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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 3 July 2023

Activists demonstrate outside the Miri High Court in Malaysia.
Source: The Borneo Project.

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Undercovered last week

In Sarawak, Malaysia, an indigenous NGO fighting against illegal logging has, due to numerous defamation cases and legal threats, have forced to send invaluable resources in defense while the timber company aims to encroach on their land (Danielle Keeton-Olsen, Mongabay).

Fear is spreading in the North India state of Uttarakhand, where Muslims families fled a town after Hindu mobs rallied and demanded their departure. Another worrying sign of increasing religious tensions in the country (Zafar Aafaq, Scroll.in).

Worth watching: According to Joshua Kurlantzick, Laos has faced, in the past years, more protests and unrest than any time in decades, which could put the ruling Communist Party in uncharted waters (WPR).

Worth reading: This touching piece by Aysha Khan showcases a Uyghur photographer who, before fleeing, photographed the beauty of his homeland – places that, due to Chinese colonial occupation and exploitation, are being threatened (Analyst News).

Escaping Xinjiang is not easy, and getting increasingly difficult, as surveillance, lack of access to passports, and pervasive state control keep Uyghurs trapped at home, or in camps. This piece in Coda Story shares that, even back in 2014, they had to take a “notoriously dangerous route, known as the ‘smugglers’ road,’ through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand into Malaysia” to reach Turkey.”

Electoral Politics

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, now facing corruption charges, is not done fighting, and now is challenging the entity that holds true power in the country: the military (Imtiaz Gul, East Asia Forum).

Taiwan’s election is still half a year away, but, according to Courtney Donovan Smith, there are already calls for the opposition KMT to dump its candidate, Hou Yu-ih, who has so far been underwhelming and is flailing in the polls (Taiwan News).


It wasn’t that long ago that South Korea and China enjoyed strong relations, at least economically. Now, they’re in a downward spiral, with tit-for-tat restrictions, retaliations, and more, now common, especially as Seoul edges closer to Japan and the US on Indo-Pacific strategy (Pacific Forum).

Solutions Stories

On a much lighter note, really enjoyed this piece by Annika Yates, published in Mekong Review, on the women weightlifters of Vietnam’s national team, and how their strength is challenging cultural norms.

And a rare, lighter story from West Papua, which explores how in this island, salt doesn’t come from the sea, but from a wide variety of diverse forest plants, showing the true diversity of this region, but also humanity (Econusa).

Reporting Done Right

In this section, we highlight when a mainstream, western media outlet puts out a well reported article about an undercovered topic in Asia.

This story in NPR, notably reported by a local journalist, gives voice to women on a remote island, between Tamil Nadu, India, and Sri Lanka, and their unique practice of seaweed diving.

It’s visual, personal, and enlightens readers about a region that rarely gets attention in the mainstream media (via Kate Walton’s Solidaritas)

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. Curated by journalist Nithin Coca.