Vietnamese theaters have pulled out DreamWorks animated film “Abominable” after viewers noticed scenes featuring China’s invalidated nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. | Photo screengrabbed from Youtube/DreamWorksTV

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday, October 15, called for a “universal boycott” of the animated film “Abominable” due to the appearance of China’s nine-dash line in one of the scenes.

In a Twitter conversation with Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, Locsin said: “What about cutting out that scene? You’re a lawyer, on what ground can we ban — and which agency has that power — an implicit message, assuming any Filipino will assert his First Amendment right in the case? For me, call a universal boycott of all Dreamworks productions from here on.”

In 2016, an arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim. China, however, refused to acknowledge said ruling.

Apart from the Philippines, other countries that have claims in the South China Sea are Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam, which recently pulled out the film from cinemas.

“Abominable,” a joint production by Dreamworks and China’s Pearl Studio, tells the story of a Chinese teenager helping a yeti return to his home.

“Agree this is a slippery slope, but think we should push back vs. CN propaganda tactics nonetheless,” Batongbacal replied.

“MTRCB [Movie and Television Review and Classification Board] technically has power to require deletion of objectionable portions of films for reasons that include being ‘injurious to the prestige of the Rep. of the Philippines or its people’ (PD 1986, sec. 3, para. c) (which) is what this does if we quietly allow it to be shown without some form of protest,” he added.

According to Batongbacal, if “Abominable” were “allowed to be shown without offending portion” then a “call for boycott should still be made as a strong statement against such tactics.” 

“Also so as to not contribute to CN [China’s] coffers by seeing the movie, and send message to U.S. companies partnering with CN propagandists to stop enabling such moves,” he added. 

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