China just banned children’s favorite Disney show, "Winnie the Pooh," on the internet for the most insane reason ever.
Apparently, comparisons were made on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, that unfavorably compared President Xi Jinping to the roly-poly, honey-loving bear. That spelled the end for Winnie: he is a banned bear on social media. Some memes and animated GIFs posted on the Chinese messaging app WeChat were also removed.
Chinese authorities have not given a reason for censoring the images of the beloved cartoon character. However, it is not hard to figure out that this is yet another move by the country to curb free speech.
Chinese bloggers reportedly drew comparisons of the country’s top leadership with the self-described "bear of very little brain." In one image, Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's awkward handshake was compared to Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore shaking hands.
Comparisons were made between Xi and Pooh earlier in 2013 as well, when the Chinese premier and Obama were compared with Pooh and Tiger.
This absurd ban comes amid heightened sensitivities ahead of the Communist Party’s national congress — a meeting that takes place every five years and sees the appointment of the new Politburo Standing Committee: the now seven-member group at the top of the Chinese political system.
Naturally, Xi will also use the congress to mark the beginning of his second term in office and solidify his grip on power by promoting allies. He is also sidelining those who are seen as a threat. That is why the Chinese government banned images of Pooh from the internet; they can’t bear the notion of Xi losing power or popularity.
The Chinese government has reportedly banned all images of the cartoon bear. If people in China type in Winnie the Pooh, search results appear, but all images have been removed.
“It’s very murky what’s allowed and what isn’t, because officials never put out statements describing precisely what will be censored,” said Qiao Mu, an independent media studies scholar and former professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
People on Twitter had quite a lot to say.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters