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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 30 Aug 2023

This week: Refugees face more hurdles in Japan, new Prime Ministers but little real change in Thailand and Cambodia, and growing herbs to save forests in Bangladesh.
Asia Undercovered Round-up: 30 Aug 2023

Undercovered last week

Japan recently approved a new set of revisions to its immigration and refugee act, which would, many fear, make the already unwelcoming country more able to deport asylum seekers and put innocent people in harms way (Yunchen Tian, East Asia Forum).

A new forestry law has, with no susbtantive debate, passed into law in India. There are fears that it could weaken safeguards against over-exploitation of forest resources and harm indigenous rights, with the more fervent opposition coming from the country's Northeast (Rokibuz Zaman, Scroll.in)

How not to respond. Instead of dealing with the Uyghur crisis in a reasonable way – like pushing the government to cease its repression, companies are, according to Magnus Fiskesjö, hiding connectiong to Xinjiang and obfuscating forced labor links (The Diplomat).

Meanwhile, China's dictator, Xi Jinping, has once again gone into hiding as floods ravaged northern China earlier this month. This has led to mocking online, reports Alexandar Boyd for CDT.

Worth reading: Being a journalist in Vietnam means walking a tightrope between government control and financial concerns. This illuminating piece by Hướng Thiện in New Naratif explores how journalists balance these concerns how it impacts the coverage read by Vietnamese people

Electoral Politics

Thailand has a new Prime Minister, finally, but it's not Pita Limjaroenrat, nor does the ruling coalition include his Move Forward Party, despite it being the largest in Parliament. Instead, the royalists and conservatives have teamed up with Pheu Thai's Srettha Thavisin, pushing MFP to the opposition (Prachatai).

And Cambodia has a new Prime Minster, kind of. Hun Manet has taken over for this father, as the country shifts from faux-democracy to total nepocracy (Andrew Haffnew, Southeast Asia Globe).


With new Prime Ministers in Thailand and Cambodia representing the same forces as the past and because of this, Jitsiree Thongnoi writes in this piece that there likely won't be much change when dealing with China, unfortunately (Lowy Interpreter).

Japan took a step in the right direction, excluding the Myanmar junta from recent ASEAN and G7 meetings it hosted, and that should be the standard going forward, argues this op-ed in Progressive Myanmar.

Solutions Stories

Really enjoyed this piece by Dolma Lhamo for RFA, which illuminates the growing popularity of Tibetan rappers, including in Tibet, where they hope their songs will inspire those living under Chinese repression.

And in Bangladesh, one village has found it can make more profits from growing traditional herbs rather than cutting down trees, providing livelihoods while also protecting the environment (Mohammad Al-Masum Molla, Mongabay).

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.