Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – On Saturday, Wang Xiaochuan, the CEO of China’s search engine Sogou, posted an image of Winnie the Pooh on his Weibo account, generating reactions of surprise and appreciation.
Since 2013 the Disney-owned character is a sensitive item for China’s censors because of a dangerous resemblance with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Comparisons between Mr Xi and Winnie the Pooh first circulated in 2013 during Mr Xi’s visit with then US president Barack Obama.
A picture of the taller and thinner Mr Obama walking with Mr Xi was juxtaposed to a picture of Winnie the Pooh and his lanky friend Tigger, and the comparison stuck . . . and censored.
In 2014, the comparison was extended to Mr Xi’s meeting with Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was pictured as Eeyore, the sad donkey, alongside the bear.
Despite the censorship - or perhaps because of it – Winnie has become portlier and more political, a challenge for online censors.
Had the image not been censored in 2013 and later, it would not have the meaning he has today. Now, for many Internet users, the picture or even the name of Winnie are almost a game. Some just want to see how quickly their posts disappear.
“I heard that the words of Winnie the Pooh were banned, and so I am writing to check,” wrote one. “What’s happening to Winnie the Pooh? What’s he done?” said another.