A television station in southeastern Vietnam’s coastal Binh Thuan province has dropped a Chinese series partway through its run, citing actors’ criticisms of an international court ruling rejecting Beijing’s exclusive claims to the South China Sea.
The series, Shanghai Bund, was abruptly canceled at 11:50 a.m. on July 16 in order to uphold the views of Vietnam’s own ruling party in the station’s role as government “mouthpiece,” according to a report the same day by the Vietnamese paper Dat Viet.
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in a case brought by the Philippines that China has no right to resources within a U-shaped, nine-dash demarcation line used by Beijing to claim almost the entire South China Sea.
Some of the world’s busiest sea lanes traverse the South China Sea, called the East Sea by Vietnam, which is also a rich fishing ground and may contain petroleum reserves under the sea bed.
Actors in the popular show had recently defended China’s claims in a petition criticizing the court’s ruling, “and we saw that we should no longer promote those actors, so we decided to suspend the series,” station vice director Dang Thi Kim Oanh told Dat Viet.
“When they assert China’s U-shaped line, they are saying that Vietnam is wrong [to defend its own sovereignty in the Sea],” Oanh said, adding, “They have every right to love their own country, but so do we.”
In a review aired before the suspension was announced, station staff summarized the remaining episodes of Shanghai Bund for their viewers, and a South Korean television series will now be aired in its place, she said.
The Vietnamese station’s move turns the tables on China, where the state-backed Communist Youth League and nationalistic netizens frequently mount shaming campaigns or boycotts against celebrities from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and Western countries when they have made statements that reject or criticize Beijing’s policies.
In the latest such case, American-Japanese actress Kiko Mizuhara was pressed to issue a videotaped apology after she triggered a firestorm of Chinese criticism for "liking" a photo on social media deemed offensive to Beijing.
Reported by RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.