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Asia Undercovered Round-up: 8 June 2021 (🎉)

Asia Undercovered Round-up: 8 June 2021 (🎉)

This week: How China occupied Tibet, a Himalayan hero passes, and the geopolitics of New Guinea.

Undercovered last week

In 1951, China forced Tibet  to accept a 17-point agreement that ended its independence and forced  it to submit to its neighbor. Even that was too much, as the terms were  violated, leading to the Dalai Lama’s flight in 1959. In this piece, RFA reminds us that the ruling Communist Party has long been reneging on deals, as history repeats itself in Hong Kong.

On a similar note – reporting from within China is getting more difficult month by month, as limitations on reporters grow, and more are expelled for doing their job. James Thorpe writes for Foreign Policy  that “the result of this is that it is even harder for outsiders—and  even most Chinese—to understand what is happening inside the country.”

Another hero lost:  Sunderlal Bahuguna, who dedicated his life to saving the Himalayas from  logging and development, died last month from Covid-19, but also, as  Joydeep Gupta writes for The Third Pole, a broken heart, as he was devastated by his failed to stop the construction of the Tehri dam in Uttarakhand, India

The island of Palawan in the Philippines could be broken up into 3 provinces  – a move that, many fear, could weaken weaken environmental management  and endanger ecosystems partly due to fears it would enable corruption (Mongabay).

Two years ago, I attended the 30th Anniversary vigil for the Tiananmen Square massacre in Hong Kong. For the second straight year, it’s been banned. Here’s a photo essay from HKFP on the sad day in a city quickly losing its freedoms.

Worth reading: Northeast India – the small states near Bangladesh and Myanmar get little attention in global or even regional media. In this piece from TNI,  the authors give an overview of the region’s conflicts and dynamics  since independence, and key issues around resource extraction,  indigenous rights, and citizenship.

In Myanmar, the situation remains worrying. To get a feel for how it is for activists and journalists day-by-day, read this piece by Han Kha-Ray,  a 21 year old freelance journalist in Shan State, about their avoiding  being arrested, how the military is clamping down, and experiencing  violence daily (Reporting ASEAN).

Another journalist attacked, this time in Pakistan, where Asad Ali Toor was assaulted in his home in a brazen assault on reporting (IPI).


Prime  Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP struggles in this year’s state elections  in India didn’t necessarily mean success for the opposition Congress  party, which is increasingly becoming irrelevant, as its regional parties that are leading the anti-BJP charge, writes Arun Swamy for East Asia Forum.

Something to watch in Thailand – efforts to amend the new Constitution,  which could have serious implications for the quasi-democracy. Will the  military-led coalition cement power? Will the opposition be able to  advance real reforms? (Prachatai).


On the island of New Guinea, split between two nations, the rising conflict on the Indonesian side, in West Papua cannot be ignored by the independent nation of Papua New Guinea, argues Leanne Jorari for The Interpreter.

Solutions Stories

Just one this week, from Down To Earth, where V. Sundararaju reports on a wonder bamboo native  to the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and the role it could play in  mitigating climate due to its unique, carbon sucking properties.

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