Vietnam TV station drops Chinese drama over South China Sea dispute

HANOI (Reuters) - A provincial Vietnamese TV channel has dropped a Chinese drama series after several Chinese actors condemned a court’s decision that denied Beijing’s vast claims to the South China Sea.

China claims most of the energy-rich waters through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, deciding a case lodged by the Philippines, ruled last week that China’s “nine-dash line” encircling its territory, almost all the South China Sea, was illegal and breached Manila’s sovereign rights.

“Due to some objective reasons related to several Chinese actors criticizing the court’s ruling on the nine-dash line and to show clear views of a mouthpiece under the Communist Party and the State, Binh Thuan TV announces the suspension of broadcasting of ‘Shanghai Bund’,” a station anchor said in a video posted by media.

“Shanghai Bund” is a Chinese television series remake of the 1980 Hong Kong television series “The Bund”, starring Huang Xiaoming, who voiced support for Beijing’s claims. Binh Thuan TV is a state-run station based in the southern province of the same name.

Beijing has called the court ruling a farce and several Chinese celebrities have spoken up against the court’s decision.

Many Vietnamese people have shared the video clip and showed support for the channel.

About 20 Vietnamese were detained on Sunday while trying to hold a protest against China’s rejection of the court decision.

Vietnam has welcomed the ruling, but not said whether it will pursue the same legal path as the Philippines.

Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Nick Macfie