No, that’s not a spoof headline.
Winnie the Pooh is arousing the wrath of socialist censors Beijing. And it’s not the first time he’s done it.
Over the weekend, Chinese censors removed images and text related to 100-Acre Wood’s most famous resident from sites including WeChat and Weibo, China’s bigger-than-Twitter microblogging platform, the Financial Times reports.
Although no official explanation for the blacklisting was given, it’s likely connected to a longstanding joke.
Social media users first pointed out a comic likeness between Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Disney’s rendering of A.A. Milne’s famous character in 2013. An image of the former walking beside U.S. President Barack Obama bore an uncanny resemblance to an image of the latter walking beside Tigger. Another Pooh-Xi side-by-side became China’s most censored image of 2015 according to political consultancy Global Risk Insights.
Chinese social media users have long relied on euphemisms such as the Pooh-Xi joke to skirt the country’s strict censorship system.
The latest Pooh ban appears to be part of a larger tightening of state control in the run up to this fall’s Communist Party Congress. Various virtual private networks, or VPNs — which can be used to access prohibited sites — have also been banned.