A patch worn by pilots that ridicules Chinese President Xi Jinping has become the hottest item in Taiwan this week. The patch features a native Formosan black bear punching Winnie the Pooh while waving the flag of self-governing Taiwan.
19FortyFive reports that the unofficial “morale patch” has been red and blue to accommodate different tastes. Some members of Taiwan’s air force have worn iron-on patches depicting the honey-loving cartoon bear as a direct and defiant message to China’s Xi, who is often the target of parody due to his resemblance to the bear.
Due to the many internet memes comparing the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the anthropomorphic teddy bear, the Chinese government has restricted images of the figure since July 2017. This includes the Disney version of the character.
The bear has been interpreted (accurately) in Beijing as an insult to the country’s leader. The concept’s origin in a meme may be traced back to Xi’s visit to the United States in 2013, specifically to a photograph taken of the Chinese leader strolling alongside former President Obama. When Xi met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a short time later, however, comparisons were made between the two leaders, with Abe being likened to Eeyore and Xi being compared to Pooh.
In 2015, a picture of Xi during a parade standing in the sunroof of a limousine was widely shared online because it resembled a toy car featuring Winnie the Pooh striking a similar position. Xi dislikes being likened to the cartoon character, and China does not want its leader to be insulted.
Since then, Winnie the Pooh has been and remains a symbol of anti-Chinese resistance, and as a result, anything related to him has been outlawed in China.
Once the Chinese tech giant Tencent invested in Reddit this year (2019), thousands of postings using the bear cartoon became viral.
After a photo of a pilot examining a fighter jet while wearing the patch was published by Taiwan’s military press agency, sales skyrocketed. Hsu, the owner of Wings Fan Products Company, created the patch to raise spirits among the armed forces.
It was sorely disappointed if the CCP thought it could win a propaganda war. The Taiwanese black bear won this round by defeating Winnie the Pooh.