hen Xi Jinping came to town earlier this week, the Spanish police reportedly made it clear that a certain friendly cartoon bear was not welcome in Madrid, in order to avoid potentially upsetting the powerful visitor.
A street performer who earns money by dressing up as Winnie the Pooh and posing for photos in the Puerta del Sol in the center of the Spanish capital told the online newspaper eldiario.es that police officers had asked him to say out of sight as Xi’s motorcade passed by the famous square on the way to Madrid’s city council building.
“I didn’t make a fuss about it. It was only 20 or 30 minutes,” the Pooh impersonator said, according to the Telegraph, adding that he understood the decision after officers explained to him how the Chinese president might find the sight of him offensive.
As Spanish authorities are apparently aware, Xi has long been likened to Winnie the Pooh, beginning with an outdoor stroll he took with US President Barack Obama at the Sunnylands Estate in California back in 2013. Their walk together reminded Chinese netizens of another pair of BFFs.
The following year, Chinese net users couldn’t help but evoke Winnie the Pooh once again whensatirizingan extremely uncomfortable handshake between Xi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.
It would certainly appear that Xi does not appreciate the comparisons of himself to the lovable, if slow-witted and chubby, cartoon bear. Every now and again, Pooh gets banned on Chinese social mediaand many believe that the live-actionChristopher Robinfilmdidn’t get a China release because of Xi’s sensitivities.
With no Pooh in sight, Xi’s first trip to Madrid appears to have gone smoothly with China and Spain signing 10 deals worth $17.6 billion including agreements that will allow whole Spanish hams to be imported to the Middle Kingdom.
For his part, Xi said that China-Spain relations were now at their best point in history.