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China, Thai netizens in a war of viral words

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BANGKOK – A vicious, hilarious and highly political war has erupted on social media between Thailand’s satirical dissidents and China’s outraged nationalists, prompting the Chinese embassy in Bangkok to complain in vain.

The spat erupted after Thai internet model Weeraya Sukaram, more widely known by her “Nnevvy” social media moniker, retweeted a post that may have suggested the coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory and that Beijing silenced investigators and whistleblowers.

Chinese netizens viciously countered the widespread claim and later railed on the Thai starlet’s suggestion in an Instagram post that did not describe Taiwan as part of China. Beijing considers the island nation a renegade province.  

Nnevvy-generated hashtags generated over two million tweets, according to news reports. Chinese critics later called for a ban on Weeraya’s TV star boyfriend, Vachirawit Chivaaree, for liking a post that identified Hong Kong as a country rather than a Chinese autonomous territory.  

Reuters reported related hashtags on the boycott call had at one point over 4.6 billion views on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

Screen grab of Thai starlet Weeraya Sukaram and Chinese social media comments. Photo: Twitter

The Internet battle has attracted other big personalities in Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere, mostly cheering Thailand’s mischievous jokes, insults, political stabs, and pop art memes against China.

“Perhaps we can build a new kind of pan-Asian solidarity that opposes all forms of authoritarianism!” wrote Hong Kong’s famous pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong. Wong urged people to “stand with our freedom-loving Thai friends.”

That prompted the Chinese embassy to express it’s displeasure over the spiraling virtual spat.

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