Internet censorship is not new for the Chinese Government but the latest crackdown from Beijing is targeted at a certain chubby cartoon bear.
While he may be known around the world as the beloved children’s book character, Winnie the Pooh is off limits in China, according to The Guardian.
Searches for the AA Milne character appeared to be blocked on social networks in China, raising the question of exactly what could provoke the blacklisting of a harmless children’s book bear.
So Winnie the Pooh is censored in China because he looks like President Xi Jinping. I’d take it as a compliment. https://t.co/NhgLFjjhIG
— Rim-Sarah Alouane (@RimSarah) July 17, 2017
It seems Winnie the Pooh’s comparison to Chinese President Xi Jinping has rankled the highly sensitive in China’s ruling Communist party.
According to The Guardian:
Posts bearing the image and the Chinese characters for Winnie the Pooh were still permitted on the Weibo social media platform on Monday. 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.
Social media apparently began circulating photos back in 2013 comparing President Xi with former President Obama to Winnie the Pooh walking with Tigger.
— Yuan Yang (@YuanfenYang) July 16, 2017
Then in 2014, a picture of President Xi shaking hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe launched another comparison which made the rounds on social media.
— Josh Chin 李肇华 (@joshchin) November 10, 2014
The political analysis portal, Global Risk Insights, reported that a photo of President Xi standing up through a car sunroof was “China’s most censored photo” of the year in 2015.
— Fenella Sung (@FenellaSung1) January 8, 2016
The New York Times reported that the censorship did not appear to be consistent as users of the Twitter-like site, Weibo, were still able to write Pooh posts and upload images on Monday. However, error messages resulted when attempts were made to add comments on existing posts that included the term Winnie the Pooh.
The crackdown comes ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, set for the fall, as Xi attempts to consolidate power, the Guardian reported.
Apparently, he doesn’t want to leave any room for challenges to his authority, not even from a chubby bear.
Reactions from Twitter users ranged from outrage to humor and even sadness that the lovable Pooh could be censored.
I log into Twitter and the first news article I see is “China censors Winnie the Pooh because of meme.” What a time to be alive.
— Kira Buckland ★ (@rinachan) July 17, 2017
Damn you Pooh! How many times have I told you, stop trying to overthrow the communist government in China!
— ~redacted~ (@TheRedactedOne) July 17, 2017
Obviously this is an insult to Winnie the Pooh.
— Steven Jacobs (@StevenSJacobsCA) July 17, 2017
the president should be honoured Pooh bear is the kindest lovable peaceful honey loving bear in the whole wide world
— Melody Moon (@buddyholly1111) July 18, 2017
Some people don’t know humor!
— Rooma (@romanaxeeshan) July 18, 2017
Also this. pic.twitter.com/Y3BfRqHSIF
— Scott Rüegg (@scottruegg) July 18, 2017
I’m not shocked about China banning Winnie the Pooh. He’s been in public without pants for generations.
Someone had to draw the line.
— Corey Graves (@WWEGraves) July 18, 2017
For being the new world leader, China played amateur hour on this one. Now the world will call him Pooh Bear. #SilenceisGolden
I’m laughing so hard to this! Who’s Xi Jinping? and who says he looks like Pooh? There’s NOTHING as cute as Pooh in this world! 😅🍯
— Fibrya (@eebbiik) July 18, 2017
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