China and Taiwan air forces trade videos warning each other of willingness to protect interests
Hokkien-language propaganda film posted by China before Taiwan claims it has ‘confidence and strength to defend its democracy’
Taiwan’s air force has released a video that it said showed its ability to defend its freedom after China’s air force released a propaganda film dubbed into Hokkien, a language strongly associated with Taiwan’s pro-independence movement.
China’s video on Thursday showed bomber aircraft that had been involved in flying patrols around the self-ruled island. On Friday, Taiwan’s air force released its own video, although it denied that it had done so in response to China’s.
Beijing has been issuing increasingly stern warnings for democratic Taiwan to toe the line, including stepping up its military presence and flying bomber patrols around the island, as it seeks to curb what it believes are efforts to push for the island’s formal independence.
In the latest salvo fired by China – which claims Taiwan as its sacred territory – the air force posted a Hokkien version of an earlier video called “God of War” on its Weibo account late on Thursday afternoon.
The video shows H-6K bombers flying over the South China Sea and near to Taiwan.
“A powerful nation must have comparable forces capable of safeguarding its sovereignty and security,” the voice-over says.
Hokkien hails from China’s southeastern province of Fujian and is the native language of the majority of people in Taiwan, where it is also known as Taiwanese or Hoklo. It is also spoken by many ethnic Chinese communities in Southeast Asia.
Hokkien has little official support in China, where the government has for decades pushed the use of Mandarin, and it is rarely given any public platform.
In Taiwan, however, the language is widely spoken in public, including in parliament, and seen as a symbol of the island’s distinctiveness, as opposed to Mandarin, the official tongue in both Taiwan and China.
On Friday, Taiwan’s air force released its own much more slickly produced video through its Facebook page, showing Taiwan’s US-made F-16s and French Mirage fighters soaring into the air and pilots discussing their combat-readiness.
“We have the confidence and the strength to defend the country’s democracy and freedom!” the Taiwan air force says in its introductory remarks for the video.
A Taiwan defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the island was aware of China’s Hokkien video, but that it was too much of a stretch to say that its film had been released in response.
“We’ve always made films to show the military’s good face, as all countries do,” the official said.