For years the Western media purports that the much loved Winnie the Pooh was banned in China because it looked too much alike President Xi. All not true – we have the facts.
Short introduction by Peter Hanseler
I am always thrilled when Felix Abt allows us to publish one of his great articles which he publishes on his own blog easteranlge.com.
Voice from Russia regularly criticises the very propagandist Western media where even flagship newspapers like the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung resort to unsavoury propaganda as shown in our article “Resist the beginnings! – Propaganda of the NZZ” where we showed that NZZ tells lies about Russia as a business concept.
In this article, Felix Abt assesses – among others – the NZZ with regard to its truthfulness about China.
Years ago, when I happened to see a large stall with lots of Winnie-the-Pooh products at the market in a medium-sized Chinese city, I stopped and was amazed. Hadn’t I recently read in the Western media that Winnie the Pooh had been banned in China?
The story of the banned plush bears, T-shirts and other Winnie the Pooh paraphernalia has been in the media ever since. One of the first was the BBC, which “reported” in 2017 that Winnie the Pooh had been banned in China.
A year later, in 2018, the leading German news magazine Der Spiegel “reported” that the “Chinese ruler” was afraid of Winnie the Pooh and that the cute toy bear should therefore be banned. “Because the bear looks like the ruler“, it said without joking. And the fact that Chinese people with bear-like facial features could be a racist slur didn’t bother the otherwise woke, morality-spouting Spiegel. It made the lofty claim that “images of Winnie the Pooh have long been banned in China – precisely to prevent Xi memes that are critical of the system.”
Better late than never: a full five years later, in 2023, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), perhaps the most influential newspaper in the German-speaking part of Europe, also “reported” on the Chinese head of state’s uncanny fear of bears. The NZZ cited the Winnie the Pooh ban as watertight proof of China’s all-encompassing repression (see screenshot).
Winnie-the-Pooh was also banned elsewhere because the bear was accused of being an “inappropriate hermaphrodite” with “dubious sexuality”. As this happened in a Polish and not a Chinese city, it was not worthy of a headline in the Western media.
None of these “reporters” who wrote about the oppression of the bear and its fans in China were on the ground to clarify the matter. Ideological beliefs have the power to replace facts in the media like never before.
Fortunately, today there are social media that not only spread nonsense and untruths like the traditional media, but also truth that cannot be found in the latter.
Foreigners living in China, who consume Western media less for information – that would be a waste of time – and more for amusement, have dared to post Winnie the Pooh on social media, as seen at Chinese markets or on T-shirts worn by Chinese people.
For example, Lee Barrett, who is British and lives in Shenzhen, recently tweeted photos from a Chinese store selling Winnie the Pooh products (see screenshot).
And Katrina, an American living in China, tweeted a picture of her Chinese neighbor’s car painted with Winnie the Pooh (see screenshot).
Where is the repression, dear NZZ? Now a new article with the telling title is probably due: “In unpredictable China, you can’t even rely on repression anymore!“