Winnie-the-Pooh tends to forget what exactly he is doing when he is handling honey.

While he is carrying a jar of honey to Eeyore, his donkey friend, as his birthday present, the bear eats it all. When he decides to catch an elephant-like animal called Heffalump by putting a jar of honey in a trap, Winnie-the-Pooh eats most of the honey under the pretext of having to make sure what is inside the jar is indeed honey.

Pooh says: “And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.”

These amusing words could have quite different connotations if they came out of the mouth of a man in power who is likened to Pooh.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has often been lampooned as Pooh Bear because they are both chubby and thought to look strikingly similar.

A cartoon recently appeared on the Internet showing Pooh, clearly a stand-in for the increasingly powerful leader of China, hugging rapturously a large pot of honey, which undoubtedly symbolizes power.

The meme apparently provoked Chinese censors into action, and the cartoon soon disappeared from the Web in China.

It was no doubt a dig at the Communist Party’s move to repeal limits to presidential terms--a constitutional provision currently bars the president from serving more than two consecutive five-year terms--and make it possible for Xi to rule indefinitely. There are concerns that Xi will actually rule the nation to the end of his life.

Instead of progressing toward an end to the undemocratic one-party rule, China seems to be regressing toward the era of one-man rule when the leader could make all policy decisions at will.

The Chinese Communist Party has been taking advantage of the country’s rapid economic growth to impose tight restrictions on the freedom of speech.

But there are now signs that China’s economic growth is losing steam. It seems that the party has no choice but to confront and respond to discontent among the public. But the political situation in the country is moving in the opposite direction.

China’s cybersecurity law, which came into force last year, has led to an increase in the number of people who are forced out of their positions at universities and other workplaces.

Pooh has not been the only target of China’s rigorous Internet censorship. Phrases like “I oppose,” “disagreement” and “lifetime system” were also removed temporarily from social media in China.

The man in power who looks like Pooh doesn’t seem to have the placid and easygoing nature the teddy bear has.

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 4

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.