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Asia Undercovered: 15 April 2020

In this week’s #Covid19 free issue - elections in South Korea and Hong Kong, Uyghur forced labor, and some hopeful stories from the Pacific.

Undercovered this week

Firstly, There are worrying reports that Uyghurs are being transferred from Xinjiang across the country to work in factories and restart the economy. They’re taking positions deemed too risky for the Han majority (Ruth Ingram Bitter Winter).

One thing I am wondering – are the masks and medical materials being shipped from China abroad being made by Uyghur forced labor? If only reporters could investigate.

In Pakistan, traditional honey farmers are seeing their livelihoods destroyed as climate change and deforestation reduce bee habitat. Mohammad Zubair Khan reports for The Third Pole from the foothills of the Himalayas.

Vietnam has approved a feed-in-tariff system for solar energy, a hopeful sign that the country will continue shifting away from dirty fossil fuel development. But Tim Ha says, there’s more to be done to ensure the success of clean energy (Ecobusiness).

Palm Oil – one of Malaysia’s largest exports, has become a flashpoint for trade between the Southeast Asia nation and Europe. Helena Varkkey writes on the nexus between deforestation, climate, and sustainable trade.


Hong Kong has legislative elections this year. The opposition hopes to gain a majority, but will have a tough time in a system stacked in favor of those close to the Chinese Communist Party (Alvin Lum, SCMP).

South Korea has legislative elections today (April 15th). It’ll be worth seeing if the part of incumbent President Moon Jae-in is able to gain seats. Here’s a good backgrounder from The Diplomat.


Outer space is still an area of consternation for countries. Japan has just established a Space Domain Mission Unit, which will protect the country’s satellites and space-based national security. Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi   on the battle to secure space (East Asia Forum).

Asia is aging. While Japan is shrinking, and South Korea will soon follow, the country in line next could reshape the economic future of the region – China.  Linda Zhang writes for China Brief on the population policies of Asia’s biggest country.

Solutions Stories

Two pieces this week from Mongabay, which has kept up their coverage of environmental issues in Asia through the pandemic.

Firstly, the first mention in Asia Undercovered of the tiny island nation of Niue, in the Pacific, which has become the world’s first dark sky nation – and the biodiversity benefits of this designation (Monica Evans).

And then from Indonesia, entrepreneurs from Bali are looking to revive a traditional industry – seaweed – and also produce sustainable alternatives to plastic, reports Johan Agustin.

Asia Undercovered: Journalist Nithin Coca’s weekly roundup of the news, events, trends and people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US  media.