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The Chinese Internet Censors Winnie the Pooh Because of Memes

Disney
Disney

Even the world’s most humble, honey-hungry animated bear can’t escape the watchful eye of China’s internet censors.

In a year full of headlines and new stories many of us thought we’d never have to write, Winnie the Pooh being censored by the Chinese governments is definitely up there with the best of them. What’s to blame for the search errors for “Little Bear Winnie,” as he’s known in China? Memes, of course. See? This is why 2017’s pop culture news is just spinning wildly out of control.

According to the Guardian, images and posts featuring Winnie were still up and searchable, but anything referencing “Little Bear Winnie” were being returned with error images. Messages informed those trying to access such content that “this content is illegal,” and even Winnie the Pooh stickers on China’s WeChat app were pulled from circulation. All because some clever social media users started comparing Winnie the Pooh to China’s president, Xi Jinping.

China’s been known to censor the internet on more than a few occasions, but is particularly hardlined about anything that pokes fun at or disparages authority and authority figures. That would certainly count for memes like the one below that re-imagined president Jinping as the “bear of very little brain” and then-president Obama as the cheerful and friendly Tigger.

Or this 2014 meme of president Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, in which Abe is reluctantly depicted as the pessimistic donkey, Eeyore.

Neither of those images compare to 2015’s “most censored image in China,” according to Global Risk Insights. In that picture, a toy of Winnie the Pooh sitting in a car was compared to Jinping standing up through the sunroof of a car of his own.

It’s a strange bit of circumstances that have seen Winnie the Pooh images being culled from the Chinese internet and social media, but certainly it’s not the most extreme case of censorship ever seen overseas. At least this instance is mildly humorous. Just remember the next time you visit Shanghai Disney to be careful what images you post to social media.

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