China is dismissing the growing anger over the upcoming “Barbie” movie’s reported decision to feature a map that supports Beijing’s controversial territorial claims.
The summer blockbuster, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is being released later this month but is already being banned in Vietnam for apparently featuring a map showing China’s claims to the South China Sea that many say includes the territory of other nations.
When asked about the controversy during a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was dismissive of Hanoi’s outrage.
“China’s position on the South China Sea issue is clear and consistent,” the official said, adding that Vietnam “should not link the South China Sea issue with normal cultural exchange.”
The nine-dash line shown on the map represents China’s claim to a vast section of the disputed waters, which are also being fought over by Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan.
An international tribunal at The Hague found the Chinese Communist Party’s map illegal. Beijing dismissed the ruling at the time.
The map’s inclusion in “Barbie” underscores the growing controversy over Hollywood’s reliance on China, which has rivaled the U.S. for its biggest market in recent years. Critics of the movie industry have accused studio executives of ignoring Beijing’s human rights abuses for the sake of selling films there.
The latest fallout over “Barbie” and Warner Bros. also spurred criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Cruz retweeted American Foreign Policy Council fellow Michael Sobolik’s attack on the Warner Bros. film that accused the movie giant of “bend[ing] the knee to the genocidal CCP regime to make a buck.”
“I guess ‘Barbie’ is made in China…” the senator added.
Lawmakers in the Philippines have also signaled disapproval of the nine-dash line map’s reported inclusion, signaling their country could follow suit in limiting the movie’s reach.
“If the invalidated nine-dash line was indeed depicted in the movie ‘Barbie,’ then it is incumbent upon the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board of the Philippines to ban the same as it denigrates Philippine sovereignty,” Philippines Senator Francis Tolentino told CNN Philippines.