Skip to content
Viewers Find Winnie the Pooh, Symbol of Chinese Anti-Communism, in Peng Shuai Selfie

Missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai appeared this weekend in mysterious photos that included an image of Winnie the Pooh, who has become a symbol of resistance against Communist dictator Xi Jinping, the Australian agency reported on Wednesday. ABC News.

The photos surfaced online via a Chinese state propagandist on Twitter, a social media outlet the regime prohibits most Chinese citizens from using. Shen Shiwei claimed that Peng posted the images, all showing Peng surrounded by stuffed animals, on his WeChat account. WeChat is a communication application controlled by the Chinese regime.

The alleged photos from WeChat, along with undated videos from state propaganda media World time and a bizarre, partially blurred photo of an alleged video chat with Peng from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), are the only evidence available at press time that Peng is alive and safe. Wimbledon and Roland Garros doubles champion Peng disappeared this month after posting an explosive update from Weibo, the Chinese regime-controlled alternative to Facebook, in which she blamed the former vice-president. Chinese Premier Zhang Gaoli for raping her. The post disappeared from Weibo almost immediately, as did Peng from public life.

In addition to accusing Zhang of raping her, she wrote that their first meeting led to a long-term affair apparently tolerated by his wife. Peng repeatedly refers to her hatred of herself, writing, “I shouldn’t have come to this world, but I didn’t have the courage to die.”

The severity of Peng’s seemingly grief in the post has left many puzzled over instances in the Chinese regime-controlled media that Peng is just “doing well.” Pictures released over the weekend appeared to show a cheerful Peng frolicking among stuffed animals. The images notably circulated on WeChat and Twitter, not Weibo, where discussion of Peng’s disappearance was almost non-existent.

The image of Peng holding a panda, a creature the Communist Party often uses in its propaganda, also featured in the background a framed photo of Peng with Winnie the Pooh. The appearance of the cartoon character led some Chinese pundits to speculate, ABC News reported on Wednesday that Peng was actively trying to tell the world that she remained a hostage. It is unclear how such an image escaped Chinese censors, who regularly clean up images of Winnie the Pooh from social media to avoid offending Xi.

University expert in China – and victim of Chinese censorship via Bloomberg News – Leta Hong Fincher described the appearance of Pooh in her images as a “distress signal”.

Peng also appears to wear Adidas, a brand that has been the subject of a short-term boycott in China this year for announcing it will attempt not to use cotton picked by slaves in China. Xi imprisoned millions of Muslim ethnic minorities in concentration camps, sending many to the cotton fields to engage in slave labor.

Chinese Communist regime censors banned Pooh in 2017 after a photo of Xi and Obama began circulating on social media alongside an image of Pooh and his comic book friend Tigger.

The photos compared the tall, thin Obama to Tigger and the little pot-bellied teddy bear to Xi. Xi’s apparent sensitivity to jokes on his face emboldened dissidents to substitute Pooh for Xi in critical texts and illustrations, turning Pooh’s image into an international symbol against communism.

Xi continued to attempt to censor the honey-loving bear, including outside China’s borders. In 2018, during Xi’s visit to the country, Spanish authorities banned a street performer disguised as Winnie the Pooh from Madrid’s Sol Square because Xi’s procession was about to pass.

“I didn’t make a fuss about it. It was only 20 or 30 minutes. If it’s offensive, I understand that they are asking me to withdraw, ”the artist said at the time.

Chinese Communist regime censors banned Pooh in 2017 after a photo of Xi and Obama began circulating on social media alongside an image of Pooh and his comic book friend Tigger.

In contrast, the administration of former President Donald Trump made it clear that they were aware of the Pooh meme in 2020, when then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on the media. social a photo of her dog chewing on a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal – an image many considered a reference to China.

Most recently, NBA star Enes Kanter wore sneakers on the court with his team, the Boston Celtics, sporting an image of himself holding Winnie the Pooh’s severed head, a direct reference to Xi. Kanter launched a campaign this month against the Chinese Communist Party’s long list of human rights violations.

Winnie the Pooh also began to surface in critical art specifically demanding the safety and freedom of Peng Shuai.

The tennis world has aggressively embraced Peng’s cause, leading almost every big star in the sport to issue statements expressing concern for his safety. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has threatened to pull its company estimated to be in the millions of China if Beijing does not adequately address the situation.

WTA Chairman Steve Simon dismissed the weekend’s bizarre footage and an alleged bizarre e-mail from “Peng” published by Chinese regime media as insufficient proof of his safety.

In contrast, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was due to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, released an undated photo that allegedly showed its president, Thomas Bach, speaking to Peng via video call. . The IOC claimed that Peng was “fine” and that he would meet Bach for dinner upon his arrival in Beijing.

China’s foreign ministry tried to ignore growing calls for Peng’s freedom last week, saying the issue was not “diplomatic” and therefore outside its purview. Spokesman Zhao Lijian changed his tone on Tuesday, saying that those concerned about Peng “are deliberately and maliciously exaggerating” the situation.

Zhao referred to the IOC photo as proof that Peng was free.

The Chinese Communist Party regularly makes disturbing people disappear. The US government estimates that up to 3 million people have disappeared in concentration camps in the occupied East Turkestan region, home to the oppressed Uyghur minority.

The most prominent person in China’s recent disappearance is Meng Hongwei, who was the chairman of Interpol at the time of his disappearance in 2018. Meng resurfaced in 2019 in a video of police hostages; authorities claimed he was guilty of accepting bribes while he was a public security official in China and took him to China’s abusive prison system.

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.