China seems to ban on all things Winnie the Pooh. Now it seems the Disney Film Christopher Robin will not be released in the country. While no official reason was given, President Xi Jinping has previously cracked down on the cartoon bear, largely because creative internet users began using the honey-loving fictional character as a stand-in for Xi.
A live-action film adaptation of the classic story by AA Milne, Disney’s Christopher Robin features Winnie the Pooh as one of the main characters.
News that the movie would be banned in China was confirmed by Disney’s head of distribution, Cathleen Taff.
According to a report by the Daily Mail, comparisons between Xi and Winnie the Pooh originally emerged in 2013. Chinese social media users began circulating an image of the Pooh next to Tigger, the tiger friend of the bear, next to a picture of Xi walking with then-president Barack Obama.
In 2014, an image of Pooh and Eeyore, the melancholy donkey, shaking hands was paired with a photo of Xi and Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister.
Winnie the Pooh soon became a symbol of dissent in China for those who opposed the Communist Party.
Chinese government censors work to remove images that mock Xi on social media, including reference to Pooh. When an episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, a show hosted by John Oliver, featured a segment discussing Xi’s dislike over the comparisons to the bear, it was blocked by Chinese authorities.
China only allows 34 foreign films to be imported each year. Typically, Disney films are allowed into the country, including Ant-Man and The Wasp, which will begin showing on August 24 in China.
Christopher Robin will be the second Disney film this year that didn’t make the cut. The other was A Wrinkle in Time.
While Christopher Robin won’t show in China, the film is likely to be a success elsewhere. It features Ewan McGregor in the title role, playing an adult Christopher Robin who reunites with a variety of characters from the Hundred Acre Wood.