Hong Kong – Twitter launched an emoji to highlight the online “#MilkTeaAlliance” protest movement that has forged links between pro-democracy activists across Asia, the social media giant said Thursday.
The alliance – named for the shared love of sweet tea drinks in Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan – emerged last year in an expression of cross-border solidarity and shared fear of authoritarian China.
The campaign gained momentum as Hong Kong emerged from months of pro-democracy protests and city youth in Bangkok and other Thai cities began their own street confrontations with the authorities, demanding reform. the country’s military constitution and other rights.
It has since spread to Myanmar – where condensed milk tea is a staple breakfast accompaniment – after a coup ousted the country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February, sparking a mass uprising.
“To celebrate the first anniversary of #MilkTeaAlliance, we have designed an emoji featuring 3 different types of milk tea colors from regions where the Alliance first formed online,” Twitter said on Wednesday. .
The image appears in any tweet that has the hashtag in English, Thai, Korean, and several other Asian languages.
“Always in solidarity no matter the tough times,” Hong Kong pro-democracy veteran Joshua Wong tweeted in response to the news, using both the English and Chinese versions of the hashtag.
The term has been used on Twitter more than 11 million times since last April, the platform said, with even stronger use after the coup in Myanmar.
The military regime has imposed overnight internet shutdowns and general mobile data restrictions in an attempt to end weeks of unrest.
He also ordered local telecommunications service providers to block access to social media sites, which protesters bypassed using virtual private networks and foreign SIM cards.
“We firmly believe that having access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential right and remain a strong advocate and defender of free expression and condemn #InternetShutdowns,” Twitter said in its announcement of the new emoji.
Thursday’s decision follows similar recognition by Twitter in recent years of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter social movements, following the respective global campaigns against sexual abuse and for racial justice.
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