China bans Winnie the Pooh

Ruben Ruiz
July 17, 2017

Has Winnie the Pooh done something to anger China's censors?

Social media users first pointed out a comic likeness between Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Disney's rendering of A.A. Milne's famous character in 2013.

The following year, the comparison was extended to Xi's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was pictured as Eeyore, the sad donkey, alongside the bear. In 2015, according to Global Risk Insights, an image of President Xi standing up through a auto roof during a parade and a children's toy vehicle was the most censored image of the year, prompting the Chinese government to add "Winnie the Pooh" to its internet search blacklist.

The posts comparing President Xi with the cartoon bear is taken down apart from blocking users of WeChat and Weibo, which is China's bigger-than-Twitter microblogging platform from using the name of the affable bear. Meanwhile, animated gifs fearing Pooh vanished from messaging app WeChat.

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Qiao Mu, an independent media studies scholar and former professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the blocked bear content was unsurprising given the ruling Communist Party's sensitivity to depictions of its leader.

The bear's crime is that, in Chinese eyes, he has a striking resemblance to President Xi.

Chinese social media users have long relied on euphemisms such as the Pooh-Xi joke to skirt the country's strict censorship system. A search on Weibo performed by Shanghaiist turned up multiple references made to Winnie the Pooh in recent days, though none having to do with Xi. Yet, the newspaper believes that the move has demonstrated tightening censorship on the eve of the autumn congress of the Communist Party of China, where important changes inside the Chinese leadership are likely to happen.

Other reports by GizPress

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