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Asia Undercovered 27 May 2020

Asia Undercovered 27 May 2020

Undercovered this week

Cyclone Amphan made landfall right along the Bangladesh-India border last week. It caused widespread damage but, thus far, relatively minimal loss of life. Now the rebuilding begins, but as Joydeep Gupta reports for The Third Pole, some locals are wondering if its worth it, considering rising sea levels and the inevitability of another storm.

China is looking to impose a draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong, seen by many as the end of one country, two systems. Lausan has an in-depth explainer of exactly what is so worrying about this legislation, and what it might do to the rule of law in the city-state – well worth reading.

Happy Eid, IdulFitri and Lebaran to those of you who celebrate. On my mind, thought, are the millions of Uyghur Muslims who could not celebrate (again) this year. In this piece, Ugyhur advocate Dilnur Reyhan laments the ongoing lack of solidarity from the Islamic world (and really, the world as a whole) to the ongoing genocide.

The crackdown has long expanded beyond religious extremist to encompass all aspects of Uyghur culture and heritage. For example, Hüsenjan, a Chinese state employee and member of the Chinese Communist Party, and compiler of the official Uyghur-Chinese dictionary (Darren Byler, SupChina)

A few weeks ago, a massive gas leak in a Andhra Pradesh, India factory killed at least 11. Officials are skeptical that new laws will have any impact in controlling companies, and hazardous industries, or holing them responsible (Down to Earth)

Also of concern – satellite imagery showing a resumption of potential atrocities against civilians in Rakhine State, Myanmar.


China’s growing influence is impacting domestic politics and elections across Southeast Asia. Two examples here - as Thailand edges towards China, its ties with the United States continue to weaken, which could derail diplomacy, argues Gren Raymond in East Asia Forum.

Meanwhile in Myanmar, the script as been flipped. Aung San Suu Kyi is now close to old adversary China while long-ruling military is skeptical of Beijing's intent ahead of pivotal polls, reports Bertil Lintner in Asia Times.


Has China invaded India? Something is happening along the Tibetan-Indian border, but no one is sure exactly what, due to limited information sources from the region. A great thread.

Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia, the pandemic is resulting in defense budgets being trimmed due to economic challenges. This may allow China to expand its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, going as far to encroach on the waters of faraway Indonesia (Aristyo Rizka Darmawan, Lowy Interpreter)

Solutions Stories

Taiwan has gained a reputation as being progressive when it comes to gender identity. In this piece for Magdalene, Antonia Timmerman profiles Wonder Bar, a women-focused bar and safe haven for queer-identifying in the island nation.

And lastly, a more positive Ramadan story – I enjoyed this short piece on Lautze Mosque in Indonesia, a center for Chinese-Muslims, which blends traditional Chinese culture with Indonesian Islam (The Parrot).

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.