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Asia Undercovered #38

Big news – Asia Undercovered hit 500 subscribers last week!

I hope it is just the start. My goal when starting this newsletter was to challenge the English language media’s failure to cover or promote stories about Asia.

With US elections “approaching” (it’s actually still a year and a half away), the space for Asia coverage in most mainstream media is shrinking. The New York Times just did a 21 page insert (!) ahead of the first Democratic debate – far more coverage than they ever gave to the 1.5 billion people who voted in India and Indonesia earlier this year.

If you value this newsletter and the idea behind it, please support me by sharing it with your friends, colleagues, or anyone else who you think might be interested. You can forward this email to them, or share it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I want more people to read these stories, and your support in spreading them would mean a lot.

Content note: As more Asia elections are approaching – Japan’s upper house ones being next – I’ve brought back the elections section.

Undercovered this week

William Yang from Deutsche Welle’s Taiwan bureau writes about how China is using the threat of retaliation against family members as a way to quiet Uyghur voices abroad.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Free Press looks at how increased tourism to Xinjiang creates a strange juxtaposition with the concentration camps, as visitors only see a tightly-controlled version of traditional customs and culture.

Worrying post-election news from Indonesia. A teacher has been arrested under for allegedly spreading fake news when she called on schools to remove the President’s picture after the Constitutional Court ruled that he had won re-election. Could this be a sign that anti-hoax laws could see expanded use? (Jakarta Post)

While Chennai bakes, Mumbai floods. The culprit – climate change, and it is likely to make flooding and drought both worse in India, argues Down to Earth.

In South Korea a people’s tribunal seeks to investigate allegations of abuses by Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War. An attempt to open up and provide justice for a dark, often forgotten part of the country’s history (Han Gil Jang, Asia Pacific Journal).


We have an opponent. The opposition KMT has chosen the controversial, recently elected mayor of Kaohsiung to run in next year’s important Presidential race. With strong evidence that he is backed by China, this means that the future of Taiwan could be up for vote (New Bloom Magazine).

Singapore too, will hold elections soon, many think. The Parliamentary system, along with the power of the ruling People’s Action Party to draw boundaries, and a very short (nine day!) campaigning period all make it difficult for the opposition to effectively challenge their control (Kirsten Han, Lowy Interpreter)

Lighter note: Traveling in the past

China in the 1980s was a slowly opening up country that presented both opportunities and challenges for the few tourists who ventured that way. In this longform piece, Peter Neville-Hadley explores the early days of travel in China through the pages of the 1984 edition of Lonely Planet’s first guidebook to the country (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.