Disney cartoon character Winnie-the-Pooh seems to have attracted the ire of the Chinese community as censors in China banned the use of the character on popular social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat. Based on the reports, the honey-loving bear from the Hundred Acre Wood was blacklisted due to the emergence of memes that compared Pooh from China’s President Xi Jinping.

Even though Pooh bear is one of the cutest Disney characters, China can’t seem to bear its presence on social media. But this was not the first time that Chinese censors banned the character. As a matter of fact, Global Risk Insights revealed that there’s a Winnie-the-Pooh meme that became the “most censored image” in 2015.

Censorship

There have been several Pooh memes that have circulated on social media worldwide. But perhaps due to political risks, Chinese censors decided to ban the use of Pooh’s Chinese name or the comments about Pooh on Sina Weibo posts. The social media platform is said to be similar to the microblogging site, Twitter.

Also, the Winnie-the-Pooh stickers from WeChat, a social messaging app, also disappeared but the user-generated GIFs remain. Those who try to post Pooh’s name on Weibo reportedly receive an error message saying, “The content is illegal.” But as of Monday, using Pooh’s image on Weibo posts was still allowed.

Pooh Memes

Memes are quite popular on social media, and they are often used to joke around. Unfortunately, not all are good memes, and at times, they could be derogatory or offensive.

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Perhaps that’s how the Chinese censors viewed it when they decided to ban Pooh’s name and image on social media.

The memes, which showed a comparison between Disney’s cute but pants-less bear and Chinese President Xi Jinping started in 2013 when a meme emerged showing a cropped picture of Pooh and Tigger that was placed beside the photo of Jinping and former U.S. President Barack Obama while they were strolling. In another meme, Xi’s photo with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was compared to Pooh and Eeyore’s image. The most censored meme in 2015, however, showed an image of Xi in a car and it was compared to a Winnie-the-Pooh toy.

Reasons for the ban

The latest Winnie-the-Pooh censorship came ahead of China’s Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, which will happen in autumn.

The said event is reportedly important to the Chinese people as new political appointments will be revealed.

China is no stranger to censorships. According to former Beijing Foreign Studies University professor Qiao Mu, the ban might be due to the “sensitivity” of the Communist Party when it comes to the “portrayals of President Xi and his attempts to consolidate power” before a new leader will be hailed this fall, New York Post noted. The independent media studies scholar also said, “It’s very murky what’s allowed and what isn’t because officials never put out statements describing precisely what will be censored.”

Furthermore, China also does not tolerate an activity that will place its leader as a subject of ridicule even though the memes appeared harmless. They also do not want a popular and much loved Disney character to become an “online euphemism” for the general secretary of the Communist Party.