All references to Winnie the Pooh in Chinese were removed from the Chinese social network Sina Weibo and the WeChat messenger . When you try to write a character’s name on Weibo, a warning appears that the user mentions “illegal content.”
The Financial Times newspaper noted that the campaign to ban the hero Alan Milne is associated with the comparison of the teddy bear with the country’s leader Xi Jinping, which is popular in China. Although there are no official comments on this topic, the publication believes that on the eve of the XIX Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the authorities are trying to avoid any hint of criticism of the leadership and even remove harmless collages.
For the first time, Xi Jinping was compared to Winnie the Pooh in 2013 during a meeting with Barack Obama at a summit in the United States. The collage was made by Chinese bloggers, after which it acquired viral popularity and was subsequently removed by censors from controlled social networks.
Despite the ban, the Chinese leader could not get rid of the comparison – users of social networks subsequently repeatedly looked for pictures of Winnie the Pooh, which would be similar to Xi Jinping’s photos.
The greatest popularity gained Photo Jinping, standing in the car with the open top of the parade in 2015, which is published by Weibo Diuz. The company Global Risk Insights called it “the most censored image of 2015”. Before the censors removed the photo, more than 65 thousand users had time to share it.
Qiao Mu, a professor at the Beijing Institute of International Studies, told the Financial Times that the level of censorship in China had reached such a level that there were cases when comment authors were arrested for criticizing a national leader in social networks. Winnie the Pooh became, therefore, only part of the overall trend, the professor stressed.