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Asia Undercovered #37

Asia Undercovered #37

When Xinjiang – and China – Changed

July 5th, 2009. For Uyghurs, a day that will live on for eternity. That was when riots broke out in Urumqi, leading to a clampdown that, today, has turned into cultural genocide and massive concentration camps. Not coincidentally, it happened a little over a year after a similar event in Tibet.

Darren Blyer has put together a wonderful, if tragic, oral history of that day's events in SupChina. A must read to understand the origins of today’s human rights crisis.

This follows another damning investigation from the BBC into how thousands of children are being forcibly removed from their parents and placed into state-run orphanages. It is family separation on a massive scale.

Also Undercovered this week

While Narendra Modi’s government has been rightly criticized for its assaults on press freedom, they are not the only ones at fault. Kunal Majumder writes on how even the opposition is violating press freedom in India (NDTV).

The situation is similarly bad in Pakistan, where the government of Imran Khan, which many hoped would reform the country’s corrupt system, is instead going after the opposition and increasing censorship (The Hindu).

Also from India – in The Scroll, Aasim Khan calls for the country to reform its technology policy to limit surveillance capitalism and revive democracy, calling this a unique opportunity to shift paths.

Also tech related – Telegram has been a key tool in Hong Kong’s protests. But Dylan Hill worries that its security shortcomings could be putting organizers, and participants, at risk (Hong Kong Free Press).


Japan has resumed whaling in the Pacific for the first time in over 30 years. A great piece by Donald Rothwell in Lowy Interpreter on what this means for ocean policy and governance.

In the Himalayas, melting glaciers and changing weather plans are putting the water that 45 percent of the world’s population depend on at risk. And a lack of effective regional governance mechanisms will only make things worse, says Ruth Gamble in East Asia Forum.

Indonesia loses a true hero

And sad news from Indonesia, as the former spokesperson of the National Disaster Agency, who I featured in a previous Asia Undercovered for working even when facing terminal cancer, has passed away.

Diplomacy Done Right

Japan’s ambassador to Indonesia, Masafumi Ishii, has become a social media hero in Indonesia for his sharing of local food from across the archipelago and his general embracing of Indonesian culture. A model for how to build bridges between nations (Stanley Widianto, 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.