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China Taunt Pic? Pompeo tweets his dog with Winnie the Pooh chew toy, possibly mocking China’s Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
July 15, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a photo on Tuesday that may be a veiled mockery of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Pompeo tweeted the photo of his Golden Retriever puppy Mercer along with the caption “Mercer and all of her favorite toys!” on his personal Twitter account. In the photo along with the dog, however, is a stuffed Winnie the Pooh bear toy, a Disney character which Xi Jinping has been compared to and mocked over, prompting China to blacklist the character.

The first known comparison of Xi with Pooh occurred in 2013 when an internet user posted a photo of Disney characters Pooh and Tigger walking together alongside a photo of Xi walking together with then-President Barack Obama.

The photo went viral and became a target for Chinese censors. Other photos comparing Xi to Pooh have continued to pop up over the years, prompting China to begin censoring the images, from erasing the images entirely to blocking websites that included mocking content. China even added “Winnie the Pooh” to its internet blacklist, according to Global Risk Insights.

Xi was compared to Pooh again in 2014 when he met Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who was also compared to the donkey character Eeyore.

In 2015, a photo of Xi standing through the sunroof of a car during a parade was compared alongside a Pooh car toy and reportedly became China’s most censored image of 2015, Global Risk Insights said.

In 2018, China blocked the HBO network’s website after John Oliver aired a parody of Xi Jinping and Pooh, the Guardian reported at the time. Oliver had poked fun at Xi’s sensitivity toward memes comparing him with Pooh.

Also in 2018, China banned the Disney film “Christopher Robin,” a live-action film featuring the Winnie the Pooh characters.

Pompeo’s tweet landed on the same day President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which sanctions Chinese individuals and entities for failing to recognize Hong Kong’s autonomy. Trump also signed an executive order which ended preferential treatment for Hong Kong, declaring it to be treated the same as mainland China.