TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Images have surfaced on Weibo (the Chinese equivalent to Twitter) showing a person at a cosplay convention in China dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh in a dragon robe, in an apparent reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Two photos of a person at a cosplay convention in China described as "Winnie-the-Pooh wearing a dragon robe" have recently been circulating on Weibo, causing not only netizens to worry about the cosplayer's safety, but also prompting Taiwanese New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) to say, "I hope he is safe."
In one image, a cosplayer dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh wearing the robe of a Qing Dynasty emperor appears to be holding an imperial decree in one hand, while another photo shows him with his hands on his hips. All images of Winnie-the-Pooh have been banned in China, as the character has been often been used to poke fun at Xi. The emperor's robe is likely in reference the fact that he made himself exempt from presidential term limits in March of this year, in effect making himself president for life.
On his Facebook page, Huang posted a photo of the cosplayer, praised him for his creativity and bravery, and wrote, "I admire him very much, and I hope he is alright."
Chinese cosplayer. (Weibo image)
Many Taiwanese netizens on Professional Technology Temple (PTT) admired the brave cosplayer and expressed concern for his wellbeing:
"Chinese young people are even braver than Taiwanese."
"It seems he did this last year as well, I heard he was pursued by police."
"A real brave man."
"In your next life do not be a Chinese person, take care."
"I wish I could give him the courage of the year award."
"He will be made to disappear."
On Aug. 3, news broke on the Hollywood Reporter that China had banned the live-action Disney movie featuring Pooh, "Christopher Robin," possibly because of its campaign against comparisons between China's rotund President Xi and the chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff. The first light-hearted comparison between Xi and Pooh reportedly surfaced in 2013 when Obama met with the Chinese leader, and netizens compared the former to Pooh's lanky friend Tigger.
Chinese netizens jokingly compared Xi and Obama to Pooh and Tigger in 2013. (Weibo image)
In response, MOFA posted a tweet on Aug. 7 which claimed that OhBear was "dismayed" by the ban on his cuddly "cousin Winnie" in China. The tweet, which gained over 400 likes, also poked fun at China's grisly human rights record by emphasizing that Taiwan treats all bears equally (cartoon or otherwise) and proudly boasted that the film "Christopher Robin" is showing in theaters across Taiwan.
Winnie the Pooh (left, pngimg.com), OhBear (MOFA Twitter).
A similar comparison was made with Xi as Pooh and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Eeyore, the sad donkey. An image of Xi riding through the roof of a parade car with a picture of Winnie in a little toy car super imposed on top was named the "most censored image of 2015" by political consultancy Global Risk Insights."
Chinese netizens compared Japan's Abe and China's Xi to Eeyore and Pooh. (Weibo image)
In July of 2017, images of the seemingly cuddly and innocuous bear were blocked on China's Twitter-like platform Weibo, its messaging app WeChat, and even the ancient messaging tool QQ, as the lead-up to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing intensified.
Image of Pooh next to Xi in his limo was also banned. (Image from lihkg.com)
Chinese cosplayer. (Weibo image)