Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chinese censors pooh-pooh resemblance

From The National Post.

Chinese internet censors are up in arms as bloggers note uncanny resemblance between Winnie the Pooh and China’s president.

China’s army of Internet censors has picked an unusual target in its battle to wipe dissent from the country’s computer screens: Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.

Following the recent California summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, Chinese micro-bloggers picked up on an uncanny resemblance between a photograph of the two strolling through the Sunnylands estate and a cartoon image of AA Milne’s cartoon creations. The two images were published side by side this week on the Chinese social media site Weibo.

But the posts were almost immediately “harmonized”, as censors appeared to take exception to the comparison between their president and a podgy bear with a penchant for honey. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said overzealous censors had “nipped in the bud what could have been a positive PR campaign, tailor-made for President Xi Jinping”.

A recent Harvard study, which analysed millions of micro-blog posts, concluded that those “with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not more likely to be censored” than others. The study found that the censors’ key aim was to curtail “collective action by silencing comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization”. There is no suggestion that Winnie the Pooh or Tigger had been plotting to stir up social unrest in China.

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