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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 29 March 2022

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 29 March 2022

This week: Elections results from East Timor, a crisis in Sri Lanka, and a forgotten Chinese-Indonesian hero.

Undercovered last week

A country of 21 million is facing a sudden, dramatic economic meltdown, to the point that refugees are fleeing and fuel/paper shortages are being reported. Doesn’t that merit global attention? That country is Sri Lanka and according to NDTV, high dependence on exports is part of the problem.

Lower water flows – due to both climate change, and dam construction upstream – are changing life in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. This piece by Nguyen Thuy Mien explores this “new normal” and how government support can improve food security in the future (HB Stiftung).

Worth watching: According to The Irawaddy, Myamnar’s junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing, hasn’t been seen in public in more than a week – the first such instance since last year’s coup.

Xinjiang has a new party chief, with Ma Xingrui replacing the brutal Chen Quanquo, the architect of the internment camps. But has anything changed for Uyghurs? Darren Byler explores the noticeable shifts – such as being able to pump one’s own gas – and what this may portend (SupChina).

A Tibetan singer put himself on fire outside the Potola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Good luck finding anything on this on social media, as China’s information controls are total and complete.

An investigation by Prachatai uncovered how Thais were lured to Cambodia for illegal business activities, including online fraud schemes, which would be seen as a form of human trafficking (Yiamyut Sutthichaya, Natchalee Singsaohae)

Police are using violence and repressive tactics to break up student protests against the creation of new provinces in West Papua, a plan they feel will only dilute the region’s autonomy. This is the latest in a long series of agitation against Indonesia’s increasingly authoritarian, neocolonialist policies (AZ Report).

Electoral Politics

East Timor held its first-round elections last week: here are the results

For some background on the election, which includes the largest candidate field in the country’s short democratic history, read this piece by Brian P. D. Hannon for Southeast Asia Globe.

Meanwhile, despite polls showing Marcos Jr firmly ahead, his progressive opponent, Leni Robredo, is attracting large crowds at and attention at rallies – a sign of hope, perhaps?


Kazakhstan has been in the center of many things lately – protests that led to Russian intervention and now the ongoing war, which puts the country, which depends on its neighbor for trade and remittances, in a challenging position. In this piece, Loro Horta explores this, and the country’s other big neighbor, China, and the condominium facing the country (East Asia Forum).

Solutions Stories

I really loved this interactive, data-driven piece of journalist from Gwyneth Cheng and Kontinentalist, that explains the ongoing fight by farmers across Asia to save their seeds, foods, and crops and fight against corporate farming.

Sin Nio, a Chinese-Indonesian woman, fought the Dutch during the country’s national revolutions, and in many ways is a national hero. But she is little known, both abroad, and in her native country. Kevin Ng tells us about her, and how a new play seeks to revive her story (Coconuts).

Asia Undercovered: Round-ups and in-depth analysis of the news, events, trends and people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US media.

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