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Asia Undercovered #34

Asia Undercovered #34

While historic protests in Hong Kong have captivated the world, several other pressing stories from Asia are not getting enough attention, including the expansion of anti-Muslim repression in China, a potentially historic court case in Vietnam, and Thailand ongoing farce democracy.

Undercovered this Week

Genocide update: Uyghur culture is being erased in reality. Now, in death too. Rian Thum reports that Uyghur graveyards and shrines are being destroyed, following recent news of Mosques destruction. What’s next – and will the world care?

For all the attention that China’s Belt & Road Iniative gets, no one really understands what actually defines a BRI project. Yuen Yuen Ang writes in Foreign Affairs about the confusion around BRI and attempts to reign in the massive investment and infrastructure project.

This could have huge repercussions. Vietnam victims of a 2016 toxic discharge by a Taiwan-based company have filed a transnational suit against Formosa Plastics Group. If successful, it could open the door for many more similar cases (Global Voices).

While the media overreports North Korea, in South Korea, long-awaited, and overdue military reform – including taking wartime operational control away from the United States – might finally take place (Seong-ho Sheen, East Asia Forum)

Indonesia update: Challenger Prabowo Subianto has officially challenges the poll results. Few expect the results to be changed, and while Prabowo will likely cry foul, research shows that the Constitutional Court, Indonesia’s highest court, has a history of fairness (The Conversation)

Meanwhile, Ahmad Syarif Syechbubakr looks back on the riots that took place after results were announced in Jakarta, exploring the role of urban youth and the regular nighttime violence that takes place in poor neighborhood during Ramadan (Indonesia at Melbourne)

In Thailand, just one MP disobeyed his party’s orders and abstained from voting for former junta leader and now Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during Parliamentary elections. Democracy still looks far off in the country (Prachatai).

Malaysia is seeing a perverse sex video scandal roil the ruling coalition, which Shannon Teoh sees as a return to old-school politics. The big question – will this impact who the next Prime Minister will be? (Straits Times)

Sad news from Pakistan as a 21 year old blogger, Muhammad Bilal Khan, was killed in the capital Islamabad last week. Another setback for free speech in South Asia (Dawn).

For visitors to South Asia, smog is the often the first impression. For locals, though, pollution is becoming normalized, which makes it tough to create political will to change the status quo (The Third Pole).

We need more of this

In Myanmar, in response to anti-Ramadan protest by far-right nationalists, some Buddhists started a campaign to offer white roses to Muslims during the holy month. A rare sign of communal harmony in a region where attacks on minorities is becoming the norm (Thant Sin, Global Voices).

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.