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  1. ITV Report

China bans Disney's latest film Christopher Robin and images of Winnie the Pooh

Xi Jinping has often been compared to the cartoon character by critics. Photo: PA

Oh, bother.

China’s film authorities are refusing to give permission to show Disney's new Winnie the Pooh film, Christopher Robin.

No reason has been given for the decision to censor a seemingly friendly fictional bear, but it's believed to be part of a clampdown on the portly cartoon character which Mr Xi has often been compared.

Why have references to Winnie the Pooh been flooding social media?

An image of Winnie the Pooh in a toy truck was found among the most heavily censored images on Chinese social media.

This isn’t a recent phenomenon: a picture of Xi and Barack Obama went viral in 2013 when put next to an image of Winnie the Pooh and his companion Tigger.

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In 2014, the comparison continued when Xi met Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was depicted as Eeyore.

In fact, an image of Winnie the Pooh in a toy truck was found among the most heavily censored images on Chinese social media in 2015.

It was said to be mocking a picture of Xi in a limousine at a parade.

So what’s happened?

China has a clampdown on images of the portly cartoon character which Mr Xi has often been compared. Credit: AP

Whilst there has been no formal announcement from the Chinese government banning references to Winnie the Pooh, the Chinese name for the bear and any images of him seem to have been blocked on major Chinese social media sites.

Why has this happened?

China's president's sensitivity to being compared to the bear. Credit: PA

Authorities in China are particularly sensitive to any criticism of the government or the president.

These references to Xi are seen as a way to mock him and challenge his authority – but indirectly, without openly criticising the president.

In June, China censored comedian John Oliver and HBO's website after the British talkshow host ran a segment on his US show, Last Week Tonight, criticising Xi and China.

In the roast, he also mentioned the President's sensitivity to being compared to the bear.

This may have contributed to a crackdown on references to Winnie the Pooh.

The movie

cast members attend the European premiere of Christopher Robin at the BFI Southbank in London. Credit: PA

Christopher Robin is a live action film starring Ewan McGregor as the leading role and tells the story of Robin reuniting with the honey-loving bear as an adult and rediscovering his playful imagination.