The Chinese authorities have reportedly banned the release of American Disney film 'Christopher Robin', which features the famous fictional character 'Winnie-the-Pooh'.
While no official reason has been given for the ban, it is said to be linked to the tongue-in-cheek comparisons that have been made between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Winnie-the-Pooh through memes and images circulated online for the past few years.
For the past one year, authorities in the country have been censoring these images, which have become a means to express dissent for some among the Chinese.
The comparative pictures first surfaced in 2013. A photograph of Xi Jinping and Barack Obama walking together was placed alongside that of Winnie-the-Pooh and another fictional character Tigger.
Then, a year later, Xi's handshake picture with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was placed along with that of Winnie and the donkey Eeyore.
In 2015, the comparison was between Xi and Winnie sitting in their respective vehicles – one part of a motorcade and the other a toy car. This one was apparently "China's most censored photo", said Global Risk Insights.
According to the publication, the Chinese authorities see such images not as light-hearted jokes, but as "a serious effort to undermine the dignity of the presidential office and Xi himself".
The Chinese censorship also extended to the HBO website after famous talk show host John Oliver ran a programme taking digs at the Chinese president over the Winnie-the-Pooh comparisons.
However, media reports point out that China has set a limit for the number of foreign films to be released each year at 34, which might be the reason for the ban.
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