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Category Archives: Asia

What I didn’t write about Zhanaozen

In December 2011, an oil workers’ strike in the city of Zhanaozen in south-west Kazakhstan dissolved into a riot. Security forces opened fire on protesters. According to unofficial statistics, up to 64 people were killed and 400 wounded. Novaya Gazeta correspondent Elena Kostyuchenko arrived in Zhanaozen immediately after the disturbances and wrote about what she saw. Half a year later, Kostyuchenko chose to return to the city — but found herself unable to write anything. Now she explains why.

I had 12,000 roubles on my card, which I thought would be enough. For some reason, I didn’t want to ask our editorial team to cover the trip. I didn’t even want to mention it to them. I agreed with my colleague Artemyeva that she would cover for me. For several nights in a row, I took a taxi to the airport, planning to buy a ticket and fly there and then. But every time, I arrived too late and didn’t make it. I would return home on the airport express train. I finally boarded a flight on my fourth attempt.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/elena-kostyuchenko/what-i-didnt-write-about-zhanaozen

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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Asia

 

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A looming humanitarian crisis in the land Orwell forgot

A potential humanitarian crisis, with geopolitical ramifications across Central Asia and the Middle East, may be imminent in a country few in the West have heard of and even fewer can find on a map: Turkmenistan. While there is still a chance for the country to reverse its course, it is highly unlikely it will, as the ruling regime appears to be hell bent on maintaining its power at all costs. This is the deeply troubling assessment by analysts and news agencies observing the country – one of the world’s most closed societies, rivalling the likes of North Korea. It is unknown whether a humanitarian crisis would lead to the state’s partial collapse. However, rumours of a possible Russian intervention upon Turkmenistan’s border with Afghanistan and speculation of backdoor negotiations with the Persian Gulf rivals of its neighbour and erstwhile trading partner, Iran, are among the many worrying signs that the government is struggling to manage a rapidly evolving and complex situation.

http://neweasterneurope.eu/2017/10/31/looming-humanitarian-crisis-land-orwell-forgot/

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2018 in Asia

 

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The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China

The geopolitical focus of the still young 21st century spans the Indian Ocean from the Persian Gulf all the way to the South China Sea alongside the spectrum from Southwest Asia to Central Asia and China. That happens to configure the prime playing ground, overland and maritime, of the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The epicenter of global power shifting East is rattling US Think Tankland to the core – with a proliferation of parochial analyses ranging from Chinese “imperial overstretch” to Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream provoking “nightmares“.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/16/the-myth-of-a-neo-imperial-china/

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2018 in Asia

 

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Japan struggles to overcome its groping problem

A group of men boarded the women-only car of the Chiyoda Line subway in Tokyo during the morning commute on Feb. 16 as a form of protest, saying that excluding men was a form of discrimination. Such protests are not unusual, but the media almost never covers them. In this case, the women who were already on the train objected loudly, but the men refused to leave after the train arrived at Kokkai-gijidomae Station, thus prompting station staff to become involved. Then, one of the protesters pushed the emergency stop button on the platform. The train ended up being delayed by more than 15 minutes.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/17/national/media-national/japan-struggles-overcome-groping-problem/#.WsjksoDOO9c

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2018 in Asia

 

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Echoes of Mao as Xi Jinping ends term limits

Has Xi Jinping just made himself president for life?

The announcement on Sunday that China will amend its state constitution to remove the two-term limit for the presidency has seemingly cleared the way for just that.

Under the old constitutional provisions, Xi would have been required to step aside as president in early 2023, when his second five-year term would come to an end. Xi would not necessarily have had to cede power, however. There are no terms limits for one of the other key positions he occupies, that of secretary of the communist party, the office in which true power resides in China.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/echoes-mao-xi-jinping-ends-term-limits

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Asia

 

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Deadly proposals

SHE had come home for vacations. Asma Rani, a medical student, was studying at a medical college in Abbottabad. She was in her third year, only two years shy of becoming a full-fledged doctor. In pictures, she smiles at the camera, shy but also confident and completely unaware of the horror that would define her last moments.

Those last moments, captured on video and played on social media screens, are terrifying ones. In them, the young and dying Asma Rani, who has just been shot, says the name of her murderer, Mujahid Afridi. It takes everything she has left.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1386255

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2018 in Asia

 

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Charm offensive: Kim out to wield soft power at Winter Games

It started with a surprisingly – indeed, shockingly – conciliatory broadcast from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Now, some in South Korea are calling the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics “the Pyongyang Games.”

Following 2017’s soaring nuclear tensions and rhetorical conflict between Washington and Pyongyang, the news that North Korea would participate in the Winter Olympics electrified the world. Since then, developments have proceeded at warp speed. Observers are now torn between feverish hopes for some kind of a breakthrough, and weary cynicism that we have seen it all before.

While credible rumors circulating in the South suggest that North Korea’s inclusion in the Games was, in fact, initiated by South Korea – during secret talks with North Korean officials in China – it is North that has been dominating headlines, both on the peninsula and globally. And it is North Korean officials who labelled, splendidly, the country’s appearance at Pyeonchang a “New Year’s gift” to the Korean people.

http://www.atimes.com/article/charm-offensive-kim-wield-soft-power-winter-games/

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in Asia

 

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Why Attack Afghan Civilians? Creating Chaos Rewards Taliban

They were hardly the first Taliban attacks in the capital. Still, there was something particularly alarming in their scale and implication about the pair of episodes, just a week apart, that rocked Afghanistan: a hotel siege that killed 22, then a car bomb, loaded into an ambulance, that killed 103.

But the question of why — why target bystanders, and in such numbers — is perhaps best answered not by peering into the minds of the attackers but by examining the structure of a war that increasingly pulls its participants toward the senseless.

Whether the week’s events will translate into a long-term gain for the Taliban or serve only as a terrible but temporary show of force, the attacks embody the trends toward violence and disintegration that appear to be only worsening in Afghanistan.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Asia

 

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Why Is Papua New Guinea Still Hunting Witches?

In most parts of the world, stories about witch-hunts are confined to documentaries and mini-series. But in the Southeast Asian nation of Papua New Guinea, real-life witch-hunts that end in torture or murder are so commonplace they rarely make the evening news. Most also go uninvestigated by police. This comes despite the introduction of the death penalty for witch-hunting in 2013, after Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old woman accused of using witchcraft to kill a neighbor’s boy, was burnt alive on a busy street corner as hundreds of people looked on.

But late last year, when news broke that a six-year-old girl accused of sorcery had been tortured by a group of men and only narrowly escaped with her life following a daring rescue mission by lay-missionary Anton Lutz from Iowa, the story made headlines not only in PNG but across the world.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/why-is-papua-new-guinea-still-hunting-witches/

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Asia

 

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Making China Great Again

When the Chinese action movie “Wolf Warrior II” arrived in theatres, in July, it looked like a standard shoot-’em-up, with a lonesome hero and frequent explosions. Within two weeks, however, “Wolf Warrior II” had become the highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time. Some crowds gave it standing ovations; others sang the national anthem. In October, China selected it as its official entry in the foreign-language category of the Academy Awards.

The hero, Leng Feng, played by the action star Wu Jing (who also directed the film), is a veteran of the “wolf warriors,” special forces of the People’s Liberation Army. In retirement, he works as a guard in a fictional African country, on the frontier of China’s ventures abroad. A rebel army, backed by Western mercenaries, attempts to seize power, and the country is engulfed in civil war. Leng shepherds civilians to the gates of the Chinese Embassy, where the Ambassador wades into the battle and declares, “Stand down! We are Chinese! China and Africa are friends.” The rebels hold their fire, and survivors are spirited to safety aboard a Chinese battleship.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/08/making-china-great-again

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Asia

 

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