’Oh, bother’: Chinese censors can’t bear Winnie the Pooh

Rabbit, Winnie The Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger pose for photos as Winnie The Pooh receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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’Oh, bother’: Chinese censors can’t bear Winnie the Pooh

BEIJING: Has Winnie the Pooh done something to anger China’s censors? Some mentions of the lovable but dimwitted bear with a weakness for “hunny” have been blocked on Chinese social networks.
Authorities did not explain the clampdown, but the self-described “bear of very little brain” has been used in the past in a meme comparing him to portly Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Posts bearing the image and the Chinese characters for Winnie the Pooh were still permitted on the Twitter-like Weibo platform Monday.
But comments referencing “Little Bear Winnie” — Pooh’s Chinese name — turned up error messages saying the user could not proceed because “this content is illegal.”
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.
Comparisons between Xi and Pooh first emerged in 2013, after Chinese social media users began circulating a pair of pictures that placed an image of Pooh and his slender tiger friend “Tigger” beside a photograph of Xi walking with then-US President Barack Obama.
In 2014, a photographed handshake between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was matched with an image of Pooh gripping the hoof of his gloomy donkey friend Eeyore.
And in 2015, the political analysis portal Global Risk Insights called a picture of Xi standing up through the roof of a parade car paired with an image of a Winnie the Pooh toy car “China’s most censored photo” of the year.
Qiao Mu, an independent media studies scholar and former professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the blocked bear content was unsurprising given the ruling Communist Party’s sensitivity to depictions of its leader.
It is a particularly sensitive year as Xi is expected to consolidate power at a key party congress this fall.
“It’s very murky what’s allowed and what isn’t, because officials never put out statements describing precisely what will be censored,” Qiao said, noting that many Winnie the Pooh photos were still proliferating on the Chinese Internet.
In other contexts, references to the staple Chinese breakfast food “baozi” have been taken down for evoking the president’s nickname: “Steamed Bun Xi,” Qiao said.
On Monday many Chinese social media users were testing the boundaries of the restrictions imposed on the bear who groans “oh, bother” when things don’t go his way.
“Poor Little Winnie,” one Weibo user wrote.
“What did this adorable honey-loving bear ever do to provoke anyone?“


#MeToo hits Pakistan as allegations mount against leading singer

Updated 20 April 2018
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#MeToo hits Pakistan as allegations mount against leading singer

  • Actress Meesha Shafi posted a lengthy message on Twitter, accusing singer Ali Zafar of physically harassing her on “more than one occasion”
  • “No woman goes public with allegations like this just for, fun," tweeted Pakistani novelist and columnist Bina Shah

ISLAMABAD: Pressure mounted Friday against Pakistani singer Ali Zafar after he was hit with a sexual harassment allegation by a leading actress in the first high profile “#metoo” accusation in the staunchly patriarchal country.
The allegations were trending across social media in Pakistan after popular actress Meesha Shafi posted a lengthy message on Twitter, accusing Zafar of physically harassing her on “more than one occasion.”
“This happened to me despite the fact I am an empowered, accomplished woman who is known for speaking her mind!” read the statement.
Zafar denied the accusations, threatening legal action against the actress.
“I intend to take this through the courts of law, and to address this professionally and seriously rather than to lodge any accusations here,” he wrote on Twitter.
Following the accusation, other high-profile voices were quick to lend their support.
“No woman goes public with allegations like this just for, fun. Obviously, you spend no time listening to women when they talk about how widespread harassment is in our society,” tweeted Pakistani novelist and columnist Bina Shah.
Zafar has dominated the music charts in Pakistan for nearly two decades and has also starred in a number of films including Bollywood satire “Tere bin Laden” which translates as “Your Bin Laden.”
The #MeToo and #Timesup campaigns have gone global since allegations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein were published last October, sparking an avalanche of accusations against other powerful men.
However, the movement has been slow to catch on in Pakistan, where women have fought for their rights for years in a patriarchal society where so-called “honor” killings and attacks on women remain commonplace.
In a report released earlier this week by watchdog Human Rights Commission Pakistan, the group said violence against women remained troubling, with 5,660 related crimes reported in the country’s four provinces in the first 10 months of 2017.
In August, firebrand opposition leader Imran Khan was also hit with allegations of sexual misconduct by a female lawmaker who accused the famed cricketer of sending obscene text messages and promoting a culture of sexism within his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
He later denied the allegations.