(Hong Kong) The horror film Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey will not be released in Hong Kong and Macau, the distributor announced on Tuesday a few days before the scheduled release.

This withdrawal illustrates the growing self-censorship in Hong Kong under pressure from Beijing, including in the artistic and cultural field.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been caricatured as Winnie the Pooh, the debonair children’s story character originally dreamed up by Briton Alan Alexander Milne, ever since a 2013 encounter with the slender then US President , Barack Obama.

A far cry from the Disney and Soviet studio Soyuzmultfilm screen versions that made the character popular on both sides of the Iron Curtain, the Blood and Honey version is a gory adaptation of Rhys Frake-Waterfield released in February in the United States.

Initially promised for a very modest theatrical release, this low-budget production, made thanks to the passage of rights into the public domain, has turned into a phenomenon benefiting from a worldwide release.

Distributor VII Pillars Entertainment expressed “deep regret” for the cancellation in Hong Kong, without specifying the cause, in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

The Hong Kong administration said it had issued a broadcast license for Blood and Honey, appearing to indicate that the film had not been censored.

But the organizer of a preview that was scheduled for Monday canceled the event, citing unspecified technical causes.

Winnie the Pooh has become a symbol of opposition to the Chinese president in recent years.

In response, China has consistently redacted the internet even within its borders, and in 2018 denied the release of the Disney film Christopher Robin in which the character featured.