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Asia Undercovered #23

This week: Arrested for singing a song in Indonesia and China’s terrorism double standard. With Thailand’s elections are just five days away, and with India and Indonesias coming up next month, expect lots of undercovered updates in the coming weeks.

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Undercovered this week

A professor in Indonesia was arrested for defaming the military. His crime? Singing a song at a rally (New York Times).

Less and less young people in Japan are choosing to travel or study abroad. Could a bias media be the cause? That’s what researcher Xiaochen Su thinks (The Diplomat)

Another disappearance in China: Ye Jianming, former chairman of CEFC China Energy. This is a trend according to WeChatscope, as prominence doesn’t protect you from this treatment.


Worth watching: Japan proposes G-20 aid rules aimed at checking China’s Belt and Road initiative. Another sign of global pushback against China’s massive infrastructure investment plans? (Nikkei Asian Review).

Protests in Kashmir have stopped construction of a China-backed damn. This the type of story that gets lost in the incessant India-Pakistan conflict narrative – what local Kashmiris feel about the changes taking place in their homeland (The Third Pole).

Kazakhstan is becoming a rail hub for trade in central Asia. Part of this is being next to China, but it also reflects the changing dynamics of trade in an increasingly Asia-centric world (APPS Policy Forum).

Hypocrisy or ? In the same week, China spoke up about the (inflated) threat of terrorism in Xinjiang, and then voted against holding a known Pakistani terrorist accountable at the United Nations. Bonnie Girard explores this double standard (The Diplomat).


Indonesia – Incumbent Joko Widodo is strong in the polls, still leading by 10-20 points and seeing high likability ratings. A good update on the state of the race, which looks like Jokowi’s to lose, from Stratfor.

Taiwan is still more than a year away from elections, but hype is already building around a potential candidate: populist, pro-China Kaoshiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (Nick Aspinwall, The Diplomat).

Could Thailand follow Malaysia and shift away from China? That’s what some pro-democracy candidates hope, seeing Mahathir Mohamad as a model (SCMP).

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.