Winnie the Pooh has become the latest target for Chinese censors thanks to an uncanny resemblance between a picture of President Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping walking together like Winnie and Tigger.
The photograph, taken at California’s recent summit, simply captured the two presidents walking side by side through Sunnylands estate; however, it didn’t take long for Chinese micro-bloggers to see the link between these two very different pairings and post a comparison picture on a Twitter-like social media site, Weibo.
Despite how quickly the picture went viral, it wasn’t long before the Chinese government stepped in and censored the image; the censors recollection of the decision to take down the picture was called ‘harmonizing’, which simply seems like a polite way of saying removed.
It’s hard to believe anyone would deem the loveable bear a threat, after all, he is known for standing up against potentially dangerous elements like swine flu.
Although Winnie the Pooh certainly didn’t make any friends among the Chinese government, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post commented on how the potentially positive PR campaign was ‘nipped in the bud’, which would have undoubtedly given President Xi Jinping some favorable press coverage.
However, the apparent overzealous censors aren’t unknown for their removal of the slightest hint of anything damaging to the Communist Party’s public image – just recently they removed a photoshopped picture of the renowned Tiananmen Square photograph after giant rubber ducks had replaced the tanks normally seen.
Furthermore, the censors then set up an Internet block so that all searches relating to the post couldn’t turn up any results; seemingly the giant bath toys had done more damage than first thought.
Unusually though, according to a recent Harvard study, all censors aren’t necessarily trying to remove negative opinions of the government depicted, in fact it would seem that they’re trying to remove any incentive for social mobilisation.
Clearly the thought of people taking to the streets armed with children’s toys and famous cartoon characters is powerful enough without the idea actually taking any solid form.
If it did actually happen, people might see a repeat of Winnie the Pooh accesories being seized, which actually happened to a 9-year-old girl last year.
So for now, it would seem that Winnie the Pooh and his faithful friend Tigger won’t be making any appearances on Chinese Internet sites in the near future.
[Image via now.msn]