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Asia Undercovered #36

This week: Xinjiang, WeChat, the caste system in India, Facebook propaganda in Taiwan, and Japan’s disappearing heritage farmhouses.

Vice did an entire episode on Xinjiang

However there was criticism that the piece could have done a better job protecting sources. I agree, but I also think that, for journalists working in places like China, there’s always a risk and getting the story out sometime trumps caution. I also noticed most Uyghurs seem to be okay with the reporting. Full doc here.

Also on China. It’s hard to understand just how embedded Tencent’s megaapp WeChat is into the lives of anyone living in the mainland. Barclay Braw shows us how much it controls – and knows about – his life in Chengdu (Nautilus).

I enjoyed this piece in Columbia Journalism Review that profiled four journalists who went on exchange programs to China. Summary – propaganda tours can’t, alone, influence good journalists (Andrew McCormick).

Undercovered elsewhere in Asia

Foreign Policy investigated a mysterious, China-connected Facebook account and it might have boosted the candidacy of a populist, pro-China politician in Taiwan. Great journalism – and more worries about how social media can be weaponized by the state.

Why hasn’t Indonesia stood up for Uyghur Muslims? A local report explores the complex reasons, from lacking media coverage, doubts about reports, and the courting of Islamic organizations by the Chinese government (RFA).

Imagine a country where, within a few years, everyone went from analog to full-digital, with smartphones, broadband, and Facebook. That country is Myanmar and with that transformation came huge social problems. Great piece by Kyle James in DW English.

A critique of postcolonial caste studies. Ananya Chakravarti argues in The Wire that we need to recognize the deeper origins of the caste system and not blame the British.

And lastly, I really enjoyed this piece by Daniel Hurst on the effort to save Japan’s old heritage farmhouses. Made me want to visit one and experience this unique architectural wonder, which is slowly disappearing (Adda).

Lastly, not directly journalism, but…

This piece by in Source about how BBC designed graphics for its local language services in Afghanistan taught me more about the Afghan electoral system than any news piece has.

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.