Abominable: A DreamWorks movie, a map, and a huge regional row

Malaysian censors have ordered a scene to be cut from DreamWorks film Abominable before it is screened there – because of a brief glimpse of a map.

It is the third South East Asian country to take offence at the scene in the film, a Chinese co-production.

The contentious map shows the “nine-dash line”, which China uses to show its claims in the South China Sea.

Parts of the sea and various island groups are claimed by five other Asian countries, as well as China.

Vietnam has already pulled the movie – while Philippine politicians are calling for a DreamWorks boycott.

It might be merely a backdrop in an animated movie – but it shines a spotlight on one of the world’s hottest territorial disputes.

What is in the scene?

Abominable is an animated children’s movie which actually has nothing to do with the South China Sea.

It’s about a Chinese girl from Shanghai who discovers a yeti on her roof, strikes up a friendship with him, and – against all odds – manages to take him back to Mount Everest.

The girl, Yi, has a makeshift shed on the roof of the high-rise where she lives. In that shed, there’s a big map of East Asia on the wall, with pictures and notes pinned to it.

And it shows the South China Sea – with a series of lines marking what’s known as China’s nine-dash line.

What is the nine-dash line?

The South China Sea is a strategically important region, rich in potential natural resources and fishing grounds, and lying between several influential countries.

China says it has always controlled a large chunk of this territory. The nine-dash line carves out by far the largest portion – leaving only a small coastal strip to each of the other claimants.

In 1947, China issued a map detailing its claims, and insists history backs up its claims.

Related Articles