China blacklists Winnie the Pooh because of comparisons to President Xi

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Although, no official explanation has been provided, many observed that the reason behind the ban might be due to certain viral posts on Twitter suggesting a resemblance between Winnie the Pooh and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping.

"Authorities have deleted online comments referencing "Little Bear Winnie" - Pooh's Chinese name" - leaving users with error messages telling them: "This content is illegal". A collection of animated gifs featuring the bear were also removed from social messaging app WeChat, according to the FT.

Winnie the Pooh has been censored from Chinese social media after unflattering memes compared the honey-loving bear to the country's President Xi Jinping.

Yet, the newspaper believes that the move has demonstrated tightening censorship on the eve of the autumn congress of the Communist Party of China, where important changes inside the Chinese leadership are likely to happen.

What happens when you try to reference Winnie the Pooh on Weibo
Image caption What happens when you try to reference Winnie the Pooh on Weibo

Forbidden words are often added to censors' blacklists during big political events, but these are typically directly connected.

"I think the Winnie issue is part of this trend".

The memes first surfaced in 2013 during Mr Xi's visit with then-US president Barack Obama, when an image of Winnie the Pooh walking with friend Tigger was set alongside a picture of the two heads of state together.

A year later, the comparison was extended to Xi's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where the latter was likened to Eeyore, the sad donkey, while Xi was once again compared to the bear. In 2015 a picture of AA Milne's creation in a roofless vehicle was widely circulated and compared to one of Mr Xi riding in a auto while inspecting troops during a parade in Beijing. Chinese social media is rich with euphemisms and jokes used to evade the censors.

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