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Category Archives: Asia

The Jungle Prince of Delhi

On a spring afternoon in 2016, when I was working in India, I received a telephone message from a recluse who lived in a forest in the middle of Delhi.

The message was passed on by our office manager through Gchat, and it thrilled me so much that I preserved it.

Office manager: Ellen have you been trying to get in touch with the royal family of Oudh?

Ellen: this has to be the best telephone message ever

Office manager: It was quite strange! The secretary left precise instructions for when you should call her — tomorrow between 11 am and 12 noon

Ellen: oh my god

I knew about the royal family of Oudh, of course. They were one of the city’s great mysteries. Their story was passed between tea sellers and rickshaw drivers and shopkeepers in Old Delhi: In a forest, they said, in a palace cut off from the city that surrounds it, lived a prince, a princess and a queen, said to be the last of a storied Shiite Muslim royal line.

There were different versions, depending on whom you spoke to. Some people said the Oudh family had been there since the British had annexed their kingdom, in 1856, and that the forest had grown up around the palace, engulfing it. Some said they were a family of jinns, the supernatural beings of Arabian folklore.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2020 in Asia, Reportages

 

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Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’

Who can use the term “gone viral” now without shuddering a little? Who can look at anything any more — a door handle, a cardboard carton, a bag of vegetables — without imagining it swarming with those unseeable, undead, unliving blobs dotted with suction pads waiting to fasten themselves on to our lungs?

Who can think of kissing a stranger, jumping on to a bus or sending their child to school without feeling real fear? Who can think of ordinary pleasure and not assess its risk? Who among us is not a quack epidemiologist, virologist, statistician and prophet? Which scientist or doctor is not secretly praying for a miracle? Which priest is not — secretly, at least — submitting to science?

And even while the virus proliferates, who could not be thrilled by the swell of birdsong in cities, peacocks dancing at traffic crossings and the silence in the skies?

The number of cases worldwide this week crept over a million. More than 50,000 people have died already. Projections suggest that number will swell to hundreds of thousands, perhaps more. The virus has moved freely along the pathways of trade and international capital, and the terrible illness it has brought in its wake has locked humans down in their countries, their cities and their homes.

https://dnyuz.com/2020/04/04/arundhati-roy-the-pandemic-is-a-portal/

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2020 in Asia

 

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China rolls out the Health Silk Road

In a graphic demonstration of soft power, so far China has offered Covid-19-related equipment and medical help to no fewer than 89 nations — and counting.

That covers Africa (especially South Africa, Namibia and Kenya, with Alibaba in fact announcing it will send help to all African nations); Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru); the arc from East Asia to Southwest Asia; and Europe.

Key recipients in Europe include Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Serbia and Poland. But Italy, most of all, is a very special case. Most are donations. Some are trade like millions of masks sold to France (and the US).

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/China-rolls-out-the-Health-by-Pepe-Escobar-China-New-Silk-Roads_China-Politics_Covid-19_Doctors-200403-616.html

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2020 in Asia

 

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Coronavirus: South Korea’s success in controlling disease is due to its acceptance of surveillance

South Korea has been widely praised for its management of the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19. The focus has largely been on South Korea’s enormous virus testing programme.

What hasn’t been so widely reported is the country’s heavy use of surveillance technology, notably CCTV and the tracking of bank card and mobile phone usage, to identify who to test in the first place. And this is an important lesson for more liberal countries that might be less tolerant of such privacy invading measures but are hoping to emulate South Korea’s success.

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-south-koreas-success-in-controlling-disease-is-due-to-its-acceptance-of-surveillance-134068

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2020 in Asia

 

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Life on Lockdown in China

On the twenty-seventh day of the coronavirus lockdown in Chengdu, in southwestern China, five masked men appeared in the lobby of my apartment building in order to deliver a hundred-inch TCL Xclusive television. It was late morning, and I was taking my nine-year-old twin daughters, Ariel and Natasha, outside to get some air. The three of us also were wearing surgical masks, and we stopped to watch the deliverymen. I had never seen such an enormous TV; it arrived in an eight-foot-long box that weighed more than three hundred pounds. Two of the deliverymen stood inside an elevator with a tape measure, trying to figure out whether the box would fit. Otherwise, it was going to be a long haul up the stairs to the twenty-eighth floor.

By that point, the country was deep into the most ambitious quarantine in history, with at least seven hundred and sixty million people confined largely to their homes. The legal groundwork had been established on January 20th, when the National Health Commission designated the highest level of treatment and control to fight the new coronavirus, which eventually became known as COVID-19. After that, provinces and municipalities issued their own regulations, and the Chengdu government passed its first measures on January 24th. They were tightened seven days later, when it became clear that the epidemic had reached a point of crisis: during that week, the number of reported deaths in China had increased more than sixfold. By the end of January, there were a total of 11,791 confirmed cases, with two hundred and fifty-nine deaths.

My family rents an apartment in a nine-building complex not far from the center of Chengdu, where I teach writing at a local university. We chose the place, last September, primarily for its location: the apartment blocks are situated beside a pleasant, tree-lined stretch of the Fu River, and there’s a subway stop outside one of the side gates. But, after the quarantine began, the subway was deserted and both side entrances were chained shut. Anybody who arrived at the main gate was greeted by an infrared temperature gun to the forehead. The gun was wielded by a government-assigned volunteer in a white hazmat suit, and, behind him, a turnstile led to a thick plastic mat soaked with a bleach solution. A sign read “Shoe Sole Disinfecting Area,” and there was always a trail of wet prints leading away from the mat, like a footbath at a public swimming pool.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/life-on-lockdown-in-china

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2020 in Asia, Reportages

 

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Chi ha saputo usare la tecnologia per combattere l’epidemia

Come ha fatto l’epidemia a diffondersi dall’epicentro di Wuhan al resto della Cina e del mondo? Il New York Times ha avuto accesso ai dati dei cellulari degli abitanti di Wuhan relativi a dicembre e gennaio, nelle settimane che hanno preceduto le misure di isolamento e in cui le autorità nascondevano ancora le informazioni sulla comparsa di un virus sconosciuto.

Il risultato è una visualizzazione spettacolare che rivela gli spostamenti di milioni di persone verso Pechino, Shanghai, Seoul, l’Europa e l’America. I dati mostrano anche in che modo i danni avrebbero potuto essere limitati con una risposta più tempestiva.

Questo uso della tecnologia e delle enormi quantità di dati disponibili permette di comprendere meglio cosa è accaduto, ma anche di combattere più efficacemente la propagazione del virus.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/pierre-haski/2020/03/24/coronavirus-tecnologia-privacy

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2020 in Asia

 

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La lezione della Corea del Sud nella lotta al Covid-19

Per contenere l’epidemia di Covid-19 la Corea del Sud ha fatto ricorso alla tecnologia. Il primo caso nel paese è stato segnalato il 20 gennaio del 2020. Il 14 febbraio i casi confermati erano 28. Sulla base di esperienze precedenti, le autorità coreane hanno usato strumenti tecnologici innovativi per individuare le persone che erano state esposte al virus e che avrebbero potuto essere state infettate.

La Corea del Sud ha infatti già affrontato un’epidemia simile a quella del Covid-19 nel 2015, quando il paese è stato colpito da un altro coronavirus, che provoca una malattia chiamata Mers, o Middle east respiratory syndrome (i due virus sono simili tra loro, ma non uguali). Il paese asiatico aveva così già sviluppato conoscenze, sistemi e normative per affrontare la diffusione di un virus nuovo, i cui effetti clinici sono ignoti, di cui non si conoscono le caratteristiche epidemiologiche e per il quale non esiste un farmaco specifico.

https://www.internazionale.it/notizie/claudia-grisanti/2020/03/18/lezione-corea-sud-covid-19

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2020 in Asia

 

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China locked in hybrid war with US

Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus.

Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronovirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack. Xi’s terminology is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a “people’s war” had to be launched.

Moreover, he described the virus as a demon or devil. Xi is a Confucianist. Unlike some other ancient Chinese thinkers, Confucius was loath to discuss supernatural forces and judgment in the afterlife. However, in a Chinese cultural context, devil means “white devils” or “foreign devils”: guailo in Mandarin, gweilo in Cantonese. This was Xi delivering a powerful statement in code.

When Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, voiced in an incandescent tweet the possibility that “it might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan” — the first blast to this effect to come from a top official — Beijing was sending up a trial balloon signaling that the gloves were finally off. Zhao Lijian made a direct connection with the Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019, which included a delegation of 300 US military.

He directly quoted US CDC director Robert Redfield who, when asked last week whether some deaths by coronavirus had been discovered posthumously in the US, replied that “some cases have actually been diagnosed this way in the US today.”

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/China-locked-in-hybrid-war-by-Pepe-Escobar-China_China-And-Hong-Kong_Coronavirus_Covid-19-200318-569.html

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2020 in Asia

 

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Kleurt de code groen? Dan mag de Wenzhou’er weer naar buiten (tot ‘ie op geel of rood springt)

Met een harde pets belandt het mondkapje van Qiao Zijin op tafel. Hier kan hij het met een gerust hart afzetten. “Ik weet dat het hier veilig is.” De goedlachse koffieverkoper laat de groene code op zijn telefoon zien die zegt dat hij gezond is. Zijn vrienden hebben zo’n zelfde code op hun telefoon.

https://www.trouw.nl/buitenland/kleurt-de-code-groen-dan-mag-de-wenzhou-er-weer-naar-buiten-tot-ie-op-geel-of-rood-springt~bd867193/

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2020 in Asia

 

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Prayers at fire-bombed mosques as India’s riot toll grows

Muslims in a northeastern neighborhood of India’s capital returned for weekly prayers at fire-bombed mosques on Friday, two days after a 72-hour clash between Hindus and Muslims that left at least 40 dead and hundreds injured.

Five days after the riots started, authorities have not said what sparked the worst communal violence in New Delhi in decades. Hospitals were still trying to identify the dead as the toll continued to rise, and residents of the areas affected by the riots were still seeking loved ones.

“If they burn our mosques, we will rebuild them again and pray. It’s our religious right and nobody can stop us from practicing our religion,” said Mohammad Sulaiman, who was among about 180 men who prayed on the rooftop of a mosque that was set on fire in the unrest.

https://www.heraldtribune.com/zz/news/20200228/prayers-at-fire-bombed-mosques-as-indias-riot-toll-grows

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2020 in Asia

 

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