New Disney Film Banned in China Over Winnie the Pooh Memes

Christopher Robin meets his childhood friend the silly old Winnie-the-Pooh

Christopher Robin | Disney

Oh bother! Disney's newest Winnie the Pooh movie, Christopher Robin, won't be hitting Chinese cinemas.

But the country also has an annual foreign film quota set at 34 movies.

It typically favors action-heavy blockbusters such as "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Black Panther", two of four Disney films that have played in China so far this year.

While China provides no reason for the films it doesn't select for its theatres, it's an unlikely coincidence that it comes after opponents have likened the bear's appearance to Mr Xi and have used Pooh as a symbol of resistance.

In June, Chinese authorities blocked American TV provider HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver ridiculed Xi's sensitivity over being compared to Winnie-the-Pooh.

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The Winnie-the-Pooh and Xi memes are thought to have started from a 2013 photo of Xi and then-US President Barack Obama, which emerged alongside a picture of Pooh and the tall, slim, fun-loving tiger character Tigger.

The A.A. Milne character has become a symbol of political dissent in China after President Xi Jinping was compared to Pooh, according to BBC.

According to political analysis company Global Risk Insights, the comparison between Jinping and Winnie the Pooh are viewed by Beijing as "a serious effort to undermine the dignity of the presidential office and Xi himself".

The comparison once again made rounds in 2014, when an image of Jinping shaking hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was posted on Twitter juxtapositioned to a picture of Pooh and Eeyore.

Both appear in McGregor's new movie, Christopher Robin, which was released in North America on Friday Aug 3.

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