Don’t talk too fast. The image is quite violent. We can see a Taiwanese black bear landing a solid right hook in the face of poor Winnie, who almost loses his teeth. Below the image is the word “scramble”. And then smaller: “Fight for freedom.”
Self-defense, the Taiwanese would say! You should know that Winnie the Pooh is supposed to represent Chinese President Xi Jinping. And that this punch symbolizes the resistance of this small country in the face of the threat from Beijing which is becoming more and more pressing.
The resemblance is striking, isn’t it? No kidding, the Chinese president has been compared to the children’s character created by A.A. Milne for at least 10 years. Since then, the internet has gone wild with caricature memes, much to Mr. Xi’s displeasure. So much so that references to the yellow bear cub have been censored on Chinese social media as well as in cinemas, where the film Christopher Robin was banned in 2018!
Because it’s all the rage in Taiwan! Last week, a Taiwanese air force pilot appeared in a photo with this patch on his sleeve. Since then, it’s been madness. A Facebook user who sells it online reported receiving some 1,000 orders since the image went viral. Marketed for 200 Taiwan dollars (6 US dollars) by the company Wings Fan Goods, established in Taoyuan (north), the product would even be out of stock and it would be necessary to wait more than a month to receive new copies.
Let’s say that the context lends itself to it. This week, following a visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to the United States, Beijing carried out major military maneuvers around Taiwan, deploying dozens of warships and fighter jets. China claims ancient Formosa and threatens to annex it sooner or later, even though this island of 23 million people has its own government. A worrying scenario for Western countries, which are largely dependent on “made in Taiwan” semiconductors, which account for 62% of global production and 90% of the latest generation chips, making them a staple of the new digital economy.
At this point, any form of propaganda is good for the Taiwanese. This was also the goal sought by the creator of the crest. Explaining his gesture in the media and on the net, Alex Hsu said he wanted to “boost the morale” of the troops, as China continues to tighten its grip. “Communists come here every day,” he adds, “and I want to fuck them badly.” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we’ll be there to tap them,” he wrote.
And it’s very good like that. As Sigmund Freud wrote in 1905, humor is “the highest achievement of defense” because it allows one to defy reality. It’s also the best form of war propaganda, says Tim Blackmore, an expert on the subject at the University of London in Ontario. “The idea is to get people talking about it. Let them spread the idea that is attached to the image. That this image creates a feeling of belonging to a community. However, the more this image is funny and familiar, the more it is likely to spread on a large scale. In that sense, he says, Winnie the Pooh propaganda is “just perfect.”
Not really, no. Even after the official end of its military trials, Chinese cruisers and fighters continued to prowl around the island. Clearly, the big black bear doesn’t scare the little honey gaga yellow bear. Chinese Internet users have also made fun of ridiculing Taiwanese propaganda. “While mainland China is building warships, Taiwan is building shoulder patches,” one wrote on the Weibo site. I am very relieved…”