Winnie-the-Pooh, the beloved children's icon, has been blacklisted in China following comparisons between the pot-bellied bear and China's president, the Financial Times reported.
The character's name in Chinese was censored in posts on Sina Weibo, a social media platform similar to Twitter, while a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh gifts vanished from social messaging service WeChat, according to the newspaper.
Any attempts to post Pooh's Chinese name on Weibo prompted a message: "Content is illegal."
The reasons for China's Pooh ban remain unclear, the Times said, but it may or may not have to do with previous online comparisons of the pants-less bear to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Memes pairing Pooh with Xi first cropped up in 2013 after Xi took a stroll beside former President Barack Obama, whose thin frame reminded some of Tigger, Pooh's taller companion. (Xi wears pants in the photo.)
Di Cina tokoh kartun Winnie The Pooh di sensor karena mirip presiden Xi Jinping. pic.twitter.com/T66bEE36H3— бגмגг мגгiк иdגяц м✌ (@GaMalikNM48) December 7, 2016
A later meme cast Xi as Pooh alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, portrayed as the diffident Eeyore.
In fact, the Times noted, a meme of Xi protruding from a car next to a image of Winnie-the-Pooh doing the same became the "most censored image of 2015," according to Global Risk Insights, which examines political risk.
China's problem with Pooh marks yet another act of censorship ahead of this fall's 19th National Congress of the Communist party, an event where important political appointments will be named.
It's not uncommon for China's censors to add words to their blacklists around major events.
Qiao Mu, an assistant professor of media at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Times that some online users had been detained after commenting on the president.
“I think the Winnie issue is part of this trend," Qiao told the newspaper.
© 2018 USATODAY.COM