Tuesday, 18 July 2017
China bans all mention of Winnie the Pooh on social media
China has decided to ban any mention of Winnie the Pooh from all of its social media platforms. Posts that mention the Chinese name of the bear were suddenly censored on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, over the weekend. Any attempts to post Winnie’s name on the site returns a message: ‘Content is illegal’. And a collection of Winnie the Pooh gifs was dramatically erased from the social messaging app WeChat. No official explanation has been given, but the crackdown is apparently related to comparisons of President Xi Jinping and the chubby fictional bear, which ended up going viral.
The bizarre ban comes ahead of the Communist party congress in autumn. Qiao Mu, assistant professor of media at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the FT: ‘Historically two things have not been allowed: political organising and political action.
‘But this year, a third has been added to the list: talking about the president.’
Qiao said he knew of a number of online commentators who were detained by officials after posting about the president, adding: ‘I think the Winnie issue is part of this trend.’
Although certain words are usually banned when big political events take place, they tend to be directly related to what’s going on or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), rather than about cartoon bears.
Xi was first compared to Winnie the Pooh in 2013, when Barack Obama visited China. The two world leaders walking together were compared to a picture of Pooh walking with Tigger. The comparison stuck from then on. The next year, in 2014, a photo of Xi shaking hands with the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was put side-by-side with a photo of Pooh and Eeyore.