Winnie the Pooh has been blacked out from Chinese social media in the lead-up to the country's 19th Communist Party Congress this fall, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
No official explanation was given, but the FT cited observers who said the crackdown may be related to past comparisons of the physical appearance of President Xi Jinping to the fictional bear. One observer said "talking about the president" appeared to be among activities deemed sensitive ahead of the upcoming party congress, when leadership renewal is expected.
The following year, the comparison was extended to Xi's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was pictured as Eeyore, the sad donkey, alongside the bear.
Comparisons between Xi and Disney -owned Winnie the Pooh first circulated in 2013 during the Chinese leader's visit with then U.S. President Barack Obama .
A photo of Xi standing up through the roof of a parade car, next to a picture of Winnie the Pooh in a toy car, was named the "most censored image of 2015" by political consultancy Global Risk Insights.
The FT report said posts with the Chinese name of the portly character were censored on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo. A collection of animated gifs featuring the bear were also removed from social messaging app WeChat, according to the FT.