A meme posted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to depict mainland China as “West Taiwan” has gone viral on Facebook, drawing mixed reactions from users.
The pair of images, based on the popular “Hotline Bling” Drake meme, shows a Formosan black bear repulsed by an invitation to study in “West Taiwan,” but apparently enthusiastic to do so in Taiwan.
The meme also comes with Chinese text that refers to China as “mouth country” (口國), purportedly poking fun at its censorship policy. According to Taiwan News, censored words in the mainland are replaced with characters such as empty boxes or asterisks.
The meme appears to be a follow-up commentary on the second round of high-level talks on the Taiwan-U.S. Education Initiative. The program was established in December 2020 to expand opportunities for Americans to learn Mandarin and for Taiwanese people to learn English, as per the Taipei Times.
The second dialogue took place on March 1 and saw officials from both sides vow to expand language exchange commitments. The American Institute in Taiwan, which functions as Washington’s de facto embassy, also vowed to “help ensure that U.S. campuses remain bastions of innovation and intellectual freedom, values we share with Taiwan.”
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei remain high following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The “special military operation,” as described by Putin, stoked fears of China invading Taiwan while the rest of the world was distracted.
Amid continuous Chinese incursions in Taiwan’s air defense zone, President Tsai Ing-wen raised the military’s alert level in late February. The island also extended its five- to seven-day training program for military reservists to two weeks.
As of this writing, the meme has gone viral with over 13,000 reactions, 1,400 comments and 1,900 shares on Facebook. It was also posted on 9GAG.
Facebook users had mixed thoughts in the comments:
“‘West Taiwan’? Do you mean ‘Mainland Taiwan’?”
“China is China, not ‘West Taiwan.’”
“The MOFA is so creative. I’m amused.”
“Even though I like to badmouth Mouth Country as well, I don’t think this is how MOFA should be.”