Disney’s new film, “Christopher Robin” will not be allowed in China after the government blocked its release there.
Although the Chinese government did not offer a reason for the ban, Beijing has been banning images of Winnie the Pooh since the character started being used to mock Chinese President Xi Jinping, Fox News reported.
Beginning in 2013, social media users began comparing Xi to the bear of very little brain. An image of Xi walking next to former President Barack Obama was soon twinned with one of Pooh walking next to Tigger.
— Financial Times (@FT) July 16, 2017
Individuals wanting to indirectly protest against the Chinese government kept up the comparisons, leading China to block images of Pooh on social media, the BBC reported.
China also has blocked Western efforts to mock its ban on Pooh. In June, HBO was blocked after “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver mocked Xi on the issue of being compared to Pooh.
— Deirdre Bosa (@dee_bosa) November 10, 2014
In 2015, a picture showing Xi in a motorcade was shared next to one of Pooh in a toy car.
The company Global Risk Insights, in a blog post, offered its reasons for the ban.
“The government’s reaction is disproportionate and puzzling for two reasons. Firstly, where some see harmless fun, Beijing sees a serious effort to undermine the dignity of the presidential office and Xi himself,” the company wrote.
“Authoritarian regimes are often touchy, yet the backlash is confusing since the government is effectively squashing a potential positive, and organic, public image campaign for Xi,” Global Risk Insights continued, naming the 2015 image China’s “most censored image of 2015.”
“Beijing’s attack on Winnie the Pooh may be farcical, but it is also an indication of more serious trends in China’s media,” the post added.
In Response to the News of China Banning the New Winnie the Pooh Movie I Decided to Try My Hand at Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh Memes pic.twitter.com/0XZnhYGgAO
— Only Advice Animals (@animals_advice) August 6, 2018
Qiao Mu, a former Beijing Foreign Studies University professor, said the apparent ban was not a surprise and noted that no one can be sure where China draws the line.
“It’s very murky what’s allowed and what isn’t because officials never put out statements describing precisely what will be censored,” Qiao said, according to the New York Post.
Winnie the Pooh is not banned in China. There are caps on the number of foreign films allowed into the market each year. Secretary Xi's Critics and fans both compare his appearance to the Disney version of Winnie. Some Winnie memes have occasionally been deleted. See Taobao: pic.twitter.com/Qru4OWz6PX
— China Law Translate / Jeremy Daum (@ChinaLawTransl8) August 5, 2018
Some said there were other factors at work. In its reporting on the ban, the Hollywood Reporter said China only allows 34 foreign films a year into the country, and noted that Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” was also not allowed in China.
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