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Asia Undercovered #22

This week: The 70 year long war in Myanmar, Kashmir’s simmering conflict, China’s domestic social media strategy, and much more.

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A forgotten, but important date.

March 10th was the 60th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, when locals rose up against what was becoming increasingly dictatorial Chinese rule. This led to the Dalai Lama’s fleeing Lhasa and the martial law and cultural genocide that the occupied country has seen since.

In commemoration, Tibetans in exile held protests around the world. In Tibet itself, there are strict controls on all aspects of life, and a ban on foreigners entering the entire region.

This is one of many sensitive anniversaries in China this year, including the coming 30th Anniversary of the Tienanmen square massacre. To understand what this means, read this open letter: 60 years of occupation, 60 years of resistance in Hong Kong Free Press.

Undercovered this week

Do read this detailed piece by Ben Dunant on the now 70 year long war between the Karen and the Myanmar Army (Frontier Myanmar)

As tensions increase in Indonesia-controlled Papua, a team from the World Council of Churches visited several locations in the province – and found evidence of widespread human rights abuses. Will the United Nations be allowed to enter next? (RNZ)

A simmering conflict in Kashmir – the Himalayan province still contested between India and Pakistan – is getting worse. To understand the dynamics, read Ayesha Ray’s piece on the entrenched,  and increasingly intractable conflict for East Asia Forum.

Remember when Taiwan voted against same-sex marriage? Good news: the government is moving forward on doing the right thing and implementing marriage equality.

Imagine seeing your child on a propaganda show – and being unable to save him. Warning – this video, by a Uyghur father searching for his child, is heartbreaking (RFA).

China has a domestic social media strategy aimed at winning the hearts of disaffected youth, using anime figures, and millennial-friendly content. An enlightening read by William Zheng in SCMP.


An enlightening read into the failure of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to integrate the region economically or socially – telling in the light of the ongoing India – Pakistan conflict (East Asia Forum).

Speaking out on the Xinjiang camps can be dangerous – even in Kazakhstan, as prominent Kazakh activist Serikzhan Balish has been arrested, likely due to pressure from China.

To better understand the Kazakh side of the Xinjiang crisis, read this piece by Massimo Introvigne in Bitter Winter.

Chinese infrastructure is changing Asia. Even tiny Laos is seeing massive transformation due to the building of a trans-country rail line. See photos and an analysis of this change in China Dialogue by Photographer Surya Chuen.


Big news – India’s elections have been called. They’ll be held over seven phases in April and May, with results due on May 23rd. Incumbent Narendra Modi’s nationalist rhetoric against Pakistan seem to have won over at least some Indians (Straights Times).

A shocking by-election result saw Barisan Nasional steal a seat from Pakatan Harapan in Malaysia. The honeymoon phase for Malaysia Baru is certainly over.

In Thailand, the Thai Raksa Chart party has been dissolved. Few are certain what to expect in polls due in just two weeks (Prachatai)

I want to see this Documentary

Filmed five years before Tibetan Uprising Day, in 1954, and banned shortly thereafter, now being released in Czechia. It shows Tibet’s grand cultural legacy before it was mostly destroyed by China in the coming decades.

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.