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Asia Undercovered #48

Asia Undercovered #48

This week: Indonesia protests, Xinjiang video ignored (again), Amazon in Japan and Xi Jingping though in Nepal.

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Wrongly Covered: Indonesia protests

For more than two weeks, Indonesia has seen widespread protests around a planned legal reform. Unfortunately, western media coverage has been lacking, and what little attention there is has, mostly, focused on just one aspect of the law: extramarital sex.

This plays into stereotypes about Islam, Asians, and also simplifies the movement, which in actuality has seven broad demands and focused on the creeping authoritarianism and militarism facing the country.

For better reporting, read this piece by Stanley Widianto, an Indonesian journalist, which explains the reasons behind opposition to the criminal bill, and this op-ed by Ika Krismantari for the Jakarta Post, which explains why students are the forefront of this movement.

Undercovered this week

Sadly, this has been the global reaction to the video I mentioned in the last issue of Asia Undercovered, and, frankly, all the news from Xinjiang over the past two years.

Kudos to Jacobin for publishing this in-depth feature by Tamara Soukotta on West Papua, and why locals are rising up against colonial, militaristic rule by Indonesia.

Unlike Indonesia, the Hong Kong protests have gotten plenty of coverage, and are now in their fourth month, with no end in sight. I wanted to share this piece in Chinese Storytellers, which explores the emotional toll of covering the protests from the perspective of journalists on the ground (Isabelle Niu).

Cambodia has seen several setbacks with regards to human rights over the past year. In this piece for Southeast Asia Globe, Chak Sopheap looks at how the country can get back onto a democratic, constitutional path.

This is China today. One man does a solo protest against dictator Xi Jingping. He gets jailed, and two months later, dies in detention. Does anyone doubt that his death was due to state brutality, as has been documented countless times in recent years (RFA)?

The Philippines leads the world in killing of environmental defenders. Doing something as simple as protecting a forest, or raising awareness of degradation, is enough to get you targeted (Leilani Chavez,Mongabay)

Amazon, the global e-commerce giant, has gotten plenty of flak for its labor and worker violations in the United States. Turns out, as an undercover investigation in Japan found, the situation is as bad there (Global Voices).


Is Nepal turning into a Chinese colony? A new training program on Xi Jingping thought, the guiding doctrine of the Communist Party, is raising concerns about its giant neighbor’s influence in the small, landlocked country (Kathmandu Post)

It has not gotten much attention, but Chinese intrusions into contested waters of the South China Sea have been increasing. Vietnam, the primary victim, is finding that outside support, thus far, is lacking from neighbors (The Diplomat)

And lastly, there is a new Great Game taking place, as India, Russia, and China jockey for position in Central Asia. In this piece for Future Directions, Auriol Weigold looks at how India, late to the game, is planning to implement an “extended neighborhood” policy.

Lighter note

I try to balance my stories between positive and negative. After showing several stories critical of Indonesia in the intro, here’s something entirely different – a project in Bali that is bringing sustainable oyster farming to the island – a valuable source of income and a boon to the islands marine ecosystems.

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.