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Asia Undercovered #35: China’s resilient dictatorship

This week: stories on how China’s rulers maintain control, why Malaysian politics is getting dirty again, and Afghanistan’s surprising sports revival.

China’s resilient dictatorship

Despite predictions that the internet, economic growth, or increased exposure to the outside world would force China to democratize, the country remains not only under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but firmly so. Why is that? Here are some pieces that try to explain the many ways that the CCP maintains control over China.

Neil Thomas writes in Marco Polo about how public opinion and responsiveness to citizens needs are, in fact, a key facet of China’s ability to maintain social harmony. The main tool – the MBLL message board system that allows users to highlight concerns. It is, surprisingly, quite transparent and highly used.

There’s a darker side to technology, too. This report from the Gatestone Institute looks at how China has perfected its use of tech to great a perfect totalitarian state.

Censorship is key too. This video from Quartz does a great job showing how the Great Firewall gives users a skewed image of events – even those taking place in a territory, Hong Kong, that is technically Chinese.

It gets darker. Mark Munsterhjelm writes for Just Security about how scientists around the world are playing a key role in enabling the darkest form of Chinese state control, the totalitarian police state and creeping cultural genocide in Xinjiang, homeland of the Uyghurs.

On that front, there might be hope. The US might finally place sanctions on officials responsible for the ongoing cultural genocide in Xinjiang. My question – where is Europe, the Islamic world, and entities like the United Nations on this? Why are we waiting for a US regime that shows little concern for human rights? (SCMP)

Undercovered this week

Malaysian politics is heading in an even worse direction, with sex videos and issues around a promised prime ministerial handover. A quick rundown of what’s going wrong by Stratfor.

One surprise: Malaysia’s shift back to China, with Mahathir shifting his tone on Belt and Road and even welcoming Huawei. Shankaran Nambiar explores the reasoning for this in Lowy Interpreter.

This week was the ASEAN summit. One thing that was not discussed – the growing trade of kidnapped exiled activists by nations such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. Excellent reporting by Reuters.

In India the death toll from acute encephalitis in just one town is 129. A tragedy that might be connected to the record heat wave roiling the country which is also connected to climate change (Straits Times).

For Magadelene, a great feminist media outlet based in Indonesia, Ayunda Nurvitasari writes about how the country’s media reports sexual violence in biased, sensationalist ways – and often exposes victims identites.

On a Lighter Note

Afghanistan is seeing surprising success on the sports front, nearly upsetting India in the Cricket World Cup and outperforming expectations in women’s soccer and the Olympics. A heartwarming story for a country still emerging from decades of war by Marrosha Muzaffar in Ozy.

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.