Peppa Pig, the titular character in the much beloved children’s television programme, has come in for some surprising media attention over the past few days as a result of Chinese censors choosing to ban the show.
The programme follows the exploits of the anthropomorphic Peppa Pig and her many animal friends as they experience everyday activities, such as going swimming, in five minute long episodes. It is aimed at pre-school aged children and is popular all over the world.
However, the cartoon character has taken on a darker alternative meaning in China recently, featuring in a variety of gang-related rap videos and tattoos.
In an interview for ITV News, Professor Steve Tsang, Director of the SOAS China Institute, said: “When a lovely character like Peppa is being used by younger people – and sometimes not so young people – to pursue ideas and articulate ideas that are forbidden in China, then Peppa Pig becomes politically incorrect and she will have to be taken off the screen.”
— Peppa Pig Official (@PeppaPigUK) May 4, 2018
Speaking to SOAS Blogs, Steve Tsang added: “Since President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his leadership of China at the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party last October, he is determined to lead China and its people to greater success, which requires not only directing development across the board but also getting Chinese citizens to think the right thoughts.
“Hence, the greater push in implementing the ‘social credit’ system, by which Chinese citizens’ conduct will be evaluated and on that basis be rewarded or punished. Peppa Pig, like any fictional character must, to borrow from Chiarman Mao, ‘serve the people’ and not allow herself to be used by individuals or groups to put forth views deemed by the Party as detrimental to President Xi’s efforts to lead the Chinese nation to the promised land.
“Like Pooh Bear, whose portly shape was presented as resembling that of President Xi in a less than complimentary way and thus banned, Peppa Pig is made to disappear from Chinese media after she was being used by others to articulate politically incorrect ideas within China. To seek rehabilitation in China, Peppa Pig must formally and publicly commit herself to correct her mistake and support Xi Jinping Thought for socialism with Chinese characteristic in a new era.”