A social media star has been banned in China after laughing at memes used by Hong Kong protesters which compare the country’s President Xi to Winnie the Pooh.
‘The resemblance is uncanny,’ mocked PewDiePie, an influential YouTube uploader who has 101 million subscribers.
The 29-year-old video blogger also mocked international businesses for taking Beijing’s stance on the anti-government unrest ‘because of money’.
YouTube star PewDiePie (pictured in August) has been censored in China after mocking memes used by Hong Kong protesters that likened Chinese President Xi to Winnie the Pooh
A protester wears a mask blending the image of Chinese President Xi and Winnie the Pooh during a demonstration in Hong Kong to protest against a ban on face coverings on Friday
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s appearance was first compared to that of Winne the Pooh in 2013, prompting a large-scale clampdown on the beloved children’s character by Beijing
Hong Kong protesters wear masks of Chinese President Xi and Winnie the Pooh during in a rally on Sunday as demonstrators urge the city’s government to abolish an anti-mask law
‘Obviously China is like that one person on Twitter that can’t take any criticism and just blocks everyone,’ said PewDiePie last week in a video, which has been viewed more than four million times so far.
PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has amassed a multi-million dollar fortune as a video game commentator on YouTube.
The Swedish-born, UK-based internet star has the second biggest number of subscribers on the American video-sharing platform, which has been blocked in China since 2009.
In the 17-minute episode, which was posted last Wednesday, PewDiePie also derided companies and individuals, which in his view sided with Beijing due to commercial interests.
A protester covers his face with a paper bag displaying a Winnie the Pooh image as he takes part in the human chain rally in Sha Tin district in Hong Kong on Friday. PewDiePie showed a series of memes featuring Chinese President Xi and the cartoon bear to support Hong Kong
Protesters wear masks of Chinese President Xi in Hong Kong during a rally on Friday. Chinese government censors are highly sensitive to unfavourable depictions of their leader
A protester wearing a Winnie the Pooh’ mask joins others to form a human chain along a street in Hong Kong on Friday. China has been censoring pictures likening President Xi to Pooh
He showed a picture of NBA star LeBron James, who has faced backlashes in the United States after calling Houston Rockets general manager ‘misinformed’ for sending a tweet to support Hong Kong protesters.
PewDiePie then criticised American video game giant Blizzard after it stripped a professional gamer of his earnings and banned him from Hearthstone Esports because he shouted ‘liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times’ during a live-streamed interview.
‘Because Blizzard needs Chinese money, obviously. The biggest amount of sales in mobile games always comes from China,’ the blogger said.
Top online gamer Ng Wai Chung (pictured) from Hong Kong was expelled from an international eSports tournament by US video game giant Blizzard after showing support to protesters
The 21-year-old university student, who was wearing eye goggles and a gas mask – equipment frequently used by protesters in Hong Kong – pulled down his respirator to broadcast his message (right) during a live stream with the hosts (left). The online stream was cut off mid-interview shortly afterwards and quickly went to a commercial break
After that PewDiePie moved on to ridicule Beijing for blocking South Park. The long-running animated series had enraged the country after criticising its censorship over the honey-liking cartoon bear.
‘It’s all about pleasing China and following Chinese rule,’ PewDiePie said.
The YouTuber ended the episode by showing a series of popular memes featuring Chinese President Xi and Winnie the Pooh.
He then took one step further and teased the trend: ‘I feel like this is how war starts you know. If everyone is on board that this giant nation’s leader is an enemy and unanimously hate him.’
South Park was also banned in China after mocking Xi. In the plot from a controversial episode, Randy (right) gets arrested carrying marijuana into China, frustrating his plans to sell weed
Randy is then sent to a work camp, where he sees Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, who are imprisoned because the bear was used to mock Chinese President Xi Jinping
Although YouTube is banned in China, PewDiePie had gained a devoted following in the Far East after his YouTube clips had been uploaded to Chinese websites.
His remarks led Beijing’s censors to crack down on his online fan pages.
A popular forum about the YouTuber has been removed from China’s search engine provider Baidu, the country’s equivalent to Google.
A search of ‘PewDiePie’ on Baidu Tieba, a communication platform, shows the forum was removed ‘according to relevant law, regulation and policy’.
PewDiePie said he had foreseen the ban and called it ‘kinda funny’.
In a video posted on Saturday, he said: ‘Well boys, we did it. I’m banned from China,
‘That’s right (laughs). After I spoke about the Hong Kong protests and showed their leader being mocked for looking like Winnie the Pooh, I got banned from China. That’s right.’
He continued: ‘Now if you search anything PewDiePie related on any Reddit related forum in China or a YouTube related video, it will just be completely blank.
He then apologised to his fans in the country.
‘I’m laughing, but yeah I’m sorry if you’re in China and try to watch my videos.
‘That kinda sucks. It’s just kinda funny… like I knew it was going to happen.
‘The music artist Zedd got banned in China just because he liked a South Park tweet, so obviously me talking about the Hong Kong memes was going to get me banned.’
Winnie the Pooh, a lovable but dim-witted bear created by English author A. A. Milne, has become a symbol of dissent in China for its apparent resemblance to President Xi.
In 2013, Chinese net users circulated pictures (above) that placed an image of Pooh and his slender friend Tigger beside an image of Xi walking with then-US President Barack Obama
In 2014, a photographed handshake between President Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (not the one above) also sparked internet memes. Above, Abe and Xi shake hands before a group photo session for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, in September, 2017
The handshake between President Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been compared to an image of Pooh gripping the hoof of his gloomy donkey friend Eeyore (above)
Comparisons between Xi and Pooh first emerged in 2013, after Chinese social media users began circulating a pair of pictures that placed an image of Pooh and his slender tiger friend Tigger beside a photograph of Xi walking with then-US president Barack Obama.
In 2014, a photographed handshake between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was matched with an image of Pooh gripping the hoof of his gloomy donkey friend Eeyore.
Chinese government censors, who are highly sensitive to unfavourable depictions of their leader, has erased the images that mocked Xi on social media.
Last year, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh film, ‘Christopher Robin’, was denied release in the country.
While no official reason was given, observers linked the ban to the memes developed between the leader and the beloved children’s character.