Here's why Winnie the Pooh is banned in China. The now-famous bear was created by author A.A. Milne almost 100 years ago. The honey-loving bear debuted in 1926's Winnie-the-Pooh collection of stories and soon was featured in more literary works by Milne. The popularity of Pooh eventually began to span the entire globe, as these books were translated into multiple languages for kids around the world to enjoy.
Pooh became even more widely known and accessible over the last 50 years under the control of Disney. The studio produced several animated movies, shorts, and TV shows starring Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. Most recently, Disney used the characters as part of the live-action Christopher Robin movie from 2018. Christopher Robin received positive reviews but made less than $200 million worldwide. This release did not include a Chinese rollout though, and that's because the country censored all Winnie the Pooh content as the result of memes (really).
It all started in 2013 when China's President Xi Jinping began to be compared to Winnie the Pooh. While visiting the United States, he was photographed walking with Barack Obama. Some began to point to the similarities with that photo and one of Pooh and Tigger walking side-by-side (as seen below). The comparisons continued for the next several years, resulting in China's censors taking action in 2018. They've since scrubbed Weibo, a popular social media site in China, of any Winnie the Pooh material. This is believed to be one of the big reasons why Christopher Robin was denied a release in the Middle Kingdom.
As silly as it may sound to ban Winnie the Pooh online and in entertainment, the character has grown beyond that. Pooh is no longer the sweet character that he was created to be. He has instead become a symbol of resistance against Xi Jinping's rule in China. As Jinping is not a fan of these comparisons, those who criticize his rule have only continued to use the bear when possible.
At this time, there is no end in sight for the Winnie the Pooh ban to be lifted in China either. Jinping was re-elected as President of China in 2018 and abolished the 6-year term limit in the process. He can effectively be their ruler for the rest of his life. Considering how prominent of a symbol against him Winnie the Pooh has become, it would be surprising to see the ban lifted anytime soon. It may very well stay in place until someone else leads the Middle Kingdom, but that may be quite some time. Until that or a sudden change happens though, Winnie the Pooh will remain exiled from China all because of some memes.