Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Beijing, China (4E) – China has banned the domestic release of the Hollywood fantasy children’s movie, Christopher Robin, because the film directly insults Chinese president Xi Jinping.
The movie stars Ewan McGregor as the adult Christopher Robin, along with his lovable and imaginary childhood friends — the beloved bear Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Owl and Rabbit — from Hundred Acre Wood.
China’s communist government gave no official reason for banning the movie. China’s communist rulers, however, have blocked images of Winnie the Pooh on all social media sites since 2017.
The reason for banning this innocent children’s movie is plainly obvious to China watchers — Xi is Winnie the Pooh, at least to Xi’s army of critics at home and abroad. You can also call Xi, “Winnie the Xi.”
Xi’s opponents in China have long derided the portly but unsmiling Chinese communist leader by comparing him to the portly but loveable Winnie the Pooh. In China today, Winnie the Pooh is a symbol of political dissent and resistance to Xi and his oppressive communist regime that denies many Chinese their basic human rights.
Xi’s began being compared to Winnie in 2013 when an image of Xi walking with former U.S. President Barack Obama was posted in social media along with a picture of Pooh walking next to Tigger. These photos were later banned by China’s censor, but the memes became a flood from then on.
In 2014, a picture of Winnie the Xi shaking hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe alongside a picture of Pooh with Eeyore was shared in Chinese social media sites such as Weibo. The inference here was again obvious: Xi is Winnie and Abe is Eeyore.
In 2015, a photo showing Xi in a motorcade alongside an image of a Winnie the Pooh in a toy car became “China’s most censored photo,” according to political analysis company Global Risk Insights (GRI), a publication for political risk news and analysis based in London.
GRI said China’s relentless censorship of Pooh bear might be occurring because comparisons with Xi are seen by Beijing as “a serious effort to undermine the dignity of the presidential office and Xi himself.”
As the non-stop Xi-Winnie memes flooded social media, Chinese censors began blocking images, GIFs and mentions of Winnie. This shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
The movie Christopher Robin tells the story of Robin reuniting with Winnie as an adult and rediscovering his romantic and playful imagination. It received mixed critical reviews in the Western press.
Christopher Robin premiered in Burbank, California on July 30. It was released in the United States on Aug. 3 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
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