Why does President Xi Jinping of China dislike being compared to Winnie-the-Pooh? The new film about Christopher Robin and his teddy bear has been banned in China, apparently because Chinese dissidents make the comparison. True, Pooh is a bear of very little brain, lacks leadership skills and is somewhat stout, but it seems a friendly thought all the same. Wouldn’t a dictator be pleased to be considered cuddly?
It is interesting that characters from children’s books are seen as subversive. Saparmurat Niyazov (‘Turkmenbashi’), the late dictator of Turkmenistan, passed a law banning anyone from dressing up as a hobbit. I wonder if, in Pooh’s case, there is some cultural misunderstanding. Have President’s Xi’s advisers on British culture in some way conflated (as I did as a child) Pooh-bear with Pooh-bah from the Mikado? A Pooh-bah echo would be doubly upsetting to President Xi since the original is both Japanese and useless.
This is an extract from Charles Moore's notes. The full article can be read here.