China vs. Pooh

©2018 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved. (Winnie the Pooh); Maurizio Gambarini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images (President Xi Jinping)

Winnie the Pooh from the new Christopher Robin film (left); China’s President Xi Jinping (right)

China is at war—with a cuddly fictitious bear. The government recently blocked the release of the new Winnie the Pooh movie, Christopher Robin, and has been censoring all images of Pooh on the internet. In recent years, the lovable character has emerged as a symbol of resistance to the Chinese government. Chinese citizens have used images of Pooh to mock their president, Xi Jinping, on social media by comparing his appearance to that of the portly bear. China has long kept a tight watch over the internet, with the government employing tens of thousands of censors to take down anything critical of Chinese leaders. Says Orville Schell, the director of the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations: “The episode of Winnie the Pooh and Xi Jinping is one very graphic, if not comical, example of the degrees to which the Chinese Communist Party . . . will go to tame what can be discussed.”

For more on how the Chinese government tries to control its citizens, see “Big Brother Comes to China.”