Winnie the Pooh Has Been Blacklisted on Chinese Social Media

Disney Wikia
As a Westerner in China, there are a few things it's worth steering clear of, if you want to avoid offending people: finishing your plate, saying 'no' in public, avoiding personal questions, and if you're learning Mandarin, be sure to remember that there's only a very small tonal difference between the words for 'mother' and 'horse'. Generally speaking though, any kind of governmental criticism is a major no-no, especially on social media.

Pretty much anything which could be construed as a negative attitude towards the government will either be pulled or even result in a full account ban, and as of last week, this includes Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne's most famous character obviously has little to nothing to do with China, the Hundred Acre Wood was not an elaborate allegory for the CPC, but as ever, the internet finds ways to connect things, accidentally or otherwise.

In this peculiar case, it was meme-related. An established trend saw Chinese users uploading an image Pooh and Tigger walking side by side next to another of Obama walking with Chinese president Xi Jinping, the idea being to illustrate that Xi is short and has a bit of a paunch. As a result, all the Winnie the Pooh stickers have been removed from WeChat, and his Chinese name - Little Bear Winnie - has been blacklisted on Weibo.

It's still possible to upload some images and GIFs of the character, or reference him by his proper, anglicised name, but the Chinese authorities may chance that before too long if the meme persists. This isn't the first time that the online watchdogs have tried to silence it, in 2015 an image of Xi in a parade car was paired with an image of a Pooh-branded toy car. It was the most censored photo of the year.

Users are still testing the boundaries of the blacklisting, and for the time being it looks like they still have a few different options for professing their love for everyone's favourite honey-addicted bear, but much like actual bears, the Chinese government don't like being poked.

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