One would assume a children’s movie about Winnie the Pooh is fairly harmless. However, one person who seems to think otherwise is Chinese Leader Xi Jinping. The new Christopher Robin movie is being banned from Chine because bloggers and social media enthusiasts have likened Jinping’s image to that of Pooh.
Last June, China started censoring content related to Winnie the Pooh after comedian John Oliver mentioned Xi Jinping’s sensitivity to the comparison. For example, Chinese social media users started passing around a popular meme of Xi walking alongside President Barack Obama juxtaposed with an image of Pooh walking next to Tigger. If that wasn’t bad enough for the Chinese leader, the next year, a picture of Xi Jinping shaking hands with Japanese Prime Minister drew comparisons with a picture Pooh with another of his friends, the likeable Eeyore, holding hands.
All thought no official reason has been given, the justification for the ban could be that China imposed a quota on the number of foreign films released annually and there have already been a number of Hollywood films released in China right now.
Christopher Robin is not the first Disney movie to be banned by Chinese authorities this year. The first was a A Wrinkle in Time.
The sensitivity to a cartoon character might remind one of another world leader who is sensitive about something equally ridiculous – his hands.
This censorship may seem trivial but it can be alarming since it does raise the concern of a larger issue – the lack of freedom of expression the Chinese people have.
When China’s national legislative body voted to abolish presidential term limits earlier this year — essentially opening the door for Xi to be president for life — censors became more vigilant about suppressing dissent and what they deemed subversive content.
The end of term limits in China was met with worry from human right activists and watchdog groups across the globe.
US President Donald Trump at the time joked about Xi becoming president for life, saying that the United States might also try to elect a president for life one day.
China has an unfortunate long history of censoring information on social media, the web and free speech. Chinese residents can’t access sites such as Facebook, the New York Times, and Google. For years Google has tried to launch a sensor-friendly version of its search engine there, repeated backlash has prevented it from entering into the Chinese market.
The Christopher Robin film is still expected to earn between $20 million and $30 million in the opening weekend and in all likelihood reach the $100 million mark.
The movie is a 2018 children’s fairy tale based upon the hugely successful classic story about a bear called Winnie the Pooh, written by English author Alan Alexander Milne.
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