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Peppa Pig videos removed by Chinese social media app Douyin

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Peppa Pig — the anthropomorphic pink pig from the eponymous British animated series — is the latest cultural product that’s been given the axe on a Chinese platform.

Some 30,000 video clips featuring the children’s cartoon character have disappeared from social media platform Douyin, according to Chinese state-owned tabloid Global Times. The videos had previously been searchable on the platform under the hashtag “#PeppaPig,” which now shows zero search results.

Douyin, an app that allows users to create and publish short videos, is owned by Beijing-based new media company Bytedance.

Zhang Yiming, the chief executive of Bytedance, last month said on social media that the company would increase the number of employees handling censorship at Toutiao — a popular news app that’s also part of the social media giant — to 10,000 after being temporarily banned earlier this year.

Given the recent developments, “it is not surprising that the platform has become more paranoid in the interpretation of parodic content,” said Severine Arsene, managing editor of AsiaGlobal Online, a digital journal published by the University of Hong Kong.

Specific details surrounding the removal of Peppa Pig-related content, such as whether it was the result of an official directive, remain unclear, but self-censorship is understood to be a common practice.

“In many cases, [platforms] tend to over-censor, particularly during sensitive periods,” Arsene said.

Douyin, meanwhile, has not publicly discussed its latest move. The company did not reply to a request for comment.

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Armin Laschet picked as new leader of Germany’s ruling CDU party 

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Candidate for the chairmanship of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party, Armin Laschet, gestures as he takes part in a discussion at the party’s headquarters in Berlin on Jan. 8, 2021.

CHRISTIAN MANG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s ruling CDU party picked Armin Laschet to be its new chairman on Saturday, possibly paving the way for him to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor at elections later this year. 

Laschet is currently the prime minister of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, the most populous federal state in the country. He beat rival Friedrich Merz by 521 to 466 in a vote that was forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Born in 1961, he was first elected to the Bundestag (German Parliament) in 1994 and his election is seen as a continuation of Merkel’s policies, as he has pledged to keep the CDU firmly in the “middle of society.” 

With him as chairman, the CDU will likely stay on message and focus on more climate change policies and environmental topics. He has a strong Catholic background which brings him support from Christian circles within the party. 

He is a trained lawyer and also worked as a journalist at the time of German reunification between 1986 and 1991. He is seen as being very liberal and is popular with the immigrant community in his home state.

If he becomes the CDU’s candidate for chancellor at September’s elections, he could be open to various coalitions — power sharing is somewhat of a recent tradition in German politics.

He has floated the idea of a government alongside the liberals, the FDP, in a bid to win over parts of the business camp inside the CDU. But he is also seen as a natural fit for a coalition with the Greens too, as he is on good speaking terms with the party and favors environmental issues.

But the CDU’s candidate for chancellor will only be determined in the spring. And it’s not certain that the newly-elected chairman will automatically move into Merkel’s role. Markus Söder, the very popular Bavarian prime minister, and also Jens Spahn, the current health minister, may also join the race to lead Europe’s largest economy.

Merkel stepped down as leader of the CDU in 2018, and her replacement Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer quit in February 2020 after a series of communication mishaps exposed her as being too weak to lead the chancellery.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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