The amazing memes showing how China’s internet has reacted to Xi as perpetual president
Looks like you can expect many more Winnie the Pooh memes for years to come
In the wake of yesterday’s historic announcement that China plans to do away with its two-term limit on the office of the president, clearing the way for Xi Jinping to stick around after 2023, memes have been popping up on Chinese social media only a bit faster than censors can take them down.
Most popular among these is none other than Winnie the Pooh, or as he has been anointed by netizens, “Emperor Winnie.”
In case you’re not aware, this honey-loving resident of the Hundred Acre Wood has run afoul of Chinese censors in the past, being banned on Weibo last July due to past memes which have compared the Chinese president with the adorable, if slow-witted, bear.
Back in 2013, images of Xi taking an outdoor stroll with US President Barack Obama at the Sunnylands Estate in California went viral after the two reminded Chinese netizens of another set of BFFs:
While Xi has apparently failed to see the humor in these comparisons, China’s internet users are doggedly sticking with it. Here’s one image that has been making the rounds on WeChat:
And here’s a popular, non-Winnie the Pooh related meme, which reads: “My mom said that I have to get married before Xi Dada’s term in office ends. Now I can breathe a long sigh of relief.”
Reactions on Chinese social media to the proposed change in China’s constitution have been heavily censored. According to Free Weibo, the top ten most censored terms for today include: “Serve another term,” “amend the constitution,” “constitution,” “Xi Jinping,” “Yuan Shikai,” “ascend to the throne,” “term of office,” “Winnie,” and “immigration.”
Yuan Shikai served as the first official president of the Republic of China following the fall of the Qing dynasty, before then trying to start a new dynasty of his own, proclaiming himself as the Hongxian Emperor in 1915 — a decision which sparked protests on the street in China and led even Yuan’s closest allies to finally abandon him. He died a short time later of uremia.
Meanwhile, as for that last term, “immigration,” a photo has also been making the rounds showing how the number of people searching for the word “immigration” on Baidu surged yesterday after the proposal to end the two-term limit was announced.
China social media watchers have also noted a number of other terms that have banned in the aftermath:
When asked about the plan to scrap the two-term limit on the presidency at a regular press conference earlier today in Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman responded, predictably, that the matter of amending the constitution is only the concern of the Chinese people, and not anyone else’s business.
However, the proposed change has been dramatically downplayed on Chinese media outlets, not even garnering a mention on the front pages of some newspapers:
While discussion of the proposal has been shut down on the Chinese internet, it’s pretty much the only thing that the China Twittersphere is talking about at the moment. Here are a few more of our favorite posts:
Finally, we would be remiss not to link to this piece from 2013 by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, which is being mocked yet again for turning out to have not aged terribly well.
For a complete translation of the proposed changes to China’s constitution, check out the impeccable work done by the NPC Observer blog.