Shifting battlefields

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 21, 2019 - 12:00am

The Philippines has also followed the actions of other Southeast Asian nations to ban the screening of the movie "Abominable". A scene showing a map of the region and the infamous Nine-Dash-Line was the cause of the outrage. The MTRCB has decided to pull out the film from all theaters in the country. Malaysia and Vietnam were the first to ban the film for the same reason as they too have territorial issues with China. I can only imagine that the cause of the delayed reaction of the country is because of this administration’s closeness to China. But due to widespread criticism of the scene the film was finally banned.

China's Pearl Studio co-produced the film so that may be the reason the map was drawn into the movie showing its ignominious claim to almost all of the South China Sea. It will probably not be the last time this will be done as Chinese film companies have already infiltrated Hollywood. Many movies are already co-produced by Chinese film companies. The country can only decide whether a movie with the same image will be shown in theaters or not. But the MTRCB made the right decision on "Abominable". It is a sorry attempt at China's perpetuating a ridiculous claim which in fact has already been debunked by the decision of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration which this administration has set aside. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio has promised that he will continue to fight for the rightful claim of the country even after his retirement. That's Chief Justice Carpio for you.

I remember the Chinese passport also included a map with the Nine-Dash-Line obviously to assert their ownership of most of the South China Sea. The map was widely criticized but had no effect on China. Indeed the film "Abominable" may only lose a little in revenue since only three countries that I know of have banned it from theaters. China has effectively brought the issue of territorial ownership in the South China Sea into a Hollywood film. Would Filipino films do the same? Would films make assertions on our ownership of Panatag Shoal, Recto Bank, Ayungin Shoal, and Pagasa Island? Will a film eventually shoot a scene in Pagasa or on the BRP Sierra Madre? China would definitely react to something like that. Perhaps the Palace will act first and prevent such a plan to avoid upsetting China.

The battlefield has shifted from the UN courts to Hollywood films. It seems one would be hard pressed to find an industry with no Chinese presence and the film "Abominable" is just a start. I can imagine franchises like the X-Men, Avengers, Spiderman, and the like will eventually have Chinese references inserted into them. Still, making a stand with regards to that map is laudable. Like the character in the movie, it is fiction.


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