A reversal of a ban on Chinese social media of one of Sussex’s most famous residents, Winnie the Pooh, has been called for by an MP.
Wealden MP Nus Ghani has called for China to reconsider the censorship.
A statement from the MP says that authorities in China have deleted online comments referencing Winnie the Pooh, who is known in Chinese as xiao xiong wei ni (or ‘Winnie the Little Bear), leaving users with an error message which reads, ‘This content is illegal’.
Pictures and GIFs featuring the character have also been removed from WeChat, a messaging app used by almost 900 million people in China.
No explanation has been given for the ban but Winnie the Pooh has been compared to the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in the past and it is believed this may be the basis for the ban, especially as it has come in the run up to China’s 19th Communist Party Congress.
In the popular books by AA Milne, Winnie the Pooh and his friends live in the Hundred Acre Wood, which is based on the Ashdown Forest in Wealden; as such, he is a treasured local character.
Tourists from all over the world, including China, visit Wealden to explore the home of Pooh bear and visit the original Poohsticks Bridge in the Ashdown Forest.
Commenting on the censorship, Ms Ghani said: “It is a great shame that the Chinese government have felt the need to censor Winnie the Pooh. Censorship is a significant issue in China and blocking the much loved Winnie the Pooh may seem minor but reflects the much larger issue of freedom of speech.
“There is much that can be learned from the Winnie the Pooh books by children and adults alike; indeed, in my maiden speech in 2015 I was proud to reference Winnie the Pooh with a quote from the books that I feel politicians should take to heart: ‘You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.’
“I have endeavoured to follow that advice and I hope that others will consider it as well.”