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Meme war: Milk Tea Alliance versus CCP's Little Pinks

Updated: Oct 20, 2020


International 'Milk Tea Alliance' Faces Down Authoritarian Regimes

RFA 14 October 2020.


Young campaigners for democracy across Asia are increasingly turning to international support on social media via the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag, issuing calls for support as protesters in Thailand and Hong Kong face off with authoritarian regimes.


"I [believe the] #MilkTeaAlliance could create a “pan-Asia” grassroots movement that would draw more attention to social causes in Asia," Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the 2014 Umbrella movement, tweeted on Wednesday.


As he did so, Thai student activist Francis Bunkueanun Paothong was getting ready to issue a "call to arms" via the same hashtag, as police began an operation targeting protesters ahead of a major demonstration planned for Wednesday.


"Dear people of the Milk Tea Alliance," he said via a video statement posted to Twitter.


"Half an hour ago, Thai police began operations to forcibly remove protesters preparing themselves for tomorrow's main protest. They used tactics far beyond [what] a human being can bear," Francis said.


"I come to you with nothing to offer but our unconditional support to our brothers and sisters overseas, who are now engaged in the fight, the revolution, of their lifetimes."


"This is a call to arms to everyone who cherishes the ideas of liberty and justice for all," he added, calling on allies to "stand up to the tyranny and authoritarianism that we are all facing."


Messages of support were quick to appear, many of them apparently from Hong Kong.


"Please stay safe! This is just like what happened in Hong Kong in the past year," user @sajujuandjuju wrote in reply. "Hongkongers will always support our Thai friends. Please let us know how we can help!"


"Hkers always stand with Thailand!! Fighting and be safe," another user wrote.



The #nnevvy story: how a punitive expedition of Chinese trolls on Twitter has turned against the CCP


Source: china-underground.com 15 April 2020


The controversy against a Thai actor and his girlfriend turned against the Chinese nationalist netizens closest to the CCP, while demonstrating the Chinese propaganda machine’s inability to interpret and fully understand the feelings of young people from neighboring countries.


On social networks, especially Twitter and Facebook, a war with no holds barred between Chinese trolls and Thai youth broke out after a Thai actor, Vachirawit Chivaaree, liked an image on Twitter that depicted Hong Kong as an independent “country”.


Many Chinese netizens had flooded his account on Instagram and other social networks, criticizing him and trying to correct him. The actor, therefore, posted an apologetic post for the “lack of attention in talking about Hong Kong”, which is in fact a semi-autonomous city, and not an independent nation.


The actor is not the first, and certainly will not be the last celebrity to unwittingly offend the hypersensitive Chinese public and then apologize for Taiwan and Hong Kong issues.


For years we have also witnessed ranks of Chinese trolls flooding with negative comments the pages on Facebook and Twitter, social networks banned in China of pro-Uighur groups, Taiwanese government, etc.


After the apology of the actor, some users of Weibo, the popular Chinese social network, have identified other posts of the actor and in particular of his girlfriend, Weeraya Sukaram, who is known on the network under the pseudonym of Nnevvy, where she sympathized for the independence of Taiwan.


Netizens have therefore started to boycott Vachirawit and his TV show “2gether” and some have gone further by starting to insult them both on Weibo and on Twitter using the hashtag #nnevvy.


Weeraya did not respond to requests for comment and none of the messages were visible on her accounts.


On Weibo, the hashtag has been used over 1.5 million times, totaling more than 4 billion views, according to the Global Times.


From this moment, however, the situation seems to have gotten out of hand to the Chinese defamation machine, so much so that some Chinese trolls have started to harass the actor’s Thai fans on Twitter and to openly insult Thailand and its government.


In this frantic search for a total confrontation with the Thais, rather than make indignant the local public, they were greeted with joy by the more liberal young Thais.



"I hereby declare Thailand will be my first travel destination as soon as the epidemic is over! I think I’ll call this an Asia Bromance! 🇹🇭🇭🇰🇹🇼 #nnevvy pic.twitter.com/yXxaFDGKxj — GrilledCorn (@CornGrilled) April 13, 2020"



They, therefore, invited the Chinese trolls to insult their government, already the object of their criticism, with even more ardor, and displacing the Chinese netizens not accustomed to contesting the authority of their country.


In a very short time, young Thai people were also joined by users from Hong Kong and Taiwan.


Former Hong Kong legislator Nathan Law commented: “so funny watching the pro-CCP online army trying to attack Bright. They think every Thai person must be like them, who love Emperor Xi. What they don’t understand is that Bright’s fans are young and progressive, and the pro-CCP army always make the wrong attacks.”


In a short time, #nnevvy turned into a hashtag dominated by anti-CCP sentiments, despite the collective effort to flood it with more positive posts towards the Asian giant (such as Chinese noodle dishes, landscapes or various recipes) and in an opportunity to discuss issues that often struggle to be addressed in Far Eastern countries.


Joshua Wong, the secretary of the Democratic Demosisto party (here, here and here you can find some of our interviews), urged the young people of Hong Kong to support Thai peers, to give life to a new type of pan-Asian solidarity that is opposed to all forms of authoritarianism.



"[The statement by Chinese Embassy Bangkok is sheer arrogance and ignorance.] 1/ It is indisputable that the #nnevvy saga was provoked by the Chinese nationalist trolls, by firstly doxing, insulting and demeaning the Thai celebrities and people in Thailand. pic.twitter.com/EvzjQz6sqZ — Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) April 15, 2020"



Filipino youth finally joined the protests against China for its actions in the South China Sea dispute.


Even on Weibo, commentary has begun on the failure of the punitive expedition of the Chinese nationalist trolls.


It is not the first time, and probably will not be the last, that Chinese nationalist efforts ultimately get out of hand with propaganda, eventually damaging the country’s reputation abroad and among neighboring countries.


"I found this #nnevvy meme to explain why Thai netizens are winning the PR war on Twitter. I think it all comes down to one simple fact: while Thai people love Thailand, they don’t equate country with gov’t, which frees them from blind loyalty and the “glass heart” syndrome. 🇹🇭 pic.twitter.com/j8Eg04fTbM — Jason Y. Ng (@jasonyng) April 13, 2020"




Milk Tea Alliance Takes on China's Little Pinks in Meme War

Source: RFA 15 April 2020


Social media users from Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong have taken to Twitter in recent days to hit back at China's "Little Pink" nationalists, who started trolling Thai users after an online altercation with Thai actor Vachirawat Cheevaari (known as Bright) and his girlfriend Weeraya Sukaram. The row erupted after online supporters of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP], known as Little Pinks, took issue with a tweet from Bright, the star of hit Thai TV show 2gether, who seemed to imply Hong Kong was a separate country from China. Weeraya also drew their ire by suggesting the coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, prompting Chinese netizens to threaten to boycott Thai soaps and not to travel to the country as tourists after the pandemic. Thai users hit back with video of Chinese tourists piling their plates and shoving each other at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and multiple references to the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, including the "Tank Man" image in a number of guises, including an impromptu sculpture made from fast food. In a loose confederation of Twitterati known as the "Milk Tea Alliance" and using the hashtag #nnevvy, Weeraya's Twitter username, users from Thailand, Hong Kong and democratic Taiwan also fought back with a string of memes. Meanwhile, Weeraya commented that she dressed more like a "Taiwanese" after being told she looked like a "cute Chinese girl", drawing down further Little Pink ire on the couple. While Chinese users hurled insults at the Thai king and called Thais poor, Thai users responded with photos of collapsed apartment buildings due to substandard building materials linked to official corruption in China. When they claimed Taiwan as belonging to China, Thai users asked why Chinese nationals need a visa to visit the democratic island, which remains a sovereign state as the 1911 Republic of China. The clincher, according to some comments, lay in the Thai users' keenly developed political humor and their freedom to deploy it, for example, when a Thai user responded to a Chinese insult targeting the Thai government with the words: "Say it louder!"

'Your mother is dead'

The flame war quickly drew the attention of other Twitter users tired of being targeted by Little Pinks, who need to use a banned VPN to evade their own government's Great Firewall of censorship, and whose comments often include the insult "ni ma sile" (NMSL), meaning "your mother is dead." The alliance was soon joined by users from Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea and India. One meme, posted by Twitter user Amazing, referenced the anniversary of the Boxer Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty on Tuesday. In a retake of a painting commemorating the Seymour Expedition of 1900, the meme shows an overwhelming force of soldiers carrying aloft the flags of eight nations, including that of Taiwan, and advancing on a lone Chinese who utters the words "NMSL." The punitive expedition -- which didn't actually end in victory, although a later one did -- is taught to Chinese nationals as an example of national humiliation at the hands of foreign oppressors. "Taiwan is not China," Amazing wrote. "Free Hong Kong and Xinjiang and Tebet! (sic) Thank you Thais Free mainland China ... bomb the wall!  #nnevvy #freechina" Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong joined in with a meme showing Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan depicted as three types of milk tea, labeled the "Milk Tea Alliance." Wong posted a selfie while watching 2gether, and urged Hong Kong to “stand with our freedom-loving Thai friends." "Perhaps we can build a new kind of pan-Asian solidarity that opposes all forms of authoritarianism!" he wrote.

Taiwan supports 'alliance'

From Taiwan, the mayor of Taoyuan city, Cheng Wen-Tsan, threw his support behind the alliance. "Thank you our friends from #Thailand," Cheng tweeted, along with the flags of Taiwan and Thailand. "Thailand has long been a popular travel destination for the Taiwanese. We look forward to increased exchanges after the #COVID19 outbreak!" Former 1989 student leader Wang Dan said the Little Pinks may appear to be acting as individuals, but they have strong incentives for behaving this way. "The so-called Chinese netizens who came out and insulted people overseas obviously had government backing," Wang told RFA. "This was a government action, a part of its overseas influence [operations], and a part of its ideology of expanding its reach overseas." In Thailand, exiled pro-democracy activist Zhao Changfu said that while people there may admire China's economic achievements, they are less impressed by the Chinese government's persecution of religious believers and its indifference to public safety. "They have more freedom of speech here, more freedom to [criticize] the government, what it does badly," Zhao said. "The people are not very happy about their current prime minister and think they are too dependent on the Chinese Communist Party," he said.

Pent-up anti-China feeling?

Thai police have detained and deported Chinese dissidents at Beijing's request in spite of their having U.N. recognized political refugee status, and allowed the departure of Swedish national and Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhai from his holiday home in Pattaya in 2015, in murky circumstances. Fellow Thailand-based activist Li Xiaolong agreed. "A lot of countries have maintained their ties with China based on the business that it brings in, the tourism, and a lot of them have become economically dependent [on China]," Li said. "They have let China get away with stuff for so long ... but I think the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a lot of pent-up [anti-China] feeling which has all come out at once," he said. Chinese current affairs commentator Jin Shan said China's education system trains everyone to think the same thing, which means its students typically lack the habit of independent thought. "It's that sense of entitlement paired with a blinkered attitude you get in people from a powerful country," Jin said. "They are overly fragile about certain issues, and over-react to things, getting very upset." "They take very seriously stuff that wouldn't really bother us at all," he said. He said another factor was Chinese President Xi Jinping's policy of expanding China's overseas influence. Citizen journalist and computer expert Zhou Shuguang, who is now a national of Taiwan, said the Thais were widely seen as having won the #nnevvy battle. "I think the Thais crushed the Little Pinks with their attitude and their experience," Zhou said. "All the Little Pinks knew how to say was 'your mother is dead'." Reported by Wang Yun for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.




Revealing the Operations of China’s Official Troll Army System

Source: The Epoch Times 15 April 2020. By Nicole Hao.

The Chinese regime employs online trolls to push its agenda on the internet. They are commonly referred to as the “50-cent army,” so named because they are paid 50 cents for each online post that praises the Communist Party’s policies, or insults those who express opinions that stray from the Party line.


They are typically ordinary citizens hired by internet companies or the regime’s censorship and propaganda departments.


But in confidential government documents obtained by The Epoch Times, the Party’s security apparatus, known as the Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC), is revealed to be a major player as well.


The PLAC is a central government agency that oversees the country’s police, courts, and prisons. It has branches in each province, city, and township.



Trolls’ Organization


The documents were from the Fangzheng county PLAC, released to different teams of trolls under its supervision. Fangzheng is a county in the city of Harbin, located in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province.

The PLAC oversees a “professional army,” a “local army,’ and “internet commentators.”

The “professional army” are those working in government agencies. The “local army” are government staff in charge of residential areas and villages, as well as those working in state-run companies. The “internet commentators” are the 50-cent trolls hired from society.


Some trolls recently revealed that they are now typically paid 70 cents ($0.10) per post.


One of the documents explained the different armies’ objectives, which was to ensure internet speech aligned with the Chinese Communist Party.


“[All armies] must make sure to cooperate with each other well… have meetings regularly to discuss the hot internet topics and direct public opinion. Each member must have his or her goal…and complete their missions.”


Another document listed local members of troll armies and their leaders.


For example, the Fangzheng county public security bureau, akin to the police department, has 31 people working in the department in charge of trolls. Sun Naichen, head of the bureau’s political division, is the director. Li Xuedong, deputy director of the political division, is the deputy director. Other members are staff at the county public security bureau as well as the smaller police stations within the county.


The local prosecutor’s office, court, and justice ministry also have their own troll teams, according to the documents. Their teams are relatively small, with four or five members.

Another document listed the trolls in the “local army,” with 336 individuals’ names, cell phone numbers, as well as the state-run company or government agency they work for.


The documents did not provide details about the people hired from society. Chinese independent economist and dissident Charles posted on his Twitter on April 5 a copy of an internal document that detailed the latest recruitment plans for the 50-cent army. The Epoch Times could not independently verify the authenticity of the document.


According to the post, the Chinese regime’s goal is to hire 4 million trolls from universities and colleges, and another 6.23 million from society at large. There is a quota for each region of the country. For example, Beijing would hire 140,000 trolls from colleges, and 110,000 from society. Shandong province would hire 280,000 students and 500,000 others.



Trolls’ Operations


Another document summarized how trolls within government agencies should operate.

The trolls receive training and have regular performance evaluations.


The trolls undergo an online training and testing system, each team monitored by a manager.


Every month, the county PLAC asks the managers to award or fine members according to their performances. The incentives include cash rewards and verbal praise.


The document asked all trolls to “use typical netizen lingo to express the official Party opinion” and guide public opinion on news websites, blogs, BBS [online forums], Weibo, WeChat, and other social media platforms, and so on.


In their posts, trolls should “use words that are realistic, easy to accept by people, and fitting to everyday life,” the document said.


Because different news topics appear every day, the document said trolls should update their knowledge in a timely manner and lead online discussions with normal netizens.



PLAC


As early as 1996, Qiu He, then deputy mayor of Suqian city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province organized government staff to post propaganda articles online. This was the first time that the Chinese regime tried to sway opinion on the internet.


Qiu was later dismissed from the Party for corruption crimes in 2015 and sentenced to 14 years in prison in December 2016.


Since 2004, more information has been revealed about the Chinese regime’s troll operations.


On Dec. 29, 2017, state-run media Xinhua reported that the PLAC-operated news site Zhengyi Net hosted a meeting in Beijing and discussed “achievements” by trolls in the past nine years.


On May 24, 2018, Chen Yixin, secretary-general of the PLAC, organized a seminar in Beijing, in which he emphasized that trolls must keep the “right political direction.”


China’s chief censorship agency, the Cyberspace Administration, also hires trolls to monitor internet posts, delete sensitive information, and post content favorable to the Chinese regime.


Liu, a “post deletion officer” working for a popular internet platform in China, told online magazine Bitter Winter on April 10 that his job was deleting “posts mostly containing remarks criticizing and opposing the government.”


At the internet platform, over 200 people were hired to do the same job, Liu said. The platform also hires individuals to delete articles, audio content, and pictures.


With the help of an automated filter, Liu said he can delete about 100,000 posts per day, which is his daily quota.


Further references:

  1. RTHK 14 April 2020. Memes fly as pro-China warriors, Asian rivals duel

  2. RFA 14 October 2020. International 'Milk Tea Alliance' Faces Down Authoritarian Regimes






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