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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 7 Nov 2023

This week: Why Laos is relying on China, pollution in Kashmir, illegal plantations in Indonesia, and a shoutout to the best investigation I've read all year.
Asia Undercovered Round-up: 7 Nov 2023

Undercovered last week

Another sign of how the space for civil society is shrinking in an increasingly undemocratic India. 4 NGOs have had their tax status revoked. The reason? Daring to challenge Adani, the mega-conglomerate closely linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (News Laundry)

Deeply worrying: The Taliban government in Afghanistan might start using Huawei's surveillance technology. Uyghurs, in particular, fear the consequences, reports Ruth Ingram for China Project.

We're nearing 3 years since the 2021 Myanmar coup. While fighting continues, the situation has reached an impasse, or, as David Scott Mathieson calls it, a "new abnormal," as the economy continues to suffer from disastrous decision-making by the military.

In Odisha, India, Adivasi Indigenous women are trekking and collectivizing in their fight against the Sijimali mining project, which they worry could end up destroying a fragile ecosystem and their entire way of life (Bhanupriya Rao).

Several major Asian PR and advertising firms are working with fossil fuel companies, helping them deflect attention for their role in not only climate change, but human rights violations across the continent (Robin Hicks, Eco Business).

A fascinating story by David Bandurski for China Media Project about how fake media outlets are extorting businesses by threatening to report on their environmental crimes, and how the core problem is the complete lack of legitimacy that journalists have in the country, due to the role of the Chinese Communist Party.

Electoral Politics

The status quo may have prevailed, for now, in Thailand, but the future is bright for the Move Forward Party, who are winning by-elections and have all the momentum going forward (Ken Mathis Lohatepanont, Thai Enquirer).

Singapore has a new President, though the election of Tharman Shanmugaratnam to the mostly ceremonial post is only notable for a shift in ethnic voting patterns, argues Ian Hollinger in one of the last pieces published by the great Southeast Asia Globe.


Worth reading: Lack of trust between countries in Southeast Asia and China could impact relations between the region and its largest trading partner, writes Rahman Yaacob for Lowy Interpreter. There are also concerns among diplomats about China's efforts to use economic power to influence Southeast Asian states through coercion.


This week, two solutions about workers.

The first one is from Nicha Wachpanich for HardStories, and it's about how labor unions in Thailand, a country with a paltry union rate, are organizing online and working together to share information and organize.

The second is from BehanBox and highlights an unlikely labor success story – a union led by a young Dalit women who forced a garment factory to accept a legally binding, historic agreement in South India.

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.