Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn Margot Robbie, who plays the titular character, at the world premiere of Barbie. July 9, 2023, at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Credit: Chris Pizzello via AP Photos In this summer’s most eagerly-anticipated blockbuster, Barbie, the eponymous heroine and her beau Ken travel from their homes in Barbie Land to the human realm. In a surprising twist, the movie’s pink-hued plastic protagonists have created a real-world geopolitical controversy along the way. An image from the movie’s trailer shows Margot Robbie, playing Barbie, standing in front of a world map on which two curved broken lines are drawn next to a land mass labeled ‘Asia’. Those markings have alarmed viewers in Southeast Asia, who see them as representing the so-called ‘nine-dash line’ — a visual shorthand for Beijing’s heavily disputed claims over territory across the South China Sea. That alarm has provoked a response in countries concerned about China’s ambitions: in 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague unanimously rejected the nine-dash line map, declaring Beijing’s claims illegal. Vietnam’s cinema regulator has banned BarbieSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.