Why China Is Censoring Winnie the Pooh—And the Letter ‘N’

March 1, 2018, 10:50 AM UTC

Chinese President Xi Jinping has had a fruitful five plus years in his current position.

He has overseen continued Chinese growth and China’s growing influence on the global stage. And many Chinese people have supported his leadership—but now that support might be tested.

The ruling Communist Party changed the Chinese Constitution this week, removing term limits and effectively giving Xi the ability stay in power for the foreseeable future. This move has been largely unpopular, with many drawing parallels to the rule of Mao Zedong. In fact, limits had initially been implemented precisely to avoid cult of personality leadership after Mao’s death in 1976, following a 27-year rule.

Read: China Is Said to be Cracking Down on a Cryptocurrency Loophole

And so, to cut off any dissent following the announcement, Chinese censors upped their game, keeping an even more watchful eye on anything online that could be deemed subversive.

Among the ‘subversive’ content was the English letter ‘N,’ which was apparently briefly censored. The New York Times explains that it was intended to “preempt social scientists from expressing dissent mathematically: N > 2, with ‘N’ being the number of Mr. Xi’s terms in office.”

Read: China May Abolish Term Limits, Allowing Xi to Stay in Power Indefinitely

Images of Winnie the Pooh were also blocked. The Chinese ruler has been likened to the cartoon bear in the past, with critics of Xi mocking him for having similar physical characteristics to the portly bear.

The honey-loving bear was first removed from Chinese websites and social media networks in 2013, when the meme first went into circulation following a Chinese visit to the U.S. Internet users posted a side-by-side comparison of a photo of Xi and President Obama walking with an image of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. Despite being a seemingly cute bear, Chinese censors are notorious for blocking any content that seems even mildly critical of the Chinese leader.

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