Mike Pompeo
File image of secretary of state Mike Pompeo | Wikimedia Commons
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New Delhi: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday tweeted a photograph of his dog, Mercer, with “all her favourite toys” — including a stuffed Winnie the Pooh.

However, this seemingly innocuous tweet was the subject of much speculation on social media, with several users, including US political scientist Ian Bremmer, suggesting that it was an indirect swipe at Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Bremmer reshared the picture and noted, “State of US-China relations: this pic posted by Sec State Pompeo on his personal Twitter—of his dog with a Winnie the Pooh toy—has Chinese netizens speculating whether it’s a coded insult to Beijing. (Pooh is a common derogatory nickname for Xi & censored in China). Answer: Yes.”

‘Winnie the Pooh’ is a common derogatory nickname for President Xi, who has been compared to the cartoon character’s body shape. In 2018, China even banned Disney’s live-action ‘Winnie the Pooh’ movie.

Pompeo, however, denied the allegation when he was asked about the much-speculated photograph on a radio show.

“I imagine there were a series of stuffed animals, and they were equally distributed for Mercer’s benefit,” he told told Iowa conservative radio host Simon Conway.

Also read: Discussed India-China border clash with Jaishankar, we speak ‘frequently’, says Pompeo

Xi comparisons to Winnie the Pooh

The comparisons between Xi and ‘Winnie The Pooh’ began in 2013, when he visited former US President Barack Obama. During the visit, an image of Xi and Obama walking together spurred comparisons to a rotund Winnie (Xi) and a lanky Tigger (Obama), another character from the cartoon series.

In 2014, Xi was again compared to the character, this time during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe was compared to the gloomy donkey character from the series Eeyore, while Xi was compared to the yellow bear.

In 2015, internet users poked fun at Xi once again after a military parade celebrating the country’ World War Two victory. A picture of Xi waving at the parade from a car was placed next to a picture of a Winnie The Pooh figurine in a car. The images were subsequently censored in China.

Winnie the Pooh, or Pooh Bear or Pooh, is the lead character in a collection of stories created by English author A.A. Milne about the adventures of a group of anthropomorphic wild animals.

Also read: China warns of retaliatory sanctions if US implements Hong Kong Autonomy Act


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