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Asia Undercovered #50

Asia Undercovered #50

First, credit due to a story that was well covered this week. I hope you saw the damning front-page New York Times report of a massive document leak that implicated Xi Jinping himself in the Xinjiang human rights crisis. I hopeful – but, sadly, skeptical – that this will finally lead to long overdue global action.

Undercovered this week

Meanwhile, a trickle of Uyghurs are being released from camps after 2+ years, often to forced labor – not really “freedom.” This moving piece by Ruth Ingram explores what this means for The Diplomat.

In Indonesia, the most popular member of President Joko Widodo’s cabinet, Susi Pudjiastuti, who amassed an impressive record when it comes to enforcing fisheries regulations, has been replaced. She leaves big shoes to fill and uncertainly with inexperienced successor (Basten Gokkon, Mongabay).

In India, the Supreme Court finally ruled on the fate of the land upon once stood the 15th century Babri Mosque, demolished by Hindu nationalists in 1992. Here’s some background on the case from Stratfor, and a desperate plea by Aman Memon that India not follow the mistakes of its neighbor Pakistan, when it abandoned secularism after independence (Madras Courier).

Meanwhile in Kashmir, the blackout continues. 100 days, no internet access.

This is fascinating. South Korea plans to abolish elite high schools, including international schools and private schools, as a move aimed at addressing educational disparity. (Straits Times)


Could Indonesia turn to the United States to counter Chinese influence? Jarryd de Haan sees clues in recent meetings between top officials from both countries of an emerging bloc – and explores the potential implications (Future Directions).

The battle for 5G now turns to Southeast Asia, where countries are far more wary of banning Huawei than the US would hope. An excellent read on the geopolitical of telecommunications by Huong Le Thu for Global Asia.


Internet freedom is an issue in Southeast Asia, with election manipulation taking place in all three countries that held elections earlier this year.

Facebook has announced it will step up efforts to counter disinformation ahead of next January elections in Taiwan. Chances are China will do all it can to interfere (SCMP).

Sri Lanka held elections this weekend, with strongman Gotabhaya Rajapaksa winning handily. For minority Tamils, the outcome couldn’t have been worse (The Hindu).

And a shocker from Indonesia, as Prabowo Subianto has decided to join Jokowi’s cabinet as Ministry of Defense. Airlangga Pribadi Kusman explores why Indonesia’s political divide is vanishing so fast, and what this means for the still-young democracy (Indonesia at Melbourne).

Lighter note

In China, a new type of tourism is taking off – hipster tours that focus on cultural immersion or the environment rather than rapid-fire visits via buses. A trend to watch as Chinese tourism grows globally (Sixth Tone).

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.