China bans Win­nie the Pooh

Tempo - - News -

BEI­JING, China (AFP) – 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 self-de­scribed “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 Mon­day.

But com­ments ref­er­enc­ing “Lit- tle 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.

The rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party is highly sen­si­tive to com­i­cal de­pic­tions of its leader, par­tic­u­larly as Xi at­tempts to con­sol­i­date power ahead of a key party congress later this year.

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