Twitter has introduced an emoji for the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag to mark the the first anniversary of the solidarity movement, which has united protesters in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and beyond in their fights against authoritarianism.
The social media company announced Thursday that the emoji, an illustration of a cup featuring three color shades of tea, will now automatically appear when the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag is tweeted in English, Chinese, Thai and Burmese.
To celebrate the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance, we designed an emoji featuring 3 different types of milk tea colours from regions where the Alliance first formed online. It automatically appears when you Tweet any of the hashtags below👇 pic.twitter.com/QiIBBbKfQc
— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) April 8, 2021
“We have seen more than 11 million Tweets featuring the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag over the past year,” Twitter, which is blocked in China, wrote.
It added: “From #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter to #MilkTeaAlliance, Twitter continues to play a unique role in enabling the public conversation around important social movements that are happening around the world.”
Milk tea emerged as a symbol emblematic of frustration towards growing authoritarianism in many parts of Asia last April, when #MilkTeaAlliance first began trending on Twitter.
Activists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand tweet the hashtag to call attention to their own political movements, and to amplify each others.
In Hong Kong and Taiwan, many take to social media to denounce Beijing’s grating assertiveness in tweets about the Communist Party’s crackdown in the former British Colony and China’s threat to invade what it sees as a breakaway province.
In Thailand, young people are demanding reform of the monarchy, the abolition of a lese majest law that criminalizes insulting the royal family, and the release of jailed political leaders.
Originally a movement named after popular variations of milk tea in the three places, the Milk Tea Alliance has come to encompass a broader coalition of anti-authoritarianism protesters in Asia, including in India and Myanmar.
— Ro Nay San Lwin (@nslwin) April 7, 2021
In the latter, violent anti-coup demonstrations have killed over 500 and the army’s internet shutdowns have created a communications blackout and stifled the flow of real-time, credible updates.
Twitter, in announcing the #MilkTeaAlliance emoji, emphasized the importance of a free and open internet during times of unrest.
“No matter where in the world you are, please grab a good cup of [tea] and join the conversation to show your love and support for the #MilkTeaAlliance,” the social media company wrote.
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