Chinese censors can't bear Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh, the famous animated character, was recently blocked on China's social networks, where the stuffed bear has been compared in the past to the country's president, Xi Jinping, AFP informs. Weibo is China's bigger-than-Twitter microblogging platform.

Winnie the Pooh stickers have also been removed from WeChat's official "sticker gallery, " but user-generated gifs of the bear are still available on the popular messaging app.

Searches for the "Little Bear Winnie" - as Pooh is called in China - returned the error message "content is illegal".

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

However, Global Risk Insights claims the most censored photo of the year in China is one which shows the president standing in a auto through the sun roof, compared with a Winnie the Pooh toy where the character is sitting in a convertible. But this year a third has been added to the list: "talking about the president", Qiao Mu, assistant professor of media at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Financial Times.

"Historically, two things have not been allowed: political organising and political action".

He noted that internet users in the mainland have been detained in the past over posts that comments about the president.

Chinese social media users have long relied on euphemisms such as the Pooh-Xi joke to skirt the country's strict censorship system.

A similar comparison was made with Xi as Pooh and Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe as Eeyore, the sad donkey.

Memes comparing Xi Jinping to Winnie are believed to have first emerged in 2013.

Vanessa Coleman