The military stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops on the Line of Actual Control has escalated and led to deadly clashes. Twenty Indian Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed in clashes with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades.
This is the biggest confrontation between the two troops after the 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while over 300 Chinese army personnel were killed in the confrontation.
Soon after the news of the confrontation broke, Indian Twitter did they what they do best - unleashed a war on Chinese President Xi Jinping on social media. And they did so by trending a hashtag, #WinnieThePooh.
What does the cute, chubby bear have to do with China? Turns out, the Chinese government hates the beloved cartoon, Winnie the Pooh.
To give you some context, it began in 2013 when Xi Jinping traveled to the US on an official visit and he was snapped with then President, Barrack Obama. The photo of the two of them walking soon went viral and several bloggers pointed out it had similarities with a popular cartoon. The scene reminded them of a scene from the Winnie the Pooh series featuring Winnie himself and Tigger.
Needless to say, Tigger was Obama and Winnie was Jinping. Here's a photo we found on Twitter archives:
This was not all. In the following year, a photo of Jinping and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was given the same treatment. Only this time, Abe became the melancholic donkey in Winnie the Pooh.
An article by the South China Morning Post suggested that this could actually be a blessing in disguise. While most bloggers were poking fun at the Chinese president, the government could actually spin this around to favour them. They could use this to save China's deteriorating reputation in front of the rest of the world. The writer said that this could be a positive PR campaign for Jinping and he could use it to improve foreign relations.
But alas, that was not to happen. Jinping saw it as an attack on his dignity and decided to censor Chinese media, including social media platforms.
The viral photo of 2015, which consisted of a collage of Jinping during a parade and Pooh peeping out of a kids' toy car, was the final nail in the coffin. The meme which had been circulated widely on social media soon became the most censored photo of the year.
While most saw it as some harmless fun, the government saw it as undermining the authority of the presidential office and that of the president himself. Jinping, who has ironically always tried to present himself as a benevolent leader, hated being compared to every child's favourite cartoon character China simply could not bear the thought of having the cute yellow bear becoming symbolic of their leader.
Thus, began China's censorship woes. Anything related to Winnie the Pooh - toys, movies, TV series - everything was banned in China. The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 reported that Christopher Robin's movie about Pooh was banned in China.
Ever since then, any attack on China on social media has been incomplete without reference to Winnie the Pooh. In fact, every time Xi Jinping makes a move, the hashtags begin trending globally on Twitter.
Monday's clash between Indian and Chinese troops have been no different. Take a look:
You don't want war. Go to china and say #WinnieThePooh we don't war. — LALIT SHARMA (@LALITSHARMAHP) June 17, 2020
When will the truth come out about the huge amount of corruption and cover ups curtesy of #XiJinping aka #winniethepooh . It’s truly sad when certain western media is reporting the propaganda like it’s facts when we know that many more people have died in China then mentioned. — Mo Bahar (@CrypticTradeBTC) June 16, 2020
You so called lizards are always manipulated by that idiot #winniethepooh. Go, Have some bat soup. — Aman Surkar (@amansurkar) June 17, 2020
With tensions between India and China on the rise, Indian Twitter has decided to use these comparisons and memes to attack the Chinese leadership.
In India, the Army, Air Force and Navy have been told to be “prepared for the worst” and placed on the highest level of alert at present. This conflict comes at an inopportune moment when both governments are grappling to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Army, Air Force and Navy have been told to be “prepared for the worst” and placed on the highest level of alert, sources told News18. All three service chiefs and CDS General Bipin Rawat were earlier huddled in a meeting with defence minister Rajnath Singh. Sources added that the local commander has been given a free hand and told to give a befitting reply “irrespective of what the Standard Operating Procedure says”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for an all-party meeting at 5 PM on 19th June. Presidents of various political parties would take part in this virtual meeting.