(MANILA) Philippine censorship authorities said on Wednesday they had allowed US blockbuster Barbie to be shown in theaters on the condition that the Hollywood distributor blur a card appearing to espouse contentious Chinese claims to the South China Sea.

The Hollywood comedy about the famous doll, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is due out in the Southeast Asian country on July 19.

After reviewing the film twice and consulting with foreign affairs officials and legal experts, the government’s Film and TV Screening and Classification Commission said it would allow the film to be screened.

Filipino censors began scrutinizing Barbie last week, after the film was banned in Vietnam due to scenes featuring a map, which appears to appear “the nine-dotted line,” which China uses to substantiate its contentious territorial claims. in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, where other Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims.

But after viewing the film “meticulously”, Filipino censors said the “cartoon map” did not represent “the nine-dotted line” but the route of Barbie’s imaginary journey into the “real world”, explained the censorship committee in a press release.

“Rest assured that the board has exhausted all possible resources to reach this decision, as we have not hesitated in the past to sanction filmmakers, producers and distributors for showing ‘the nine-dotted line’ fictitious in their documents,” the commission pointed out.

In a separate letter to a Filipino senator who criticized the film for “violating the rights of Filipino fishermen”, the censors said they asked Hollywood studio Warner Bros to “blur” the controversial dotted lines on the map.

Dotted lines drawn “like a child” appear in several places on the map of territories meant to represent Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia, the authorities said. censors.

The censor board found only eight dotted lines on the map that was supposed to draw “Asia.”

“Additionally, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are not visible on the map,” the commission said in the same letter, dated July 11 and released to the press.

Contacted by AFP, Warner Bros did not respond immediately.

But a studio spokesperson, quoted by Variety, said the card was a “child-like colored pencil drawing” and “not intended to make any statement.” .