Winnie the Pooh has reportedly been censored on social media in China by the Chinese Government.
Authorities have been deleting social media comments that reference “Little Bear Winnie,” the Chinese name for the Disney character. Users who comment on the reference on social media reportedly receive the message, “This content is illegal.”
It’s also claimed that GIFs featuring the Disney character have been removed from WeChat, a messaging service used by 889 million people in the country.
This comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping was previously compared to Winnie the Pooh in 2015. A photograph of Xi shaking hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was likened to Pooh and his friend Eeyore.
— Nancy 韵 (@NancyYunTang) November 10, 2014
Xi was also compared to the honey-loving bear when he popped his head out of the roof of his limousine.
A photo appeared online of a toy Winnie the Pooh popping out of his own little car. This photo was named “the most censored image of 2015” in China, according to political consultancy Global Risk Insights.
— Matthew C. Klein (@M_C_Klein) July 16, 2017
A similar ban was issued in 2013, after Xi’s meeting with former U.S. president Barack Obama began to draw comparisons between Pooh and Tigger.
— Alfredo Medellín (@AlfredoMedelln) June 16, 2013
China is known for its strict internet censorship laws, especially when it comes to poking fun at authority.
Last November, Chinese websites began censoring “Kim Fatty the Third,” a nickname widely used to disparage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after officials from his country reportedly conveyed their displeasure in a meeting with their Chinese counterparts.
Searches for the Chinese words “Jin San Pang” on the search engine Baidu and microblogging platform Weibo began to return no results.
North Korean officials, fearing that Kim would find out about the nickname, lodged a formal request with China to prohibit names disparaging Kim from appearing in the media, according to Hong Kong newspaper reports.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at the time that reports of the banning of “Jin San Pang” didn’t “comply with facts.”
“The Chinese government stays committed to building a healthy and civilized environment of opinions,” he added. “We disapprove of referring to the leader of any country with insulting and mocking remarks.”
Winnie the Pooh was created in 1924 by A.A. Milne, who was inspired by a Canadian black bear at the London Zoo that was named Winnie after it was found near Winnipeg by its owner, Harry Colebourn.
—With files from the Associated Press