2 min read

Asia Undercovered #52

Asia Undercovered #52

This is why Asia Undercovered exists.

Undercovered this week: Xinjiang update

Imagine not hearing from a friend for two years, knowing they are in the camps, while the world mostly remains silent. Abby McTague shares letters and stories about her friend Zainur Turdi, who treasured her Islamic identity, for Global Voices.

Hope for attention as this Japanese manga documenting the story of one Uyghur victim of China’s camps has gone viral. Another sign that, more than two years after the camps system began, public awareness is growing (Kyodo News).

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is facing increased challenges getting ethnic Han to work in Xinjiang, and Mimi Lau finds evidence that even they are fleeing the region (SCMP).

Elsewhere in Asia

In Indonesia, more and more cabinet appointees are making statements that put development and economic growth over democracy, with some even arguing that the two are in conflict. Worrying rhetoric from Southeast Asia’s so-called “model democracy” (Indonesia at Melbourne).

Vietnam may, soon, have the world’s first authoritarian, female head of state if current National Assembly Chair, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, is selected as General Secretary at the next Party Congress. Paul Shuler writes on the meaning of this for East Asia Forum.


With anti-Islam majoritarianism rising among its neighbors, Bangladesh faces a unique challenge to maintain good regional ties. A worthwhile read on the spillover effects of populism by Champa Patel and Rudabeh Shahib.

Aashna Jamal looks at the ongoing crackdown in Kashmirwhich remains under an internet blackout – through the lens of the occupation of East Timor decades ago (Madras Courier).

It’s official. China has more diplomatic posts than the US. Another sign of Asia’s growing soft-power might to equal its preeminent economic status (China Digital Times).


Malaysia is, finally, preparing to underdo an electoral reform process that could dramatically change how voters choose their representatives, shifting from a first-past-the-post system to one with mixed lists. A detailed read on the proposals fromBenjamin Reailly.

Taiwan’s election is approaching on January 11th. China is high on voters minds, due to the situation in Hong Kong which is making the dark reality of “one country, two systems” clear to all in the island nation (NPR).

Lighter note

This lovely, photo essay-style piece by Mari Saito looks at Lake Siwa in Japan and its unique ice formations which have been documented for hundreds of years, but are now disappearing due to climate change (Reuters)

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.