MANILA, Philippines – If you’re wondering why the cuddly, fuzzy, and often insightful yellow bear Winnie the Pooh is suddenly all over your social media feeds, here’s why: it’s likely a cheeky way to “welcome” Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi is visiting the Philippines beginning Tuesday, November 20, until Wednesday, November 21. (READ: Xi Jinping’s schedule of activities in PH)
Some users in the Philippines have jokingly referred to November 20 as “National Winnie the Pooh Day.”
China has a long-standing ban on the beloved A. A. Milne character, ostensibly because of frequent comparisons made between Pooh and Xi. “The blocking of Winnie the Pooh might seem like a bizarre move by the Chinese authorities, but it is part of a struggle to restrict clever bloggers from getting around their country’s censorship,” notes the BBC News.
In China, the ruling regime bans any mentions of Pooh. GIFs of the character have also been deleted from WeChat, China’s instant messaging app. Apparently, attempts to even mention the bear results in an error message.
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day” is something Pooh often says. But it’s almost impossible to get past China’s bans — they take them very seriously.
Elsewhere, however, there’s no stopping the comparisons.
People online have made memes comparing Xi and even other world leaders to characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. A picture of Xi and former American president Barack Obama has been juxtaposed alongside a photo of Pooh and friend Tigger walking side by side.
Even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hasn’t been spared – a picture of Abe and Xi shaking hands has been compared to Pooh and the perennially gloomy Eeyore shaking hands as well.
The ban grabbed headlines back in August 2018 when the movie Christopher Robin, an adaptation of the popular children’s story, hit theaters. It didn’t make it to Chinese shores likely because of the ban and China’s limit on the number of foreign movies it allows to be shown yearly. – Rappler.com