Due to a controversial scene depicting China’s disproven territorial claim, DreamWorks film "Abominable" has been pulled out of Philippine cinemas since Tuesday, the Movie and Tele­vision Review and Classification Board said in a statement sent to Pilipino Star Ngayon Oct. 17, 2019.
YouTube screengrab/DreamWorksTV
MTRCB: 'Abominable' off Philippine theaters since Tuesday
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - October 18, 2019 - 5:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — Due to a controversial scene depicting China’s disproven territorial claim, DreamWorks film "Abominable" has been pulled out of Philippine cinemas since Tuesday, the Movie and Tele­vision Review and Classification Board said in a statement sent to Pilipino Star Ngayon Thursday.

“MTRCB understands the situation brought about by the movie ‘Abominable. We wish to assure the public that the said movie is already off the Philippine market effective October 15, 2019,” chair Rachel Arenas said.

The said map shown in the film contained China’s "nine-dash line," legally invalidated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands. The term refers to literal dash marks in maps of China that allege its claim to around 80% of the resource-rich South China Sea.

The number of dash marks can vary, but the popular term used in maps that attempt to legitimize Chinese maritime territory is known as the "nine-dash line."

China has maritime disputes in the South China Sea with the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. Over $5 trillion in trade passes yearly through the waterway.

“Abominable” was a joint production between DreamWorks and the Chinese-owned Pearl Studio, which is responsible for animated films such as "Kung Fu Panda 3" and "How to Train Your Dragon 2," among others. 

The film premiered on October 2 in the Philippines. Click the City, which provides movie schedules in theaters across the country, no longer lists screenings for the film.

Online users also pointed out that the scene with China’s nine-dash line also excluded Visayas and Mindanao from the Philippine map.

Malacañang earlier this week said it was the MTRCB’s discretion if it would ban “Abominable.”

Southeast Asia fighting back

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. called for a “universal boycott” and ban of all DreamWorks movies in the Philippines.

Locsin later suggested to instead cut out scenes where the nine-dash line was shown.

Vietnam pulled "Abominable" out of its theaters on Monday.

Meanwhile, a Malaysian official on Thursday said a conditional screening of the film was approved. The country’s Film Censorship Board ordered the controversial scene removed.

Hague ruling

The Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12, 2016, ruled that China’s "nine-dash line" territorial claim is invalid.

“[T]he Tribunal concludes that, as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention,” the award read.

“The Tribunal concludes that the Convention superseded any historic rights or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction in excess of the limits imposed therein.”

The international tribunal determined that China not only violated the Philippines’ sovereignty but also left irreversible environmental consequences.

Evidence include the stealing of giant clams and sea turtles, harmful fishing practices that damaged the fragile coral reef ecosystem in the South China Sea, conducting massive land reclamation at seven reefs in the Spratly Islands and construction of artificial islands.

The said construction of islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone was also found in violation of Beijing’s commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“The Tribunal concludes that, as between the Philippines and China, the Convention defines the scope of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, which may not extend beyond the limits imposed therein,” the ruling read.

While the Hague decision had a legal basis and was ground on valid evidence, the Philippine government under the Duterte administration refuses to assert the findings with China.

ABOMINABLE DREAMWORKS ANIMATION NINE DASH LINE SOUTH CHINA SEA AND WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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