A row regarding Beijing’s expansive claims in the disputed South China Sea has affected martial-arts film star Jackie Chan’s trip to Vietnam for a charity.

The visit which is due 10 November is for the support of Operation Smile, where children with facial disfigurements are given free surgery.

Thousands of angry Facebook users flooded the charity’s official page after Chan’s visit was announced last week, causing the plans to be cancelled.

Netizens accused Chan of supporting China’s historic justification for its territorial claims in the resource-rich sea, China’s so-called nine-dash line.
The martial artist did not confirm or back that claim.
It has been a long source of tension in the region where countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei compete claims in the waterway that overlaps with China.
Operation Smile asserts that their work is “non-political” and it issued a mea culpa today for failing “to predict the reaction” of Vietnamese public.


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Photo: Screengrab from Instagram

“We are very sorry… Operation Smile will not organise any activities with (Chan’s) involvement” in Vietnam, they said.

On the flashpoint South China Sea issue, Vietname is one of Beijing’s most vocal critics.

Malay Mail reported AFP as saying that deputy spokesperson Ngo Toan Thang repeated its usual proclamation on the sea citing the country’s “full legal basis and true evidence to affirm Vietnam’s sovereignty.”

In the past, Chan has been accused of choosing China over Hong Kong’s democracy protests, calling the unrest in his hometown “sad and depressing.”

In Hong Kong, the comment sparked outrage while in China, where he has a huge fanbase, it was warmly received.

DreamWorks film Abominable was removed from theatres in Hanoi earlier this month over a scene that shows a map with the nine-dash line.

Based on maps from the 1940s, Beijing claims the majority of the South China Sea through vague delineation – the then Republic of China took over islands from Japanese control.

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In Malaysia, Abominable is not being shown either after the distributor did not cut the offensive scene while in Philippines, the country also filed complaints.

This week, Beijing was accused by US of intimidating smaller countries in the South China Sea, a key global fishing route.

For several weeks earlier this year, China sent a survey ship to waters claimed by Vietnam and it also built military installations and manmade islands in the area. /TISG