 10 days after its release, with the Philippines doing the same shortly afterward. Now, Malaysia has banned screenings of the film after Universal Studios refused to comply with their request to delete the line.
A spokeswoman for the film’s distributor, United International Pictures, told Reuters, “Universal has decided not to make the censor cut required by the Malaysian censor board and as such will not be able to release the film in Malaysia.”
It might sound like a small dispute, but this latest incident shows just how serious the “nine-dash line” controversy really is in the region.