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China’s scheming tricks for the "nine-dash line" propaganda

http   com.ft.imagepublish.prod.s3.amazonawsFor a long time, Chinese authorities and media have used every means to propagate its irrational "nine-dash line" claim in the South China Sea. We may still remember that 10 years ago, after sending the "nine-dash line" map to the United Nations in 2009, China started to actively propagate this irrational claim.

In 2012, China printed the "nine-dash line" in the passports of Chinese citizens, which faced strong opposition from other countries. The Philippines and Vietnam have refused to stamp visas on China's electronic passports and granted stapled visas instead.

China has spent great money to finance and bribe publishers, television channels, and websites to include a "nine-dash line" map in some of their publications, sponsored a number of international and regional conferences, meetings, trade fairs to circulate the "nine-dash line" publications. Recently, US sports channel ESPN posted a China map with a "nine-dash line" in an American basketball program in China.

Chinese tourism or entertainment companies often bring publications with a "nine-dash line" map to tourism fairs and distribute them to travel companies from other countries. At Ho Chi Minh City International Tourism Fair in August 2019, Vietnamese authorities discovered leaflets with a "nine-dash line" map provided by Hola China. All these publications were then destroyed.

China also finances scientific journals and scientists in other countries to disseminate the "nine-dash line". Since 2017, the number of scientific articles with the “nine-dash line” map has reached thousands. China also sends international scholars to seminars and workshops on the South China Sea to propagate for the "nine-dash line".

Moreover, China has printed the map with "nine-dash line" on clothes of Chinese tourists traveling to other countries. In May 2018, dozens of Chinese tourists to Vietnam wearing t-shirts with the "nine-dash" map on them showed up at Cam Ranh Airport, and were requested by airport authorities to change their t-shirts before making entry into Vietnam.

China even has the "nine-dash line" printed on the calendars, items, bags, souvenirs for tourists, cardboard boxes of goods and fruits to be exported to other countries.

More dangerously, China finances major film studios to integrate "nine-dash line" map into movies. In 2018, China's movie “Red Sea Agent” was screened widely in Vietnam until audiences found a part of the movie saying that the South China Sea belongs to China.

Most recently, the animated film “Abominable” (the Vietnamese name: “Everest - the little snowman”), a collaboration between China's Pearl Studio and DreamWorks Animation, featured a map with the "nine-dash line" which has caused great discontent for many countries. Vietnam has banned the movie. Malaysia first requested to remove the map, but the producer disagreed so the Malaysia also banned the movie.

The aforementioned incidents happened one after another, showing that China has taken many "quiet and sly" steps to propagate its "nine-dash line" claim in the South China Sea. These actions of China have gradually led people toward a misleading view on the waters of coastal countries in the South China Sea.

China's "nine-dash line" claim in the South China Sea has been rejected by the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea case initiated by the Philippines as having no legal basis - i.e. illegal – on July 12, 2016. As a result, many experts may question whether the US media outlets are unknowingly or deliberately promoting China's irrational sovereignty claim in the South China Sea.

Responding to this question, as some people suggest, there may be some cases of confusion or mistakes, but also many cases of intentional attempts were due to “China’s bribe”.

In the case of American sports channel ESPN, the show of the map of China with "nine-dash line" on the channel has been rectified. A spokesperson for the US sports channel, though not commenting, implied a brief news report on October 10 in US newspaper Sports Business Daily Issues which says that ESPN had "mistakenly used" the map. In response to the disgruntled reactions to the display of "nine-dash" map, the ESPN channel did not comment on the controversial use of graphics, but earlier in Scott Van Pelt's Sports Center program on ESPN, a completely different map of China, without the "nine-dash line" map, was shown. This may be an act of correction by the ESPN channel, demonstrating its unintentional use of the wrong map.

In the case of the animated film “Abominable” (the Vietnamese name “Everest - the little snowman”) showing the "nine-dash line", many analysts consider this an intentional act of Dreamworks as one of China’s partners. It is hard to think that putting the “nine-dash line” map in “Abominable” was a mistake made by the producer. As the first Hollywood animation that features characters from a Chinese family today, the film is a collaboration between American studio DreamWorks and Chinese Shanghai-based production company Pearl Studio owned by China Media Capital, an influential Chinese investor who aspires to build a global media empire.

The “Abominable” was meticulously designed to suit Chinese audiences: even the conversations were translated into Chinese in such a way that the lip sync would match the original English scripts and visual details were made to best fit the reality in China. Given the level of such attention to details, it is much likely that the decision to include the Chinese map with the “nine-dash line” into the film was carefully calculated.

China is currently focusing all of its efforts on spreading nationalist message across the border by propaganda. In this case, China utilizes business partnerships to propagate its "nine-dash line" claim in the South China Sea.

Perhaps due to a lack of understanding or concerns on sovereignty disputes related to the "nine-dash line" in the South China Sea, some foreign businesses have become accomplices with State-sponsored Chinese businesses, sharing their nationalist views. Naturally, these foreign enterprises abetted China's misconduct.

China's tactics to propagate the “nine-dash line” are very sophisticated and dangerous. With a nationalist, aggressive and hegemonic view, China said that "repeated statement will gradually earn acceptance". Keeping that in mind, China has not spared any tricks, including the misconducts, to propagate its irrational claims in the South China Sea. China has, for a long time, doing this practice.

This requires the countries concerned in the South China Sea disputes to pay close attention and to promote counterpropaganda against misrepresentation and distortion in Chinese propaganda. The strength of small coastal countries in the South China Sea lies in international law, so it is necessary to uphold the rule of law, promptly exposing dangerous tricks in China's way of propaganda so that the international community can understand the nature of the issue and together raise their voices against China's wrongful actions and propaganda.

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