As the A4 “white paper” movement sweeps through China, a confused Winnie the Pooh is trying to read a blank piece of paper.

You may have encountered this meme somewhere in the past. It was extracted from a Winnie the Pooh episode aired back in 2011. Once in a while, the internet loves referencing it when describing perplexity.

With the white paper becoming an icon of China’s “zero-COVID” protests, the meme arose again with uncanny relevance. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) outlawed Disney animation in July 2017, before the 19th Communist Party Conference. The ban came after the fictional bear was increasingly used to imply Xi Jinping. 

Meanwhile, during the anti-lockdown protests in late November, the white paper was used as a metaphor for China’s censorship system. Each protester waved their blank placard to demonstrate everything they wished they could say but couldn’t.

Human rights activist Teng said the white paper also offered more protection. Teng told CBC News, “Holding a blank sheet of paper is a way to reduce the political and legal risk. When being arrested or interrogated, people argue that there’s nothing there.”

At some point during the days-long protests, the uproar evolved to challenge Xi’s authority by demanding he step down. 
Japan’s Disney Store has a range of products that feature the frowning bear moment. T-shirts cost $36 (almost 5000 Yen), while mugs are about $22. A hoodie in the collection is the priciest item, priced at just over $65. Business Insider said phone cases were sold out as of December 1. The items are not offered for sale in international Disney stores.

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