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Taiwan bear badge punches back after China drills

2023-06-11 01:54:03 source:The Washington Post author:Press center6 click:208order

People in Taiwan alarmed at China's latest military drills have found a symbolic way of turning a geopolitical tussle into a bear-knuckle fight.

A popular new badge depicts a Taiwanese black bear punching Winnie the Pooh, who often appears in memes representing Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The fad began among air force pilots, but has since gone viral.

Taiwan is a self-ruled island with its own government and constitution, but China sees it as a breakaway province.

On Monday, China finished three days of military drills around Taiwan, which included "sealing off" the island and simulating targeted strikes.

Beijing began the exercises on Saturday after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.

After the drills ended, Taiwan's defence ministry said it would not stop strengthening its combat preparedness.

Images and videos released by the ministry to back up its stance included the sight of a pilot wearing a sew-on patch of the battling bears - and social media users were quick to highlight it.

The badge, available in two versions, has the word "Scramble!" at the bottom, one of them also proclaiming "We are open 24/7".

A third badge shows a Taiwanese fighter pilot slapping a panda, China's national symbol.

Taiwanese people were quick to snap up the Pooh-punching patches, which retailed at 200 Taiwanese dollars (£5.30; $6.50).

They were produced by Wings Fan Goods in Taoyuan city, east of the capital, Taipei, which has now sold out of them.

Taiwan's air force told the Reuters news agency that it did not "particularly encourage" its members to wear the patch, which is not a part of their uniform.

However, it added that it would "maintain an open attitude" to anything that raised morale.

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