This life-like model showing Chinese tanks on the streets of Taiwan has netizens afraid that the Communist superpower might be preparing to invade the small, self-ruling island.
Social media users on both sides of the Taiwan Strait now seem to fear the model – and the fact that it has been allowed – may foretell events to come.
The extremely detailed work titled ‘Taipei Unguarded’ is expected to become one of the most popular models on display at the 2019 Hobby Expo China in the Chinese capital Beijing.
Pictures Credit: AsiaWire/Chen Zhu & AsiaWire/Weibo & AsiaWire/Xiao Ning
The 20th annual event, which showcases the nation’s best life-size and scale-model projects, runs for three days between 19th and 21st April.
‘Taipei Unguarded’, by Chinese model maker Chen Zhu, 41, immediately caught the eye of organisers and visitors who have shared images of the Taiwan landing online.
Chen’s model shows People’s Liberation Army Ground Force Type 99A tanks rolling down Jihe Road in Taipei’s Shilin District, with numerous uniformed soldiers in the scene too.
Famous roadside restaurants such as ‘Yongkang Beef Noodles’ and ‘Shilin Shiquan Spare Rib Soup’ are also included in great detail, as are local residents who appear apathetic towards the tank column aiding in the apparent forceful military takeover.
Chen’s model shows Community Party propaganda flyers and posters strewn across the ground, while one lies on the deck of a roof where a T-shirt reading ‘I [Love] Taiwan’ is hanging.
He even included a presidential campaign hoarding showing Taiwan’s pro-independence leader Tsai Ing-wen, 62, who is seeking re-election in 2020.
Members of the public in Taiwan have suggested the acceptance of Chen’s work at the expo is an affront to the so-called ‘status quo’ across the Taiwan Strait, with numerous media outlets carrying the images too.
Chen admitted to Asia Wire his work is “politically sensitive,” saying he would make further comments once the expo has ended.
He also revealed: “I’ve actually never been to Taipei. In order to create this model, I used hundreds of Taiwan street-view photographs off [search engine] Baidu.”
Chen also left several Easter eggs in the project which eagle-eyed viewers will recognise as being Mainland Chinese, such as his telephone number on one of the shop signs and simplified Chinese characters on the road signs.
The People’s Republic of China has been locked in a decades-long geopolitical stand-off with Taiwan ever since Chairman Mao’s Chinese Community Party defeated the Republic of China and its ruling Kuomintang party in 1949, ending the Chinese Civil War and driving the latter to exile on the island.
Taiwan netizen ‘Chien Chin-ming’ said: “The model marker is clearly sending a warning message to the residents of Taiwan.”
‘Szuhsien Li’ wrote: “Sh*t, they’ve gone too far!”
‘Rex Hsu’ commented: “Enjoy life as you know it. At this pace, we’ll be unified by 2020.”
‘Denise Gatiss’ said: “This piece is a warning. We Taiwanese must unite, stop playing nice, and fight the Communists!”
Chinese netizen ‘Zhenwushuang Xiaose’ wrote: “I look forward to the day the Motherland is reunited again.”
‘Junwu Ciweimian’ added: “Subtitle: ‘Undefendable’.”
‘Dongya Zhonggong Renzaoren’ said: “This would truly be a dream come true.”
‘Dengda Yanjing De Xianyu’ said: “Reclaiming Taiwan makes me extremely comfortable.”