China says no to Winnie the Pooh film over comparisons with president

Sergio Cunningham
August 10, 2018

The live-action film premiered worldwide over the weekend except in China, where authorities did not provide a reason why the Disney movie was banned.

The Hollywood Reporter names two reasons the film may have been denied release in China.

The trend first started in 2013 when Jinping visited the United States and an image of him walking alongside then American president Barack Obama was likened to one featuring Pooh and Tigger, according to The Guardian.

The comparison once again made rounds in 2014, when an image of Jinping shaking hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was posted on Twitter juxtapositioned to a picture of Pooh and Eeyore.

However, the decision has revived online discussion as censors have in the past targeted the film's main character, originally conceptualised by English author A.A. Milne, due to memes that compare the bumbling bear to President Xi Jinping.

Government censors has been erasing the images that mocked Xi on social media. In 2015, the Financial Times reported, a photo of Xi waving at supporters from a parade auto next to an image of Pooh in a toy vehicle was named the most censored image of the year by Global Risk Insights.

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And despite being released around the world, fans of Winnie the Pooh living in China will not be able to enjoy watching the film.

China has an annual foreign film quota, this year set at 34, that limits the number of movies to be shown in the country. Disney will open "Ant-Man and The Wasp" in China on August 24.

It stars Scot Ewan McGregor, 47, as a grown-up Christopher who is reunited with his old stuffed toy.

Ever since, the memes have taken a life of their own so much that the Chinese authorities have been banning the images of the Disney character on social media since past year.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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