Taiwan’s Military News Agency released photos showing the National Army in training last week, including one photo of a Taiwan Air Force pilot wearing a “Winnie the Pooh” lookalike arm patch. Chinese President Xi Jinping is often compared to the iconic children’s cartoon teddy bear, which is frequently referenced to mock the communist leader.
The photos were posted on Twitter along with a lengthy caption, which stated in part, “In the face of the Communist Army deliberately creating tension in the Taiwan Strait, the National Army adheres to the principle of ‘not escalating conflicts, not causing disputes,’ focuses on training to deal with the enemy’s situation, and always defends national security.”
The pilots’ patch depicts Winnie the Pooh-like bear being punched in the face by a Formosan black bear.
Formosan black bears are the only bears native to Taiwan. The bear has been adopted as Taiwan’s mascot.
As with most social trends, the Winnie the Pooh reference mocking Xi can be traced to a meme posted on social media in 2013. A photo of President Xi walking alongside then-president Barack Obama split screened with an image of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger went viral.
The trend of mocking comparisons didn’t stop there, with another split-screen meme of President Xi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe compared to Eeyore and Winnie the Pooh also going viral.
Following this, memes comparing Xi to Winnie the Pooh became so commonplace that Xi eventually went to great lengths to stop the comparison, with the film “Winnie the Pooh” experiencing a ban in China in 2018. HBO was likewise temporarily blocked from China, following comedian John Oliver’s skit in which he made fun of Xi’s apparent sensitivity to the comparison.
Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, but China considers the island a part of its territory. Chinese officials have frequently alluded to “reunification” with Taiwan, potentially by force.
Alec Hsu, the owner of Wings Fan Goods Shop, designed the patch last year as a symbol of support for Taiwan’s military, according to Reuters.
“I wanted to boost the morale of our troops through designing this patch,” Hsu said, adding that after the photos were published, demand from both military members and civilians has increased dramatically.
While he is currently out of stock, Hsu said he has ordered more patches to meet the growing demand.