Milk Tea Alliance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Milk Tea Alliance
The "Milk Tea Alliance" flag created by netizens. The colours represent (from left) Thai milk tea, Hong Kong milk tea and Taiwanese milk tea.
The "Milk Tea Alliance" flag created by netizens. The colours represent (from left) Thai milk tea, Hong Kong milk tea and Taiwanese milk tea.[1]
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese奶茶聯盟
Simplified Chinese奶茶联盟
Burmese name
Thai name
RTGSPhanthamit Cha Nom

The Milk Tea Alliance is an online democracy and human rights movement consisting mainly of netizens from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma).[2][3][4] It originally started as an internet meme, created in response to the increased presence of Chinese nationalist commentators on social media[5][6] and has evolved into a dynamic multinational protest movement against authoritarianism and advocating democracy. Aside from the four main countries mentioned, the movement has also established a significant presence in the Philippines, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Belarus and Iran.[7]

The Diplomat describes the Milk Tea Alliance, despite it not being institutionalised, as a pro-democracy alternative to ASEAN. In Myanmar's case especially, The Diplomat considers it to be "a central force in shaping the way Myanmar's youth understand the current battle between pro-democracy protesters and their vastly better armed opponents, a predicament faced by other youth in neighboring countries."[8]


Milk tea is a popular drink in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand, the original three countries and territories included in the movement. Netizens from Myanmar and India who later joined also share their own variations of tea with milk.[9][dubious ] Taiwanese bubble tea, Hong Kong-style milk tea, Thai tea and Burmese milk tea are all local variations of milk tea with strong similarities.[2][10]


External image
image icon Milk Tea Alliance memes published by "奶茶通俗學 Milktealogy" Facebook[1]


In April 2020 during the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests, Thai actor Vachirawit "Bright" Chivaaree, the star of 2gether, a Thai TV drama that was also popular in China, reposted an image on Twitter which listed Hong Kong as a "country", as opposed to a special administrative region of China. His post led to negative reactions from Chinese netizens, who attacked him and called for a boycott of his show. Vachirawit later apologised and removed the image. Thai netizens took to social media and defended Vachirawit with their criticism turning into more generalised criticism of China, launching a Twitter war with the hashtag #nnevvy. Chinese netizens launched attacks targeting various aspects of Thailand, including Thai King Vajiralongkorn and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, though much of this failed to have the intended effect as the Thai netizens were generally already critical of their own country and government, with some even encouraging the insults.[11][12] The Chinese embassy in Bangkok posted a long statement on Facebook condemning the online criticism and a fierce digital battle ensued between Thai netizens and the Chinese embassy.

Within Thailand, support for Hong Kong and Taiwan's struggle against Chinese encroachment has unified the disparate groups of pro-democracy protesters with anti-Beijing sentiment becoming a part of their anti-authoritarian platform.[13][10] Twitter users in Taiwan and Hong Kong soon joined Thai users in what The Telegraph called "a rare moment of regional solidarity".[14] Pallabi Munsi, writing in OZY, in July 2020, described the Milk Tea Alliance as "Asia's volunteer army rising against China's internet trolls."[15]

Further developments[edit]

Map of the "Milk Tea Alliance". India is included in some scenarios.

In the following months, the Milk Tea Alliance evolved from an anti-Beijing meme into a "leaderless protest movement pushing for change across Southeast Asia."[13]

Following the 2020 China–India skirmishes, India has also been included in some formulations of the Alliance with masala chai being their representative variety of milk tea.[16] Politicians in both Taiwan and India have highlighted the existence of the Milk Tea Alliance including Taiwanese representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim who used the hashtag in a tweet thanking Indians for their support.[17] After Australia called for an investigation into the World Health Organization's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, China threatened a consumer boycott if Australia did not back down from its demands for an inquest. Netizens then included Australia as a member of the Milk Tea Alliance, however, the relation to milk tea is tenuous with the milk product Aptamil standing in for an actual variety of milk tea in imagery.[18]

In August 2020 renewed pro-democracy protests in Thailand, the largest since the 2014 military coup, drew support and solidarity from Taiwanese and Hong Kongers including activist Joshua Wong.[13] The hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance was heavily used by protesters.[19][20] The 2020 Belarusian protests broke out in August following opposition rejection to the results of the presidential election. Activists from the country, inspired by the Milk Tea Alliance, began to use Ryazhenka, a traditional fermented milk product drink of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine as a symbol of resistance to the government of Alexander Lukashenko.[21]

In February 2021, in the wake of the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état, activists in Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand began adopting the Milk Tea Alliance in show of solidarity, with pictures of Royal Myanmar Tea bags shared thousands of times.[4] An illustration by Thai artist Sina Wittayawiroj that depicts Thai, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Indian and Burmese milk tea under the "Milk Tea Alliance" headline went viral.[4] The anti-coup protesters have been solidly integrated into the online protest movement.[22]

In April 2021, Twitter created an emoji in support of the Milk Tea Alliance following anti-Beijing protests across Hong Kong and the 2021 Myanmar coup.[23][24][25] It marked the one year anniversary of the Milk Tea Alliance.[26]


The movement does not have a formal leadership or hierarchy.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "【我們信靠奶茶】「泰幽默」擊退「小粉紅」 泰港台三地網民籲組「奶茶聯盟」齊抗中國網軍". 立場新聞. 16 April 2020. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b Tanakasempipat, Patpicha. "Young Thais join 'Milk Tea Alliance' in online backlash that angers Beijing". Reuters. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  3. ^ Bunyavejchewin, Poowin. "Will the 'Milk Tea War' Have a Lasting Impact on China-Thailand Relations?". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "#MilkTeaAlliance has a new target brewing: Myanmar's military". South China Morning Post. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  5. ^ McDevitt, Dan. "'In Milk Tea We Trust': How a Thai-Chinese Meme War Led to a New (Online) Pan-Asia Alliance". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  6. ^ Lau, Jessie (15 May 2020). "Why the Taiwanese are thinking more about their identity". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  7. ^ "'Milk Tea Alliance' pushes for democracy vs China's authoritarianism". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  8. ^ Chia, Jasmine; Singer, Scott. "How the Milk Tea Alliance Is Remaking Myanmar". The Diplomat. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  9. ^ "What is the Milk Tea Alliance?". The Economist. 24 March 2021. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  10. ^ a b Barron, Laignee (28 October 2020). "'We Share the Ideals of Democracy.' How the Milk Tea Alliance Is Brewing Solidarity Among Activists in Asia and Beyond". Time. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  11. ^ Chan, Christina (2 May 2020). "Milk is thicker than blood: An unlikely digital alliance between Thailand, Hong Kong & Taiwan". Hong Kong Free Press. Archived from the original on 14 September 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  12. ^ Teixeira, Lauren. "Thais Show How to Beat China's Online Army". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Chen, Heather. "Milk Tea Alliance: How A Meme Brought Activists From Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand Together". Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  14. ^ Smith, Nicola (3 May 2020). "#MilkTeaAlliance: New Asian youth movement battles Chinese trolls". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  15. ^ Munsi, Pallabi (15 July 2020). "The Asian Volunteer Army Rising Against China's Internet Trolls". OZY. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  16. ^ Deol, Taran (18 June 2020). "'We conquer, we kill': Taiwan cartoon showing Lord Rama slay Chinese dragon goes viral". The Print. Archived from the original on 18 June 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  17. ^ Cheng, Jassie Hsi. "The Taiwan–India 'Milk Tea Alliance'". The Diplomat. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  18. ^ Everington, Keoni (29 April 2020). "Photo of the Day: Australia joins Milk Tea Alliance with Taiwan". Taiwan News. Archived from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  19. ^ Patpicha, Tanakasempipat; Chow, Yanni. "Pro-Democracy Milk Tea Alliance Brews in Asia". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  20. ^ Fenn, Kirsten (6 November 2020). "'We Share the Ideals of Democracy.' How the Milk Tea Alliance Is Brewing Solidarity Among Activists in Asia and Beyond". CBC Radio. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  21. ^ Chachavalpongpun, Pavin (2020). "Constitutionalizing the Monarchy". Journal of International Affairs. 73 (2): 169. ISSN 0022-197X. JSTOR 26939972.
  22. ^ Lau, Jessie. "Myanmar's Protest Movement Finds Friends in the Milk Tea Alliance". The Diplomat. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  23. ^ "Milk Tea Alliance: Twitter creates emoji for pro-democracy activists". BBC News. 8 April 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  24. ^ Castronuovo, Celine (8 April 2021). "Twitter unveils emoji for pro-democracy Milk Tea Alliance". TheHill. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  25. ^ Tanakasempipat, Patpicha (8 April 2021). "Twitter launches 'Milk Tea Alliance' emoji as movement grows". Reuters. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  26. ^ "Twitter launches emoji to support Milk Tea Alliance, one year after hashtag first appeared". South China Morning Post. 8 April 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  27. ^ Wu, Wendy (12 July 2021). "Milk Tea Alliance brews trouble for China". Taiwan News. Retrieved 14 July 2021.