MANILA — A movie scene featuring a map that shows Beijing's sweeping claims to the South China Sea should be removed instead of banning the film from local cinemas, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday.
Vietnam, which like the Philippines claims parts of the resource-rich waterway, earlier pulled the animated film "Abominable" from theaters due to the controversial scene.
"Of course they should cut out the offending scene which will show our displeasure better than if we unconstitutionally ban it as some suggest," Locsin wrote in bold letters on Twitter.
The scene should be removed "crudely" and perhaps interject the head of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board "with a hectoring lecture", he said.
The map in the scene featured Beijing's U-shaped "9-dash line", which it has often invoked as a supposed historical justification to the South China Sea, a key global shipping route.
"Abominable", which is about a Chinese teenager helping a yeti return to his home, is a joint production from DreamWorks and China's Pearl Studio.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said it is up to government censors if they will also pull the movie from Philippine cinemas.
President Rodrigo Duterte has largely set aside the Philippines' row with Beijing over the key waterway to court trade and investments, but also occasionally criticized China's actions there.
Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam also have partial claims to the waterway, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year. With a report from Agence France-Presse