Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) expressed his pent-up frustrations towards the upcoming “Barbie” film, scheduled for release on July 21, alleging that it contains elements that he and his office referred to as “Chinese communist propaganda.”
The movie, featuring renowned Australian actress Margot Robbie and Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, faced backlash due to its portrayal of islands in the South China Sea.
These islands have been a subject of contention between Vietnam and China and have been the backdrop for two distinct military conflicts in 1974 and 1988. Critics argued that the film took a pro-China stance regarding this sensitive issue.
In 2016, a United Nations court reached the verdict that China’s territorial claim to the mentioned areas lacked a basis in international law.
Due to its inclusion of a map indicating China’s control over the Paracel and Spratly Islands, as denoted by the long-standing geographical symbol known as the “nine-dash line,” the screening of the movie has been banned in Vietnam.
On Monday, Cruz persisted in his critique of the movie’s pro-China position, expressing his viewpoint through the following tweet, “I guess Barbie is made in China…”
I guess Barbie is made in China…. https://t.co/CDB1IzZcvm
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 3, 2023
One of Cruz’s representatives made a statement to the press, saying, “China wants to control what Americans see, hear and ultimately think, and they leverage their massive film markets to coerce American companies into pushing Chinese Communist Party propaganda—just like the way the ‘Barbie’ film seems to have done with the map.”
For years, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia have actively contested China’s claims to the region and its forceful policies.
Donald Rothwell, an international law professor at the Australian National University, wrote, “China has built artificial islands in the South China Sea, harassed foreign naval and military aircraft passing through the region, intimidated Vietnamese and other foreign fishermen, asserted rights to explore and exploit maritime oil and gas reserves and continued to publish maps depicting the nine-dash line claim.”
The energy-rich corridor has been subject to territorial claims by other countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia, which Rothwell contends is important to acknowledge.
He said, “This is why any legitimacy given to the nine-dash line, even in Hollywood movies, is so sensitive.”