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Manila Orders Netflix: Take Down 'Pine Gap' Episodes With China Nine-Dash Map

Stop normalizing illegal claims, DFA says.
by Joel Guinto
Nov 2, 2021
Photo/s: Handout/AFP

(UPDATE) Philippine authorities ordered Netflix to pull out episodes of the political drama "Pine Gap" that showed the so-called nine-dash map used by China to enforce its vast claims in the South China Sea, the foreign ministry in Manila said Tuesday.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board relayed the instruction to the streaming giant, acting on a complaint filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, which said showing the map violated Philippine sovereignty

Netflix is "expected to comply with the ruling," the DFA said. As of Tuesday morning, episodes two and three of the series were no longer available with a note that they were "removed by government demand". 

Screenshot from Netflix

"Pine Gap" tells the story of a joint defense unit set up by the U.S. and Australia where "spies work with, and against each other," according to Netflix. In the real world, it parallels efforts by U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to counter China's growing assertiveness at sea.

In 2016, the Philippines won a landmark case against China before a UN-backed court that invalidated the nine-dash line. Beijing refused to recognize it, and newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte at that time refused to flaunt in favor of closer ties with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

It was Duterte's predecessor, the late President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who initiated the arbitration case against China.

ALSO READ: Before Noynoy Aquino Sued China, He Tried to Be Its Friend

The MTRCB, according to the DFA, informed Netflix of Manila's "whole of nation approach" in enforcing its claims against China.

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"Pine Gap" portrayed the nine-dash map as if "it legitimately exists", the DFA said. "Such protrayal is a crafty attempt to perpetuate and memorialize in the consciousness of the present generation of viewers and the generations to come the illegal nine-dash line."

Shaped like a cow's tongue, China said the nine-dash line or map showed that it had a historic claim to almost the entire South China Sea, overlapping with the entitlements of the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore under international law.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of UNCLOS, the Philippines' exclusive economic zone extends to reefs and features where China continues to patrol and harass Filipino fishermen and where it built fortresses over previously uninhabited reefs.

The Philippines also renamed waters within its EEZ as the West Philippine Sea, dropping the name South China Sea, which refers to the larger body of water that straddles Southeast Asia and southern China.



Why It's Called West Philippine Sea, Not South China Sea

Think Galunggong: Why the West Philippine Sea is a Gut Issue 

China's Poop-Dumping in the West Philippine Sea, Explained

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