TV show axed over maritime dispute

A still from the show Shanghai Bund. Source: YouTube

A Vietnamese broadcaster has stopped showing a drama series from China after several Chinese actors condemned last week’s UN International Court’s decision rejecting Chinese’s ambitious claims to the South China Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on the case lodged by the Philippines saying that China’s “nine-dash line”, which claims around 80 per cent of the sea, was illegal and breached Philippine sovereign rights.

“Due to some objective reasons related to several Chinese actors criticising the court’s ruling on the nine-dash line and to show clear views of a mouthpiece under the Communist Party and the state, Binh Thuan TV announces the suspension of broadcasting of Shanghai Bund,” a presenter from the announcer said.

“Shanghai Bund” is a remake of the 1980 Hong Kong TV series “The Bund”, starring Huang Xiaoming, who spoke out in support for his nation’s maritime claims. State-run Binh Thuan TV is based in the southern province of Binh Thuan.

The Chinese authorities called the international ruling a farce and Chinese celebrities have spoken up against the court’s ruling.

The actors’ comments have been widely shared online.

Vietnamese border officials are now refusing to stamp new Chinese passports featuring the nine-dash line.

Tuoi Tre News reported that holders of these passports were being issued with a separate on-arrival visa to avoid inadvertently recognising the Chinese claim.

Any passport stamped by mistake would be stamped “void” upon the visitor’s next arrival in Vietnam.

Last week, the Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague ruled in the case lodged by the Philippines that the Chinese line was illegal and breached Manila’s territorial rights. China refuses to recognise the ruling.

About 20 protesters were arrested in Hanoi on Sunday while holding a demonstration against China’s refusal to accept the ruling.

They had gathered at the capital’s Hoan Kiem Lake but were met by a heavy police presence who stopped vehicles from accessing the area. The protest was organised by No-U group in Hanoi, which opposes Chinese expansion. Hanoi has clamped down on similar protests before, fearing they could stir dissent.

Hanoi welcomed the ruling although it is unclear whether it will launch a similar legal challenge to the growing Chinese presence near its coastline.

The UN tribunal said the Chinese had violated international maritime law, specifically the Philippines’ maritime rights by building up artificial islands that destroyed coral reefs and by preventing Philippine fishing and oil exploration.