China bans Pooh on social media
Loveable bear Winnie the Pooh has been banned in China – baffling local and international commentators. The country’s officials did not say why Pooh was banned.
Mentions of the fictional anthropomorphic teddy bear online have been deleted, and some say it is because Pooh had been compared to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Pictures of Winnie the Pooh have been banned on Chinese social media in an apparent clampdown on politically sensitive references to the lovable little bear.
The ban came into effect soon after Chinese authorities announced that Canadian pop idol Justin Bieber would not be allowed to perform there because of his “bad behaviour”.
Authorities have deleted online comments referencing Little Bear Winnie – Pooh’s Chinese name. The message that “this content is illegal” pops up if users type the name in.
Stickers and GIFs featuring the bear, the most famous resident of the Hundred Acre Wood, have also been removed from WeChat – a messaging app used by 889 million people in the country.
Some pictures of the bear, which was created by English author AA Milne in the 1920s, and references using his English name are still permitted on the popular Twitter-like platform Weibo.
The bear “of very little brain” has in the past been compared with Xi. The ban comes in the run-up to China’s 19th national Communist Party congress.
Historically, two things have not been allowed ahead of the congress: political organising and political action. But this year, a third has been added to the list: talking about the president.
The removals come as the Chinese government steps up its clampdown on politically sensitive online material. The congress, during which China’s top politicians in the governing Communist Party and Politburo, its main policymaking committee, are elected, happens once every five years. This year’s congress will be held in Beijing in the next few months.
Chinese social-media users have been testing the boundaries imposed on Milne’s lovable creation.
“Poor Little Winnie,” one Weibo user wrote. “What did this adorable honey-loving bear ever do to provoke anyone?”
In 2013, a similar ban was imposed in response to a popular comparison of a photo of Xi and the then US president Barack Obama with a picture of Pooh and his energetic friend Tigger.
The following year, a photographed handshake between Xi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe faced similar treatment, with Winnie the Pooh and the depressed donkey Eeyore shaking hands.
The first collection of stories about the character was the book called Winnie-the-Pooh published in 1926, which was followed by The House at Pooh Corner, which was published in 1928.
Milne named the character Winnie the Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who was the basis for the human character in Milne’s stories.
– The Express, agencies