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.
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.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.
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.
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.