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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 31 March 2021

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 31 March 2021

This is how I felt this week. A ship that harmed no one dominated global coverage, while the stories of Asian facing repression and death were undercovered.

Here’s what the media missed while focusing on that ship: government repression, censorship, and more.

The use of Uyghur online is under threat, as even the language and script is censored by China. In this piece, Filip Noubel explores the power of online spaces for cultural preservation and how that space has shrunk dramatically (Global Voices).

And there was a moment, early last month, when the Myanmar coup was getting global attention. But, as my tweet shows, attention has shifted, even as the military escalates its use of violence. But, despite this, residents are continuing to stand up for freedom, including women, reports May Nyein Chan for Reporting Asean.

Worrying news from Cambodia, where a planned internet gateway could intensify surveillance and censorshop, reports Mong Palatino. If it sounds like its influenced by China, that’s because it is (Global Voices).

In Indonesia, some saw President Joko Widodo’s call for justice in how telecommunications laws are used as a hopeful sign for a press increasingly under threat. But as Jim Nolan argues for The Interpreter, without concrete legal action, his words mean little.

In India, two Hindu monks are on hunger strike to protest sand mining, dam construction along the holy Ganga river, one of the world’s most famous pilgrimage destinations, bringing attention to the environmental threats the river faces (Varsha Singh, The Third Pole).

It’s been a year now that Thailand has been under a state of emergency. The stated reason is the pandemic, but many feel that its being used as an excuse by the government to clamp down on civil society, the press, and the ongoing pro-democracy movement (Prachatai).


If he wins the next Philippines election, he will immediately become the first or second most recognizable Asian head of state in western media (and guesses on who the other, well-known leader is?)

Tibet’s government-in-exile is a democracy, and the two leading candidates for the Sikyong, the equivalent of President, have been announced – Penpa Tsering and Aukatsang Kelsang Dorjee. Here’s a bit on the importance of these elections, which aim to represent Tibetans in exile, but also those under Chinese occupation, too (Tibetan Review).


Here’s an interesting argumentSouth Korea should stand up for the rights of Mongolians in China, who are seeing their culture and language increasingly under threat. There is a real connection between the two communities, who share a common linguistic heritage (East Asia Forum).

In late 2020, a Chinese Unmanned Underwater Vehicle was found in Indonesian waters, in breach of international law. In this piece for Southeast Asia Globe, Aristyo Rizka Darmawan argues for a strong response to prevent further breaches.

Solutions Stories

Japan is slowly shifting towards e-payments and e-money. But in some parts of the country, this is taking a decidedly unique turn through the creation of local digital currencies aimed at improving community economies (Kazuaki Nagata, Japan Times).

And in this fascinating piece Mirjam Künkler and Eva F. Nisa look at how female Islamic leaders are proving pandemic relief to families in Indonesia, via new and creative ways, helping believers cope with crisis (IAAS Asia).

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