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CHINA MAP SPATS

KL orders China map cut from Abominable film as furore widens

Kuala Lumpur 

MALAYSIA'S film censors have ordered a scene removed from the animated movie Abominable, which shows China's "nine-dash line" in the South China Sea, an official said on Thursday, amid growing anger among countries with overlapping claims in the waterway.

The U-shaped line is used on Chinese maps to illustrate its territorial claims over vast expanses of the resource-rich South China Sea, including areas claimed by other countries.

Vietnam pulled the movie from cinemas on Monday, while the Philippines' foreign minister has called for the scene showing the map to be cut and the film boycotted.

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Malaysia's Film Censorship Board said on Thursday it has given the green light for the movie to be screened in cinemas without the scene depicting the map.

"The animated film titled Abominable... has been given approval for screening in Malaysia under the condition that the controversial map is removed from the film," the board's chairman Mohamad Zamberi Abdul Aziz said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters.

The film will be released in Malaysian cinemas on Nov 7.

Abominable, about a Chinese girl who discovers a yeti living on her roof, was jointly produced by Shanghai-based Pearl Studio and Comcast-owned DreamWorks Animation.

Pearl Studio did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Dreamworks could not be reached for comment.

Four South-east Asian countries - Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei - as well as Taiwan contest China's claims in the South China Sea.

Malaysia had been critical of China's South China Sea position, but has been less outspoken recently, especially after China pumped in billions of dollars into infrastructure projects in the country.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said earlier on Thursday that Malaysia needs to boost its naval capabilities to prepare for possible conflict in the South China Sea even as it pursues non-militarisation of the waterway. REUTERS