MANILA - Young activists across Asia are taking their struggles online under a transnational network called "Milk Tea Alliance" to counter China's increasing influence in the region.
Named after a popular beverage in Asia, the global pro-democracy movement has been used to raise awareness on the demonstrations in Hong Kong and China's aggressive maritime agenda in the South China Sea.
"We kept on saying, 'We do not hate the Chinese people. Many of us are of Chinese descent in many countries all over Asia,'" Karen Shih, co-convenor of Milk Tea Alliance, told ANC.
"This is something that is against authoritarianism. It so happens that the Communist Party of China, which rules mainland China, is authoritarian."
The Milk Tea Alliance sprang from a Twitter war that flared after Chinese nationalists accused young Thai actor Vachirawit Chivaaree, known to his fans as "Bright," and his girlfriend of supporting democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwanese independence.
The alliance, which celebrated its first anniversary this week, was initially between Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It has since recruited members from the Philippines, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Belarus and Iran.
In the Philippines, the alliance was lending support to online campaigns against the new anti-terror law and China's incursions in the West Philippine Sea, Shih said.
One of its accomplishments, she added, was exposing the propaganda video Iisang Dagat released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
"To us, it's a very subtle way of telling their policy in the West Philippine Sea... It really made a splash. It was carried by different outlets in all over the world. The Iisang Dagat [video[ backfired," Shih said.
For the 2022 general elections, the alliance aims to educate more youth in choosing better leaders.
"What I can safely say is the youth that are being involved from being bystanders are becoming more active. If we start working with the youth one person at a time and they make ripples, they will definitely make a difference," Shih said.