Will the ‘Milk Tea War’ Have a Lasting Impact on China-Thailand Relations? – The Diplomat

Starting as an insignificant spat, the recent online war of words between Chinese and Thai netizens has caught the headlines of international news outlets, including CNN and Foreign Policy magazine. Even though the Beijing embassy in Bangkok referred to this squabbling as “online noise,” the embassy jumped into the viral argument rather than ignoring such unpleasant words. This unforeseen action instantly heightened the humorous but highly political trolling on Twitter and other social media platforms. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists and Taiwanese politicians have also engaged in this altercation, which, in turn, has further angered Beijing.

How did this turn into a trend? More importantly, what does this wave of “online noise” tell us about the future of China’s relations with Thailand?

All the noise arose from an online fracas when female Chinese fans of Thailand’s same-sex romantic dramas were annoyed by the fact that Vachirawit Chivaaree — also known as Bright, a Thai actor who starred as a lead character in “2gether: The Series” — actually had a real-life female girlfriend. They became angrier when Chivaaree retweeted a post in which he shared photos with a caption that described Hong Kong as a country. Although Chivaaree apologized to his fans on the mainland for his “thoughtless” action, they subsequently accused him and his girlfriend, Weeraya Sukaram, of being pro-Taiwan. The ongoing spat set social media ablaze when Chinese fans were outraged at Sukaram’s retweeting of a message questioning whether