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Vietnam Punishes Volkswagen for Car With Disputed China Map

(Bloomberg) -- Vietnam will fine Volkswagen AG’s local distributor and an importer for showcasing a car with a navigation app reflecting Chinese territorial claims rejected by Hanoi.

VW Vietnam Auto Co. faces a penalty of 20 million to 40 million dong ($860-$1,724), while World Auto Co. will be fined 40 million-60 million dong and suspended from operating for six to nine months, the General Department of Vietnam Customs said in a statement on its website. The model, a Touareg CR745J, was displayed at a motor show in Ho Chi Minh City last month.

Southeast Asian countries have clashed with China over maritime claims in the region, where Beijing’s so-called nine-dash-line encompasses waters the U.S. has said could contain unexploited hydrocarbons worth $2.5 trillion. Vietnam and China fought a war along their land border in 1979.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry & Trade on Tuesday ordered its local units to step up inspections of imported goods that contain images or information of the nine-dash line. The ministry said cases of companies or importers found to sell, display or introduce products featuring the line are “very serious” as they hurt national security and sovereignty, and violate the law.

Last month, Vietnam ordered cinemas to halt screenings of DreamWorks Animation’s “Abominable” because it showed the nine-dash-line on a map. There were also calls for a DreamWorks boycott in the Philippines and the movie was withdrawn from a scheduled debut in Malaysia. Another automobile importer was told last month to remove navigation apps that showed Chinese territorial claims.

Uproar Over ‘Abominable’ Movie’s Map of China Spreads in Asia

A representative from VW Vietnam Auto declined to comment on the statement from the customs administration. VnExpress news website on Oct. 29 cited the distributor’s general director as saying the vehicle was showcased due to carelessness on its part.

(Updates with statement from trade ministry in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mai Ngoc Chau in Ho Chi Minh City at cmai9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Boudreau at jboudreau3@bloomberg.net, Will Davies

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