South China Sea: Netflix scrambles to remove spy show amid Vietnam sovereignty complaint

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Netflix was forced to remove an Australian spy series in Vietnam following a request to pull the show by the country’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI). The organisation demanded the removal of Pine Row over scenes containing maps of the South China Sea seemingly recognising Beijing’s claims over the area. The South China Sea has long been a hot spot of contention between China, Vietnam, the Philippines and four other sovereign nations in the area.

The ABEI said the six-episode drama had “violated the country’s sovereignty over sea and islands”.

They added: “Netflix’s violations have hurt feelings and caused outrage among the entire Vietnamese people.”

The Vietnamese agency also said Netflix had been found in violation of its policy at least three times over the past year because of the distribution of “movies and TV shows containing content which violates Vietnam’s sovereignty”.

The Chinese rom-com ‘Put Your Head on My Shoulder” and the US political drama ‘Madam Secretary’ were singled out in the statement as examples of the alleged violation of Vietnamese sovereignty.

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Netflix confirmed on Friday Pine Gap would be no longer available in Vietnam.

In a statement released by the US content platform, Netflix said: “Following a written legal demand from the Vietnamese regulator, we have removed the licensed series, Pine Gap, from Netflix in Vietnam, to comply with local law.

“It remains available on our service in the rest of the world.”

China has long been claiming full sovereignty over the South China Sea citing the unclearly defined demarcation nine-dash-line as the basis for their claim.

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The “nine-dash line” is a U-shaped feature used on Chinese maps to illustrate its disputed claims over vast expanses of the resource-rich South China Sea, including large swathes of what Vietnam regards as its continental shelf, where it has awarded oil concessions.

Vietnam had previously pulled the animated film Abominable for containing a scene featuring a map of the Chinese nine-dash line.

Chinese and Vietnamese ships have in recent years been embroiled in months-long standoffs in the disputed waterways.

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Vietnam launched the new Permanent Maritime Militia Unit in early June in response to growing tensions with Beijing.

The Philippines have also reported an increased issue with Chinese fishing vessels accused of encroaching in Filipino waters at Whitsun Reef in the Spratly Islands.

In June, the head of the Philippine armed forces, Cirilito Sobejana, visited one of the country’s controlled islands, angering Chinese officials.

General Sobejana commended soldiers for protecting the island’s residents and “guarding the country’s territories” in the region.

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