Have You Seen This Unintentional Thai-China Political Dispute on Twitter?

#nnevvy: The Twitter face off between China and Thailand.
Tuesday 14 April 2020
#nnevvy: The Twitter face off between China and Thailand. Photo: Sara Kurfeß / Unsplash

Some time last week, Thai-American actor Vachirawit Chivaaree – who is also known as Bright – retweeted a photo of Hong Kong and unintentionally set off a Thai-China political dispute on the Twitterverse, hereby dubbed as the #Nnevvy drama.

On 9 April 2020, Chinese netizens – mainly those who are nationalists – discovered that Bright liked a post that identified Hong Kong as a country. This prompted a sea of criticism that slammed the actor for disrespecting China’s national sovereignty, as the action suggests that Hong Kong was not part of China.

The actor promptly voiced out his “thoughtless” action, pointing out that he didn’t read the caption. “Next time there will be no mistake like this again,” he shares.


But despite the apology, the plot continues to thicken as Bright’s girlfriend, Weeraya Sukaram and nicknamed New, proceeds to further fuel the tension between the two.

The actress retweeted an infamous COVID-19 conspiracy theory of how China invented the virus in a lab in Wuhan. The post also accused China of shifting blame for the emergence of the disease to America, and hiding information regarding the outbreak.

Not exactly the best of moves.


Soon, an army of P.R.C nationalist cyber-warriors made their way to Twitter – which is, mind you, blocked in China – and demanded a public apology from New.

They made use of the hashtag #Nnevvy –which was New’s Twitter handle – and flooded the platform with abusive as well as vicious comments about her. The online row soon evolved into a political one, as many leveraged the controversy to spew out racist comments, insults and memes about Thai people and their government.

The hashtag along with its variations generated more than two million tweets and trended globally. On Weibo, the hashtag garnered more than 4.64 billion views and 1.44 million posts, and there is even a fan page on Facebook entitled #Nnevvy with more than 63,000 followers.


It’s interesting to note that social media consultancy Drone Emprit found that automated bot accounts were used in this #Nnevvy feud, but it did not say where the bots were tweeting from. Reuters also realised the fact that several pro-China accounts had been created in the last few days – during the peak of this drama – and only contained comments on the dispute. Talk about dedication.

The goods news is, the war is pretty much one-sided.

Insults from Chinese nationalists against Thailand’s government and king were laughed off by Thai netizens. Thai netizens pointed out that they themselves were not afraid to be critical and criticise their own government. This was topped with a serving of how P.R.C netizens are sensitive on issues of nationalism and live under an authoritarian rule.


And if you think this is the end of the online feud, think again. In an interesting turn of events, netizens from Hong Kong and Taiwan have joined in this Twitter face off. Obviously, they are on Thailand’s side.

Memes are still being exchanged at the moment, but not as aggressively as over the weekend – a sign that this will soon be another chapter in the Internet’s history.


The moral of the story? A little humour and humility can go a long way. Also, check facts before sharing news and posts around – you never know if you’ll be starting or fuelling a cross-border war.

Source: Taiwan News, The Star