Disney Store Japan Sells Winnie the Pooh Shirt With China Protest Meme
- Japan’s Disney Store is selling products featuring Winnie the Pooh clutching a piece of blank paper.
- White paper has become a symbol of resistance in the protests against China’s zero-COVID policy.
- There’s a deeper layer, too: Pooh has repeatedly been banned in China because people compared Xi to the bear.
A line of merchandise featuring Winnie the Pooh holding up a blank white sheet of paper — the symbol of ongoing protests in China — is now available at Japan’s Disney Store.
The products, which range from t-shirts and hoodies to tote bags and mugs, seem to be limited only to Japan’s Disney Store, as they are not sold in the international Disney Store.
T-shirts sell for 4950 Yen, or $36, while mugs cost 2920 Yen. The most expensive product in the collection is a hoodie, which costs 8800 Yen. Phone cases seem to be the most popular, as they are no longer in stock as of print time.
The collection is based on a viral 2013 meme of Winnie the Pooh squinting at a blank piece of paper in the animation. Chinese individuals have previously likened the iconic Disney character to Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the meme resurfaced over the weekend with an added layer of meaning.
As major protests broke out in every major city in China, the blank sheet of paper emerged as a symbol of defiance against China’s draconian lockdown rules. People on the streets of Shanghai and Beijing brandished blank sheets of paper while chanting slogans like: “Government for the people, freedom for all.”
“The white paper represents everything we want to say but cannot say,” a 26-year-old man named Johnny told Reuters during the Liangma River protest on Monday, alluding to the Chinese government’s heavy censorship on protest-related information.
Winnie the Pooh is a politically loaded topic in China unto himself. Pooh has been repeatedly banned on Chinese social media over the past decade because of memes that point out similarities between Xi’s and Pooh’s appearances.
The words “Winnie the Pooh” were censored online in China in July 2017 before that year’s Communist Party Conference.
The phrase was banned again in March 2018 when people on the Twitter-like Weibo platform started using the meme to mock Xi’s intent to remove the two-term limit on China’s presidency, a move that essentially guaranteed him the top job for life. Weibo users poked fun at Xi by posting a picture of Winnie the Pooh embracing a honey pot, along with the caption: “Find the thing you love and stick with it.”
The Disney Store did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Cheryl Teh contributed to this report.