China bans Pooh on so­cial me­dia

CityPress - - News -

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

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