China reportedly bans Disney’s 'Winnie the Pooh' movie after Xi comparisons

  • A new Disney movie featuring Winnie the Pooh reportedly won't be shown in China because of comparisons to President Xi Jinping.
  • Winnie the Pooh has previously been censored on Chinese social media, according to reports.
  • Images pairing President Xi and the cartoon bear first appeared in 2013.

Disney's new movie "Christopher Robin" has reportedly been banned from release in China because its main character, a talking bear, has previously been likened to President Xi Jinping.

The movie is a 2018 fantasy comedy, based on the children's classic story about a bear called Winnie the Pooh, written by the author AA Milne.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the new film will not be seen in China as Beijing is upset that the Pooh character has become a way for people to mock the president.

Images of Xi as Pooh started in 2013 as Chinese internet users shared the comical take on social media platforms such as Weibo. The most popular meme depicted Xi and former U.S. President Barack Obama as Pooh and his friend Tigger.

A photo of Xi standing up through the roof of a parade car, next to a picture of Winnie the Pooh in a toy car, was named the "most censored image of 2015" by political consultancy Global Risk Insights.

Another popular image which surfaced in 2014 depicted the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the character Eeyore.

In 2017, Beijing started blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media and in June this year, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver mocked Xi's sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

The Hollywood Reporter has cited sources for the story but also reported an alternative explanation for the ban, namely that the foreign film quota in the Chinese market is currently quite high.

The entertainment media outlet also reported that the only other Disney movie this year to be rejected by China was "A Wrinkle in Time." Disney will open "Ant-Man and the Wasp" in China on August 24.

The first collection of stories about Winnie the Pooh was released in 1926.