Monday, March 12, 2018

China even sensors some Winnie the Pooh memes

Negative social media reactions towards the government's plan to change the Chinese constitution so as to abolish term limits for the presidency has resulted in censorship of social media to remove critical and sarcastic remarks.
The change in the constitution is to be voted on in March. If it goes through, President Xi Jinping would extend his rule beyond his slated 2023 term limit, and preside over China indefinitely.
Winnie the Pooh the bad bear
A number of Chinese critics of the change took to social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo using Winnie the Pooh memes as a critical vehicle. Winnie the Pooh has long been associated with President Xi Jinping whom he is thought to resemble. Like Pooh, Ping has a rotund face and nose.
This is not the first time Winnie has been subject to censorship as an earlier report in Digital Journal shows.
One post shows Winnie with a crown on a throne enjoying his honey pot. It took several hours after the Central Committee announcement for the posts to be taken down showing that perhaps that authorities were not expecting a flood of unfavorable comments. Usually such negative comments disappear much more quickly.
Some negative comments
On Weibo one user wrote: “Our emperor has received the Mandate of Heaven, so we have to kneel and accept.”
FreeWeibo another website had a comment that said: “Amendments to the constitution are usually supposed to promote people’s freedom and limit public power. An amendment that proposes to do the exact opposite is so unheard of, I didn’t expect to encounter it at all. What a great era we live in.”
One comment even pointed out that China appeared to be following the lead of North Korea in making the leader's position permanent. The Kim family has ruled there well over half a century.
An assortment of phrases banned
An assortment of phrases were banned including "constitution amendment", "re-elected", "proclaim oneself as emperor" and "two term limit".
If you try to compose a message using "Winnie the Pooh" on WeChat you get an error message.
Critics adopt means of avoiding censorship
Generally in China people are not allowed to make fun of leaders on social media and there is constant censorship by authorities. However, critics develop hidden messages, and use slang to get around the censorship. They also use VPN's to get around the official firewall.

Published previously in Digital Journal

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