That friendly bear isn’t so well-liked by Chinese officials
Small and tubby. A cute nose. An obsessive adoration for honey. What could Winnie the Pooh have possibly done to anger the Chinese Government?
News is circulating that Chinese authorities have blocked mentions of A. A. Milne’s lovable bear Winnie the Pooh on social networks. The charming but dim-witted fictional character may seem harmless to most (because he actually is), but to the Communist Party of China, he’s an online threat.
Although officials did not explain the clampdown on posts referring to Winnie the Pooh, images of the children’s book character have previously been used in memes comparing him to the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to the dismay of the government. A little harmless fun taken way too seriously, perhaps.
As the country’s online activity is subjected to robust censorship, this latest move could signify a more extreme approach to tackling clever bloggers who work around the system. A trend swept the Chinese blogosphere back in 2013 when images of Winnie the Pooh began to circulate as a euphemism for communism and the president, and it continues to thrive today.
The first Winnie the Pooh references emerged after Xi met with former US president Barack Obama, prompting social media comedians to point out their difference in weight. A picture of chubby Pooh next to his thin friend Tigger was used alongside a picture of the pair, poking fun at the Chinese leader’s clearly indulgent appetite. Maybe it’s time to lay off the big meals and get to the gym, hey?
In 2014, Xi was pictured shaking hands with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, once again equipping the keyboard commentators with ammunition for more, let’s face it, hilarious memes. This time, the world leaders were fictionalised as Pooh holding the hoof of his miserable friend Eeyore. Comedy gold.
And the following year, a political analysis group found that a photograph of Xi standing up through a roof in a car paired with an image of Pooh in a toy car was China’s most censored photo of 2015.
Humorous depictions of the president are not taken lightly, particularly as Xi is currently working to hold power in the lead-up to a crucial party congress later this year. Singing for his honey, if you will.