'Oh bother!' - China censors Winnie the Pooh

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The ban is the latest activity in the online crackdown before this fall's Communist party congress which will result in key political appointments.

No reason has been given for the ban, but it follows outrage at comparisons to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Apart from flashing error messages, Winnie the Pooh stickers have also been removed from WeChat's official sticker gallery.

The first light-hearted comparison between Xi and Pooh reportedly first surfaced in 2013 when Obama met with the Chinese leader, and netizens compared the former to Pooh's lanky friend Tigger.

What happens when you try to reference Winnie the Pooh on Weibo
Image caption What happens when you try to reference Winnie the Pooh on Weibo

These memes, illustrations and GIFs comparing the China President to slow-witted, good-natured bear are slowly wiped off the internet. Though it will not likely change Xi's status as the top leader of the party, changes in the other positions could act as a bellwether indicating Xi's status as top leader for years to come.

Currently, attempts to write "Winnie the Pooh" in China's famous social network Weibo end up with a pop-up warning "illegal content".

The bear's crime is that, in Chinese eyes, he has a striking resemblance to President Xi.

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Chinese social media users have been testing the boundaries imposed on the lovable creation of AA Milne.

Mr Xi was also lampooned in a photograph showing him shaking hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014.

One of the things that have become too politically sensitive for Chinese social media lately is the fictional character of Winnie the Pooh.

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And in 2015, the political analysis portal Global Risk Insights called a picture of Xi standing up through the roof of a parade auto paired with an image of a Winnie the Pooh toy vehicle "China's most censored photo" of the year. "What did this adorable honey-loving bear ever do to provoke anyone?"

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