The increasingly tyrannical Chinese government last year cracked down on a cartoon character for supposed links to ‘mobsters’. Problem was, that character was the supremely popular Peppa Pig.

Early last year, China’s newly crowned president-for-life Xi Jinping instigated a sweeping censorship campaign to crush any dissent.

Falling victim to his authoritarian rule was a sweeping array of popular culture that could be seen as critical of his strongman leadership: Animal Farm, 1984, Brave New World …and Pooh Bear. Not to mention words like ‘dictator’, ‘two-term limit’ and … the seemingly innocuous letter ‘N’.

But one piglet has overcome.

The pink prep school porcine simply proved too popular.

The family values the two-dimensional cartoon espouses has struck a chord among Chinese parents when it was released there in 2015, just as it has across the world.

Then Peppa and her innocent family antics were decried as a purveyors of counterculture. A threat to the ‘Chinese characteristics’ the Communisty Party is so determined to impose upon its people.

State controlled media even accused the little piglet of being a symbol embraced by mobsters.

“No matter how gangster Peppa Pig becomes, it cannot be allowed to destroy children’s youth (or) break rules,” The People’s Daily decried.

By May last year, every trace of Peppa and her family were erased from Chinese digital streaming sites.

But Peppa’s made a comeback.

With a vengeance.

It’s the Chinese calendar Year of the Pig.

And pigs are a symbol of wealth.

Little wonder Peppa’s popularity knows no bounds.

Shopping malls, grocery stores, and restaurants around China are plastered with decorations bearing her image.

It’s all because a new film, Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year, is about to be released. The Communist Party has bowed to public pressure and allowed it to be screened in China.

The Canadian company behind the pink porcine, Entertainment One, has seen a Chinese-made trailer for the movie go viral behind the Great Wall: it’s been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on China’s state-controlled Weibo social media service.

The movie received official Chinese co-production status (with Alibaba Pictures) back in August. It immediately bagged its place in the crowded February 5 release slot - the first day of Chinese New Year.

While Peppa the film will face stiff competition at the box office, where it goes up against 12 other films opening the same day, including the similarly pig-themed animation The Legend of Pig Warrior and Boonie Bears: Blast Into the Past, the film’s chances are rosy.

But there is one problem: Peppa’s popularity among ironic teens who made the character a symbol of self-mockery and rebellion.

To make fun of their own rebellious gangster-loving subculture, Chinese teen fans took on decidedly un-gangster Peppa as their emblem, plastering themselves with fake Peppa tattoos, sporting toy Peppa watches, and remixing images and videos.

“The popularity of Peppa Pig in China shows a spirit of innovation, but it could also bring negative influence to the young generation if they overindulge in such a subculture,” the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reported last year.

But now Beijing has embraced — and imposed its stamp — on the porcine production, state-controlled media has changed its tune.

The short has now been praised by no less than the ruling Communist party’s highest anti-graft body, the Central Commissionfor Discipline Inspection and Supervision, and its official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily. “It was the emotional resonance of this uniquely Chinese feeling [of longing for family reunion] that made this video a hit,” the newspaper said.

“As a cultural phenomenon, ‘What is Peppa?’ has brought a good beginning to 2019.”