China’s censors have banned images of Disney cartoon character Winnie the Pooh, after mainland netizens made fun of President Xi Jinping by comparing him to the cuddly teddy bear, hk01.com reports.
Mainland cultural bureaus have banned social media posts with images of the Chinese leader and Winnie the Pooh side by side, and ordered merchandise portraying the bear be taken off store shelves, Taiwan’s Central News Agency said, citing mainland reports.
For the censors, the reports said, comparing the cartoon character to President Xi is considered defamatory.
While WeChat and Weibo users are still able to read articles with references to Winnie the Pooh, Weibo users are unable to type in the Chinese characters of the cartoon character in the comments section.
Netizens also said Winnie the Pooh emojis are no longer available for download on WeChat.
According to Taiwan’s news agency, references to Winnie the Pooh started when President Xi visited the United States in 2013.
A photo of the Chinese leader walking with US President Barack Obama at Sunnylands in California was set side by side with an image of Winnie the Pooh striding along with tiger cartoon character Tigger to show the hilarious similarity. The juxtaposition has become a popular meme in the mainland ever since.
Another internet meme that has gone viral makes reference to the frosty handshake betwen Xi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their first encounter at the APEC meeting in Beijing in 2014, and compares them with an image of Winnie the Pooh and the donkey mascot Eeyore also shaking hands.
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