Netflix removes spy drama episodes after Philippines' complaint over China map

MANILA – Netflix Inc removed two episodes of the Pine Gap spy drama from its streaming service in the Philippines after the Southeast Asian country rejected scenes featuring a map used by China to assert claims over the South China Sea.

The Philippines asked Netflix on Monday to remove certain episodes of the six-part Australian series, saying the map featured on the show was a violation of its sovereignty.

The second and third episodes of the show were no longer available in the Philippines until the end of Monday, and Netflix announced on its platform that these episodes have been “removed at the request of the government”. It was not elaborated.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

China claims most of the South China Sea’s waters within what is known as the nine-dash line, a U-shaped feature used on Chinese maps. Parts of the resource-rich waters are also contested by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

After a thorough review, the Filipino Film Classification Authority has ruled that certain episodes of Pine Gap are “unsuitable for public display,” the Foreign Office (DFA) said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Netflix removed Pine Gap from its service in Vietnam following a similar complaint from the country’s broadcasting authorities.

The Filipino Film Committee, which responded to the DFA’s complaint, issued its decision on September 28th. It wasn’t clear why the decision was only now being made public.

The board noted, according to the DFA, that the appearance of the map “was not a coincidence, as it was deliberately designed and calculated specifically to convey a message that China’s nine-dash line legitimately exists.”

The panel believes that “such a representation is a sly attempt to immortalize and perpetuate the illegal nine-dash line in the consciousness of the current generation of viewers and future generations,” said the DFA.

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