U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has voiced concerns about the new “Barbie” movie, accusing it of supporting Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

The controversy arose after a preview of the film depicted a controversial map of the South China Sea with the disputed nine-dash line. Retweeting an article first posted by a senior fellow from the American Foreign Policy Council, Micheal Sobank, Cruz described the “Barbie” movie as being “made in China.”


The map with the nine-dash line in the trailer may seem insignificant, but the dispute over the South China Sea and the nine-dash line has been a long-standing issue. The U-shaped nine-dash line is exclusive to Chinese maps and encompasses vast parts of the South China Sea. But according to international law, countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan have disputed territories and seabed rights within this area.

In 2016, following disputes between the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan, the United Nations ruled China’s claim over the nine-dash line “unlawful.” Despite this ruling, China has continued to exercise military power in the territory by constructing islands and dispatching naval ships in the territorial waters.

China’s actions have drawn international criticism.

“[China] has built artificial islands in the South China Sea, harassed foreign naval and military aircraft passing through the region, intimidated Vietnamese and other foreign fishermen, asserted rights to explore and exploit maritime oil and gas reserves, and continued to publish maps depicting the nine-dash line claim,” said Donald Rothwell, an international law professor at Australian National University, in an article for The Conversation.

The Infamous Map

The inclusion of the nine-dash line in “Barbie” has resulted in Vietnam banning the film from domestic distribution. Originally scheduled to premiere in Vietnam on July 21, Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Vietnam National Department of Cinema, disapproved of the movie.

“We do not grant a license for the American movie ‘Barbie’ to release in Vietnam,” Thanh said. “[The movie] contains the offending image of the nine-dash line.”

Moreover, Vietnam has a history of banning Chinese-sympathizing movies. Notably, Vietnam banned the film “Uncharted” in 2022 for similar reasons.

“This is why any legitimacy given to the nine-dash line, even in Hollywood movies, is so sensitive,” Rothwell said.

The movie has also received significant criticism in the United States for including the nine-dash line. A Cruz representative asserted that China’s intentions with the movie are to control American media.

“China wants to control what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think, and they leverage their massive film markets to coerce American companies into pushing [Chinese Communist Party] propaganda — just like the way the ‘Barbie’ film seems to have done with the map,” the representative told the New York Post.

Nonetheless, “Barbie” producers at Warner Bros. Studios said the map means nothing and only acts as a guide to the “real world” in the movie.

“The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing,” a spokesperson for the Warner Bros. Film Group told Variety. “The doodles depict Barbie’s make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the ‘real world.’ It was not intended to make any type of statement.”

What Next?

The controversy surrounding “Barbie” highlights the United States’ concerns about Chinese propaganda infiltrating Hollywood. As Texas Scorecard has previously reported, the CCP has had an extensive reach in both U.S. and Texas affairs, from local sheriff elections to foreign land acquisition.

“Barbie” is set to premiere July 21.

Matthew DeLaCruz

Matthew DeLaCruz is a Cedar Park native and is a sophomore journalism and mass communications major at Abilene Christian University. Matthew is a summer writing fellow at Texas Scorecard and loves bringing relevant stories to citizens. When he is not writing, you can catch Matthew lifting weights, playing basketball and eating ice cream with his friends.