Punching Pooh: Taiwan's unofficial air force badge goes viral

Patriotic badges showing Winnie the Pooh being punched in the face have gone viral
Patriotic badges showing Winnie the Pooh being punched in the face have gone viral Copyright Sam Yeh / AFP
By David MouriquandAFP
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Patriotic badges showing Winnie the Pooh being punched in the face by a Taiwanese black bear are going viral. Here's why.

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Patriotic badges showing Winnie the Pooh being punched in the face by a Taiwanese black bear have gone viral across the self-ruled island.

The iron-on patches being worn by some of Taiwan's air force pilots are both a humorous dig and a defiant message to China's leader Xi Jinping, who is often satirised for looking like the honey-loving cartoon bear.

China, which claims the island as part of its territory, launched three days of massive war games on Saturday that involved simulating attacks on democratic Taiwan. The show of force from Beijing was a response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week.

Taiwan's defence ministry released a series of images and videos during the drills to show off its military preparedness.

One picture in particular, of an air force pilot inspecting a fighter jet, immediately caught the eye of social media users. They noticed on the sleeve of his jacket a patch featuring an illustration of a flag-wielding Formosan black bear pounding Winnie the Pooh.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense / AFP
The badge was first noticed on the sleeve of a Taiwanese airforce pilotTaiwan's Ministry of National Defense / AFP

The discovery set off a social media storm.

Two of the badges have the word "scramble" at the bottom, one of them also proclaiming "we are open 24/7". A third badge designed last year shows a Taiwanese fighter pilot slapping a panda, China's national symbol. It was produced when China carried out similar exercises in response to then-US House speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei last year.

Sam Yeh / AFP
A similar badge showing a Taiwanese airforce pilot slapping a panda was produced last yearSam Yeh / AFP

Taiwanese people have rushed to buy the Pooh-punching patches, which sell for 200 Taiwan dollars – approx. €6.

The badges originated at Wings Fan Goods in Taoyuan city, east of the capital Taipei, where they have now sold out. Social media was flooded with requests for the patches, some from as far away as the United States.

A Facebook vendor who sells the patches said he has received around 1,000 orders since the image went viral.

Facebook
The popular badges going viralFacebook

Most of the requests are from Taiwan but some have even been received from China.

"The people of Taiwan are disgusted with China's overacting military exercises after the Tsai-McCarthy meeting so this pilot's badge sparked discussion," said the Facebook vendor, who asked to be identified by his business name Wizardgeo.

"The people support the military in defending our sovereignty."

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