'Oh, bother': Chi­nese cen­sors can't bear Win­nie the Pooh

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Has Win­nie the Pooh done some­thing to anger China's cen­sors? Some men­tions of the lov­able but dimwit­ted bear with a weak­ness for "hunny" have been blocked on Chi­nese so­cial net­works. Au­thor­i­ties did not ex­plain the clam­p­down, but the self­de­scribed "bear of very lit­tle brain" has been used in the past in a meme com­par­ing him to portly Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. Posts bear­ing the im­age and the Chi­nese char­ac­ters for Win­nie the Pooh were still per­mit­ted on the Twit­ter-like Weibo plat­form yes­ter­day. But com­ments ref­er­enc­ing "Lit­tle Bear Win­nie"-Pooh's Chi­nese name-turned up er­ror mes­sages say­ing the user could not pro­ceed be­cause "this con­tent is il­le­gal."

Win­nie the Pooh stick­ers have also been re­moved from WeChat's of­fi­cial "sticker gallery," but user-gen­er­ated gifs of the bear are still avail­able on the pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing app. Com­par­isons be­tween Xi and Pooh first emerged in 2013, af­ter Chi­nese so­cial me­dia users be­gan cir­cu­lat­ing a pair of pic­tures that placed an im­age of Pooh and his slen­der tiger friend "Tig­ger" be­side a pho­to­graph of Xi walk­ing with then-US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. In 2014, a pho­tographed hand­shake be­tween Xi and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe was matched with an im­age of Pooh grip­ping the hoof of his gloomy don­key friend Eey­ore.

And in 2015, the po­lit­i­cal anal­y­sis por­tal Global Risk In­sights called a pic­ture of Xi stand­ing up through the roof of a pa­rade car paired with an im­age of a Win­nie the Pooh toy car "China's most cen­sored photo" of the year. 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. It is a par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive year as Xi is ex­pected to con­sol­i­date power at a key party congress this fall. "It's very murky what's al­lowed and what isn't, be­cause of­fi­cials never put out state­ments de­scrib­ing pre­cisely what will be cen­sored," Qiao said, not­ing that many Win­nie the Pooh photos were still pro­lif­er­at­ing on the Chi­nese in­ter­net.

In other con­texts, ref­er­ences to the sta­ple Chi­nese break­fast food "baozi" have been taken down for evok­ing the pres­i­dent's nick­name: "Steamed Bun Xi," Qiao said. Yes­ter­day many Chi­nese so­cial me­dia users were test­ing the bound­aries of the re­stric­tions im­posed on the bear who groans "oh, bother" when things don't go his way. "Poor Lit­tle Win­nie," one Weibo user wrote. "What did this adorable honey-lov­ing bear ever do to pro­voke any­one?" — AFP

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