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Winnie the Pooh is a good-natured and gullible bear. That makes him an unlikely lead in a horror movie. Released earlier this year, “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” was panned by moviegoers around the world. In Hong Kong, it was pulled by cinemas before its release. It didn’t even go that far in mainland China. It’s not because the gore is unbelievably gory, or because the film’s entire premise is ridiculous. Any depiction of Pooh is sure to draw the attention of Chinese authorities. Why?
When Mr. Xi met Barack Obama at the White House in 2013, a joke on social media suggested that the two resembled Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, the bear’s imaginary sidekick. The President of the United States is tall and lithe. By comparison, China’s leader appears stocky and somewhat potbellied. Mr. Obama’s lean body reaches 1.87 meters. Xi Jinping’s height, although somewhat mysterious, is believed to be between 1.75m and 1.78m. Regardless of the truth, a meme was born.
Censoring China’s internet is a game of whack-a-mole.Direct criticism of the Communist Party and its general secretary is quickly caught, so netizens must find creative way Complain or laugh at them before the authorities find out. For a while, a harmless bear became the elusive mole. It is understood that Arch’s online reference to Pooh refers to Chinese leaders. In 2015, a photo of Mr. Xi poking out the sunroof of his limousine during a military parade was widely compared to a photo of Mr. Pooh sitting in a toy car. It became China’s most scrutinized image this year, according to Global Risk Insights, an organization that analyzes political risk. By 2017 Winnie the Pooh, the Chinese character for Winnie-the-Pooh (literally “Winnie the Pooh”) had effectively been banned on the Chinese internet.
Given that comparisons with Mr. Xi are often lighthearted, the reaction may appear overly sensitive. After all, world leaders often try to mask their authoritarianism with an endearing alter ego: Mr. Xi himself once reveled in the flattering nickname “Xi Dada” in state media until some began to mock him. But China’s leaders still share a trait more common among authoritarians: a thin skin. Xi Jinping has amassed more power than any predecessor since Mao Zedong. Like Mao, he cultivated a cult of personality in which he must be seen as always right. He is obsessed with image.Party members and cadres are expected Cram the wisdom of Xi Jinping. No matter how gentle, there is no room for sarcasm.
so china issue Swarms of censors and the secret police scour online posts. Internet companies employ tens of thousands of moderators who can spot and remove banned ideas and images in seconds, including images of cute bears. The sensitivity of the censors borders on the absurd. Last year, a man live-streamed himself eating a cake. Authorities worried that the delicacy looked like a tank, and he was taken off the air for fears he was alluding to the men who used force to clear student protesters from Tiananmen Square in 1989.Last year, the State Internet Information Office of China made a rule All comments on Chinese news sites are screened before they are published.
Bill Clinton in 2000 famous prophecy China’s authoritarian regime is determined to police what its people say, but will prove powerless in the age of smartphones and the free flow of information online. In fact, Xi Jinping’s government – with the exception of a few rogues – has proven itself more than capable of maintaining control. As A.A. Milne (who happens to be an acquaintance of Winnie the Pooh) said: “Organization is what you do before you do something so that when you do it, things don’t get totally messed up.”
© 2023, The Economist Limited. all rights reserved. From The Economist, published with permission.Original content available at www.economist.com