Pictures of Winnie the Pooh have been banned on Chinese social media as officials clamp down on politically-sensitive references to the bear.

Authorities have deleted online comments referencing Little Bear Winnie – Pooh’s Chinese name – leaving users with error messages telling them: This content is illegal.

Stickers and GIFs featuring the bear, the most famous resident of Hundred Acre Wood, have also been removed from WeChat – a messaging app used by 889 million people in the country.

Some pictures of the AA Milne character and references using his English name are still permitted on the popular Twitter-like platform Weibo.

No explanation for the ban has been given by officials, but the bear has been compared to Chinese President Xi Jinping in the past and the crackdown comes in the run up to China’s 19th Communist Party Congress.

Chinese social media users have been testing the boundaries imposed on the lovable creation of AA Milne.

Poor Little Winnie, one Weibo user wrote. What did this adorable honey-loving bear ever do to provoke anyone?

In 2013, a similar ban was imposed in response to a popular comparison of a photo of President Xi and then-US President Barack Obama with Pooh and his friend Tigger.

The following year a photographed handshake between President Xi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced similar treatment.

The ruling Communist Party is highly sensitive to mocking depictions of its leader.

It will be particularly eagle-eyed in the coming months as President Xi attempts to consolidate power ahead of an important twice-a-decade party conference.

The National Congress event is being held in autumn and will see elections for the most senior positions in China’s ruling Communist Party and Politburo, its main policy-making committee.

(c) Sky News 2017: ‘Oh bother!’ – China censors Winnie the Pooh