[Full Story] Why is Twitter Trending #MilkTeaAlliance and #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar
SHARED LOVE FOR MILK TEA AND MORE
The Milk Tea Alliance spans Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand, and gets its name from a shared love of the drink.
The grouping was born in April from an online battle between Chinese and Thai netizens, triggered by Thai actor Vachirawat Chivaaree and his girlfriend’s tweets of support for Hong Kong independence.
The online initiative has evolved into a regional movement for greater political autonomy.
Activists and protesters are for the most part, young professionals, university and high school students. They are tech-savvy and have actively participated in protests.
Members of the alliance have worked together to promote their protests. Hong Kong activists have raised the three-fingered salute, a symbol for reform in Thailand, while protesters in Thailand have highlighted the plight of 12 Hong Kong youths detained by Chinese authorities in September.
However, just as milk tea is drunk differently, the specific goals of the protests in the alliance vary.
Thai protesters advocate for the reform of Thailand’s military leadership and the monarchy, while Hong Kong protesters want greater autonomy from China.
While some Thai protesters have also explicitly expressed concerns over the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence in Thailand and the region as a chief area of their platform, domestic issues have clearly taken precedence.
THE ROLE OF MESSAGING APPS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Their ability to mobilise quickly, through instant messaging, social media and word-of-mouth, allows protesters to stay one step ahead of authorities.
Encrypted messaging chat apps such as Telegram are used to communicate information and share strategies for rallies and marches.
While these protests are leaderless – with no single or obvious leaders – their flat hierarchy allows decisions to be made quickly. Strategies evolve from the ground-up, through online forums or messaging chat groups on Telegram, where participants vote on the next course of action.
This has provided protesters fluidity in changing circumstances. Gathering points for rallies are posted in messaging platforms at the very last minute, allowing protesters to create spontaneous flash mobs, hampering efforts by authorities to rapidly break up crowds.