Taiwanese citizens are rushing to buy a patch worn by members of its air force that mocks Chinese President Xi Jinping amid escalating tensions between the island and mainland China.
The patch shows a Formosan black bear, which is native to Taiwan, holding Taiwan’s flag while punching Winnie the Pooh, which Chinese dissidents have increasingly used to mock Xi due to his supposed resemblance to the fictional teddy bear.
The patch has the word, “SCRAMBLE!,” at the bottom, which appears to be a nod to the Taiwanese Air Force’s efforts to combat near-daily incursions by China’s military in recent months.
An image of a Taiwanese Air Force pilot wearing the patch was posted to social media last week.
“Where can we get a patch like that! Guaranteed to be best sellers!” Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the United States responded on Twitter.
Chinese censors have increasingly cracked down on images that compare Xi to Winnie the Pooh in recent years. Last month, a horror film that features Winnie the Pooh was scrapped in Hong Kong and Macao.
In 2018, Disney’s animated film “Christopher Robin,” which includes Winnie the Pooh as a prominent character, was denied release in Chinese theaters. That same year, China cut off access to HBO after host John Oliver criticized Xi for being sensitive to the comparisons.
Alec Hsu, the designer of the patch that is now going viral in Taiwan, told Reuters that he started selling it in his shop last year and has seen a recent spike in orders.
“I wanted to boost the morale of our troops through designing this patch,” Hsu told the news outlet.
Several dozen Chinese aircraft and naval ships staged military drills around Taiwan over the weekend, prompting the Taiwanese military to put their air force and navy on alert.
It comes after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen traveled to the U.S. last week to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other lawmakers.