INDO-PACIFIC: Pro-democracy emoji marks anniversary

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Twitter launched an emoji in April 2021 to spotlight the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance online protest movement that has forged links among pro-democracy activists across the Indo-Pacific.

The alliance — named for the shared love of sweet tea drinks across Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan — emerged in 2020 as an expression of cross-border solidarity and shared fear of authoritarian China.

The campaign gained steam at a time when Hong Kong was emerging from months of pro-democracy protests and young activists in Bangkok and other Thai cities were beginning to demand reform of the country’s military-drafted constitution and other rights.

It has since spread to Myanmar — where tea with condensed milk is a staple breakfast accompaniment — after a military coup ousted the country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, sparking a mass uprising.

“To celebrate the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance, we designed an emoji featuring 3 different types of milk tea colors from regions where the Alliance first formed online,” Twitter said.

The image appeared in any tweet featuring the hashtag in English, Thai, Korean and several other Asian languages.

“Always in solidarity, no matter how hard the times,” veteran Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted in response to the news, using the English and Chinese versions of the hashtag.

The term has been used on Twitter more than 11 million times since April 2020, the platform said, with usage again spiking after the coup in Myanmar.  Agence France-Presse

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