China Censors John Oliver Because President Xi Looks A Bit Like Winnie The Pooh

from the thin-skinned dept

Whatever you do, don't point out that some people think China's President Xi Jinping vaguely resembles Winnie the Pooh.

HBO Comedian John Oliver recently learned this the hard way when Chinese users of popular social networking website Weibo found they weren't able to mention Oliver by name without receiving an error message stating such comments violated "rules and regulations." After that, censorship monitor GreatFire.org indicated that HBO’s website was blocked entirely for the lion's share of the country since last weekend.

The cause of China's efforts to remove Oliver from the internet? This recent twenty minute segment took a semi-deep dive into China's political leadership, noting their abolition of term limits, ongoing censorship, the routine murder and/or imprisonment of political dissidents, the country's rather terrifying implementation of "citizen scores," and oh -- the fact that some people think that Chinese President Xi has a semi-decent resemblance to a rotund, honey-adoring cartoon:

"Apparently, Xi Jinping is very sensitive about his perceived resemblance to Winnie the Pooh,” Mr. Oliver said on the show. “And I’m not even sure it’s that strong a resemblance, to be honest. But the fact he’s annoyed about it means people will never stop bringing it up."

Like most Chinese internet censorship, more technical users can get around the attempt to remove Oliver from the Chinese internet by using a VPN. That said, like Russia and other countries, China has been busy saddling VPN vendors with all manner of cumbersome restrictions as part of an effort to effectively ban the technology from widespread use. Last year, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology declared that all VPN providers now needed prior government approval to operate, imposing fines up to $2000 on companies offering "unsanctioned" VPNs (read: nearly all of them).

Of course the censorship only proves Oliver's point: that the country remains entirely intolerant to free speech, Xi has arguably thin skin, and the Chinese leader does, in fact, strike a fleeting resemblance to a certain pantless bear with self-esteem issues and an eating disorder:


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  • icon
    wereisjessicahyde (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 10:55am

    You learn something new every day

    It never even crossed my mind that China's President Xi Jinping vaguely resembles Winnie the Pooh. But, now you mention it....

    Table for Ms Streisand.... There you go, can I get you some drinks? Perhaps an aperitif? The sea bass is excellent tonight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:00am

    China censors...

    Because, of course they do?

    Having a long standing sensitivity of criticism of the state and of officials, this is right in character of the Chinese Administration.

    It's one of the reasons the people of China strive to work around state censorship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hij (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:07am

    The world needs more narcissists

    Disappear a whole media company for one monologue. Interesting. The Tao of Xi is not nearly as adorable as the Tao of Pooh, and smells a bit more like poo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:54am

    HBOs comment on this was simply "Oh bother".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 12:05pm

    Wait, so Obama is Tigger? Somehow that makes me feel uncomfortable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 12:40pm

    "HBO Comedian John Oliver recently learned this the hard way when Chinese users of popular social networking website Weibo found they weren't able to mention Oliver by name..."

    I'm sure Mr. Oliver is feeling butthurt by this action. Doubtless from falling on his ass laughing so hard.

    Remember, the Streisand Effect treats censorship as damage and routes around it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DOlz (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 9:06pm

      Re:

      "Remember, the Streisand Effect treats censorship as damage and routes around it.”

      But only after putting up big flashing neon arrows at it screaming, look at this.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 12:42pm

    I note with amusement that when I scroll down after reading this article, the next thing I encounter is a Daily Deal for a VPN service. Well played, sirs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 12:52pm

    The hard way?

    HBO Comedian John Oliver recently learned this the hard way when Chinese users of popular social networking website Weibo found they weren't able to mention Oliver by name without receiving an error message stating such comments violated "rules and regulations."

    If you think that, then you don't know John Oliver. I have no doubt he knew exactly what would happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 26 Jun 2018 @ 1:20pm

      Re: The hard way?

      Indeed, just a couple of articles down a commenter noted Oliver's recent bit about his show being censored in the UK due to laws against mocking parliament. He recorded an entirely separate segment for the UK airing of his show.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeDetroit (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 2:02pm

        Re: Re: The hard way?

        Yes, he filled the part that was censored in the UK with five minutes of footage of Gilbert Gottfried reading three-star Yelp reviews of restaurants in Boise, Idaho.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 1:20pm

    " and the Chinese leader does, in fact, strike a fleeting resemblance to a certain pantless bear with self-esteem issues and an eating disorder: "

    And thus Techdirt landed itself on the Chinese censored list. And I'm laughing.

    Mike reportedly commented on the issue: "Oh bother." (credits to our commenter discordian_eris!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 1:28pm

    A Pooh bear?

    I always thought he looks like someone near him just farted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Darkhog, 26 Jun 2018 @ 2:01pm

    Down with Xi the Pooh!

    Or was it Winnie Jinping? I'm really confused now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 5:40pm

    Gotta love those own-goals

    So a simple comparison to a character from a children's book/show is enough to bring down the hammer, showing a thickness of skin that would make Turkey's tin-pot dictator proud.

    If something as simple and harmless as that is enough to bring out the censors I'd say it's fairly safe to assume that much, much worse and damning things are being regularly hidden from the public, both in china and out.

    On the plus side, if they are this desperate to clamp down on any dissent and/or criticism then it might be an indicator that they know they're on increasingly shaky footing, and the public they rule over is gradually waking up to just how benevolent the chinese government is not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 6:19pm

    Gollum, Gollum

    It seems to be a growing tend for leaders of countries to take great personal offense to being compared to fictional characters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 26 Jun 2018 @ 6:51pm

    Poor Pooh

    I feel sorry for Winnie the Pooh.

    He also looks a bit like a Guinea pig I once had. We could name him JinniePig.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    nematoad, 27 Jun 2018 @ 3:03am

    John Oliver

    It's not just China that is unable to see John Oliver's piece on Xi Jinping.

    I just tried to watch the segment from a UK IP address and Youtube refuses to oblige.

    What's the problem Youtube, are we not worthy?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Jun 2018 @ 10:46am

      A lot of news about UK censorship

      This may not correlate at all, but we have been getting news about a) you having to go to the local chemists to get your secret porn code, and b) the porn-blocking algorithms censoring all sorts of other stuff like Disney.

      So it might be that YouTube has been advised by your state that no, the British laity are not worthy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 29 Jun 2018 @ 2:30am

        Re: A lot of news about UK censorship

        It's a geo-block. What really annoys me about this is that even if you offer to pay for access they're having none of it. I've given up trying to be good — a Pirate's life for me.

        Seriously, make it affordable AND accessible and I'll change my attitude. Until then, copyright can go stuff itself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 29 Jun 2018 @ 3:52am

          Re: Re: A lot of news about UK censorship

          It's not even just "affordable and accessible".

          The watchword on all of that is, or should be, "convenience".

          As long as the sum of convenience minus inconvenience on the legal side of the divide is outweighed by the equivalent sum on the illegal side of the divide, people will continue to choose the illegal side. (And, of course, different people weigh individual convenient vs. inconvenient component factors differently.)

          Having to pay is an inconvenience; so is risking penalties under the law. Being able to find what you want easily is a convenience; so is being able to access it from any device. There are many others, some on one side and some on the other, and some which apply in different ways to both.

          If you want to change the balance of the equation so that people choose the legal side more often, you need to either increase convenience on the legal side, or decrease it on the illegal one.

          What the industry companies have seemed to tend to do, however, is to pair each increase in convenience on the legal side with something that also decreases convenience on the same side; for example, pairing legal streaming with mandatory ad breaks, and/or with "you can't get it all in one central place, you have to get our stuff directly from us", and/or with geoblocking.

          Adding both a positive and a negative to the legal side of the equation isn't a good way to tip the balance of the equation in that direction.

          If any prospective change in what they offer on these matters were assessed in terms of the convenience equation, with price being only one element of convenience, I think that might significantly change the resulting picture.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Manok, 27 Jun 2018 @ 3:29am

    Damn, because of this article TechDirt will no longer be reachable in China.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Qrius, 6 Jul 2018 @ 5:56am

    Lol Its Awesome

    Lol Its Funny,

    It's Realty

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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