Honey-loving resident of the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh, has apparently run afoul of Chinese censors yet again.
Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that over the weekend searches for the Chinese name of the lovable and plump bear on Weibo returned only error messages of this “content is illegal,” while on WeChat a collection of animated gifs featuring the beloved AA Milne character was removed.
While no official explanation of this purge has yet been offered, it likely has something to do with memes in the past that have compared Chinese President Xi Jinping to the adorable, if slow-witted, bear. Back in 2013, images of Xi taking an outdoor stroll with US President Barack Obama at the Sunnylands Estate in California went viral after the two reminded Chinese netizens of another set of BFFs:
Similarly, in 2014, Chinese netizens couldn’t help but satirize an extremely uncomfortable handshake between Xi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe:
It appears that Xi Jinping has failed to see the humor in these comparisons.
— Tom Hancock (@hancocktom) July 17, 2017
Meanwhile, it’s not clear how widespread this ban is. A search on Weibo performed by Shanghaiist turned up multiple references made to Winnie the Pooh in recent days, though none having to do with Xi. However, writing the bear’s name in comments on posts appears to be banned.
Over the past few days, Chinese censors have been working overtime following the death of China’s most famous jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo last Thursday. Since then, censorship of Liu Xiaobo’s English and Chinese names has grown to also encompass his given name (Xiaobo), as well as even a ban on the candle emoji.
It’s also worth mentioning that last year China censored results on Baidu and Weibo for “Kim Fatty III” after North Korea requested that Chinese netizens stop calling their “Dear Leader” fat.
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