Netflix removes spy drama episodes in Philippines after backlash over China map

·2-min read
Pine Gap  (Netflix)
Pine Gap (Netflix)

Netflix has removed two episodes of spy drama Pine Gap from its service in the Philippines following backlash over scenes featuring a disputed map.

The scenes in question involve a map that depicts Chinese claims in the the South China Sea.

On Monday, the Southeast Asian country asked the streamer to remove certain episodes of the six-part Australian drama on the grounds that the map was a violation of the Philippines’s sovereignty.

Shortly after, the second and third episodes of Pine Gap were no longer available on Netflix’s streaming service in the country.

Netflix said the episodes were removed following “government demand” but did not elaborate further.

China lays claim to the resource-rich waters within the U-shaped nine-dash line appearing on Chinese maps. Parts of the South China Sea are also contested by Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei. and Malaysia.

This controversial map appears on screen in two episodes of Pine Gap, which is set inside the control room of a spy base. It appears within the context of maritime claims in the region.

The Philippines’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the country’s films board has ruled that certain portions of the show were “unfit for public exhibition”.

The films board delivered its ruling on 28 September, citing the DFA’s statement.

Furthermore, the DFA said the board believed the appearance of the Chinese map was “no accident as it was consciously designed and calculated to specifically convey a message that China’s nine-dash line legitimately exists”.

The DFA added that the country’s films board is of the view that “such portrayal is a crafty attempt to perpetuate and memorialise in the consciousness of the present generation of viewers and the generations to come the illegal nine-dash line”.

In July 2021, Netflix was forced to pull the spy drama from its offerings in Vietnam after the country’s broadcasting authorities also objected to displaying the heavily contested map.

In a statement posted to its website, the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information said: “Netflix’s violations angered and hurt the feelings of the entire people of Vietnam.”

The statement, dated 1 July, also read: “This is the third time in a row in the last 12 months that Netflix has been found to distribute movies and TV shows containing content which violate Vietnam’s sovereignty.”

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