Black cat masks draw scrutiny

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KMT lawmakers said the masks suggest Taiwan is a US “pet” while a DPP lawmaker said they project a positive image of Taiwan

  • By Jason Pan / Staff Reporter

“Black cat” masks worn by Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) officials on Thursday symbolize the enhanced friendship between Taiwan and the US and the nation’s gratitude for Washington’s donation of Moderna vaccines, a Democratic Progressive lawmaker said yesterday Party (DPP) and urged: Critics not to falsify their meaning.

Several CECC officials, including Minister of Health and Welfare, Chen Shih-chung (陳 時 中), who runs the center, wore the specially designed mask during the daily press conference. The mask shows a black cat wearing a scarf with the flag of the Republic of China, with the US flag in the background and the words “Stronger together”.

It has drawn public attention and raised questions about where they can be bought.

Photo provided by the Central Epidemic Command Center

CECC officials said the mask, known as the “Taiwan Cat Warrior” mask (台灣 戰 貓 口罩), was designed and made by Taichung-based Shang Hao Biomedical Co for the US government for their donation from Moderna – To thank vaccines and to recognize the efforts of US Representative Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) to help the nation keep them safe.

However, several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers saw this in a different light, saying it was humiliating for Taiwanese to become the US “pet”.

“Some people asked me, does that mean Taiwan is the US domestic cat? This is like a throwback to the authoritarian era in which a personality cult is being built around a public figure, ”said KMT lawmaker Jessica Chen (陳玉珍) in an obvious reference to Hsiao, who is a well-known cat lover.

“Why did Chen have to wear this mask? It made people angry. Where is our national dignity? ”KMT caucus whip Alex Fai (費 鴻泰) added.

DPP lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said cats – whether in Taiwanese or Western culture – are viewed as cute, adorable animals, in contrast to China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy, which Chinese officials call threatening or violent Behavior.

“This Taiwan Cat Warrior mask projects a positive image for Taiwan on the international stage,” said Lo. “The KMT has gone too far by claiming that it is building a personality cult, degrading national dignity and is a return to the authoritarian era.”

Shang Hao Biomedical General Manager Yang Sheng-te (楊勝 得), the designer of the mask, said his company was working on a new design to thank Lithuania for agreeing to send vaccines to Taiwan.

The company also made a “Taiwan-Japan” friendship mask to mark the arrival of a Japanese vaccine donation, he said.

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