Netflix removes 'Pine Gap' episodes showing China's nine-dash line after PH intervention

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 1) — Netflix on Monday pulled out two episodes of Australian show "Pine Gap" after the Philippine government protested the depiction of China's territory, which violated Philippine sovereignty.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the series showed a map of China's so-called nine-dash line.

In a statement, the DFA said it earlier lodged a complaint with the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, prompting the regulatory body to issue the order on Sept. 28.

"After a thorough review, the Board ruled that certain episodes of 'Pine Gap' are 'unfit for public exhibition.' The MTRCB also ordered the immediate pull-out of relevant episodes by its provider, Netflix Inc., from its video streaming platform," the DFA said.

A check with the popular media service showed that Netflix has complied with the MTRCB's demand and has removed episodes 2 and 3 of the six-part series. The video thumbnails say, "This episode removed by government demand."

The U-shaped "nine-dash line" illustrates China's claims over nearly the entire South China Sea. Based on these expansive claims, parts of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone would be well within Chinese territory.

In a landmark ruling in 2016, a Hague tribunal invalidated the nine-dash demarcation by upholding Manila's position that the claim was excessive and encroached into the Philippines' EEZ. China, however, continues to reject the ruling.

According to the DFA, the MTRCB in its decision noted that the appearance of the said map in Pine Gap "was consciously designed and calculated" to convey the message that the nine-dash line legitimately exists.

"Such portrayal is a crafty attempt to perpetuate and memorialize in the consciousness of the present generation of viewers and the generations to come the illegal nine-dash line," read the department's statement.

It added that in ordering the pullout, the MTRCB stressed the government's responsibility to "counter China's aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea."

"Using the medium of a motion picture is but China's unconventional approach to gain an upper hand in the territorial conflict in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea," the DFA wrote.

Earlier this year, Vietnam also ordered Netflix to remove the Australian show for a similar reason.