"I like fiery passion, actually." - Olympus
Question #92714 posted on 10/25/2019 4:43 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Is there actually any chance that people are going to get disney and activison blizzard banned in China? How did China even end up banning Winnie the Pooh? I thought they used Weibo instead of Twitter, so how were the WtP memes even brought to the Chinese government's attention?

A:

Dear nameless,

I'm tackling your questions in reverse order.

How did China even end up banning Winnie the Pooh? I thought they used Weibo instead of Twitter, so how were the WtP memes even brought to the Chinese government's attention?

It turns out that the Winnie the Pooh memes were not confined to Twitter - they were on Weibo as well, according to the Financial Times report.

Is there a chance that Disney will be banned in China?

I think that Disney stands a better chance of being banned than Activision Blizzard does, since the Winnie the Pooh meme is anti-Chinese government (at least, according to Xi Jinping. I think there are worse characters to be compared to, but I'm not the president of China, so I guess that's not my call).

I guess my answer to this question depends on your definition of "banned." Many (although notably, not all) references to Winnie the Pooh have already been censored on Chinese social media and the Christopher Robin movie was not released in China because of the meme. If that sort of censorship counts, I think it's reasonably likely that something similar might happen again. I do not think the government would hesitate to censor other Disney characters, movies, or memes that stand a chance of being interpreted as anti-China. But if you're talking about a company-wide ban, Disney is popular enough that I doubt something like that would happen unless Disney itself took a stance against the government.

Is there a chance that Activision Blizzard will be banned in China?

Activision Blizzard actually has the opposite problem of Disney. Blizzard banned Blitzchung, a professional gamer, for expressing support for the protesters in Hong Kong. Officially, Blitzchung was banned because he violated the rule that no player should "[engage] in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image” (source). The move has been widely interpreted as an attempt to preserve Blizzard's place in the Chinese e-sports market at the cost of supporting free speech (Blizzard denies that business in China had any influence on their decision). As it stands, China has no reason to ban Blizzard, since their actions have been widely interpreted as in line with the government's interests.

If I had to guess, I'd say that neither company is likely to suffer a ban in China.

Best,

Josefina