Pro-democracy protesters holds signs relating to the "Milk Tea Alliance" Photograph:( Agencies )
Activists welcomed the announcement of the emoji, a white cup set against a background of three colours representing different shades of milk tea in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan, for the first anniversary of the movement
Social media giant Twitter on Thursday launched an emoji for the Milk Tea Alliance, a global online pro-democracy movement that has united anti-Beijing campaigners in Hong Kong and Taiwan with protesters in Thailand, Myanmar and beyond.
🧵Today we are launching an emoji for the #MilkTeaAlliance, an online solidarity alliance first started in April 2020 as a Twitter meme which has grown into a global pro-democracy movement led by activists and concerned citizens in 🇭🇰🇹🇭🇹🇼🇲🇲 and around the world.— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) April 8, 2021
Activists welcomed the announcement of the emoji, a white cup set against a background of three colours representing different shades of milk tea in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan, for the first anniversary of the movement.
The campaign gained steam at a time when Hong Kong was emerging from months of pro-democracy protests and urban youth in Bangkok and other Thai cities were beginning their own street confrontations with authorities, demanding reform to 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 coup ousted the country's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February, sparking a mass uprising.
"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," Twitter said on Wednesday.
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
The image appears 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 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 last April, the platform said, with usage again spiking after the Myanmar coup
The military regime there has imposed overnight internet shutdowns and blanket mobile data restrictions to try and bring weeks of unrest to heel.
It has also directed local telecom service providers to block access to social media sites, which protesters have skirted by using virtual private networks and foreign SIM cards.
"We strongly believe that having access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential right and remain a staunch defender and advocate of free expression and condemn #InternetShutdowns," Twitter said in its announcement of the new emoji.
Thursday's move follows similar recognition by Twitter in recent years of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter social movements, after the respective global campaigns against sexual abuse and in support of racial justice.