Wuhan Resists

And Hong Kong digs in

“Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.”

-Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.

What a lovely little line. It is truly astounding how, in the middle of a conversation, self-confidence can win the debate.

We have all been there, wholly convinced of an opinion in the middle of an argument only to sit back a few hours later and think, “wow, that was a really stupid opinion”.

This can be frustrating because it leads to poor decisions or a wish that we had offered a counterpoint during the talk.

In these moments, we should remind ourselves of Michelle Obama, who suffered from imposter syndrome until she realised she was the smartest person in a room filled with powerful people.

NOTE: Because this is a new format, I would appreciate any feedback about how Aseophile can be improved. :)

Quote of the Week: “Our work on the extradition bill amendment is a complete failure.”

-Carrie Lam, Hong Kong Chief Executive speaking to the press on Tuesday.


First Hong Kong protested. Now it’s Wuhan, China. What makes it Beijing’s latest headache?

What Happened: Residents in Wuhan, China demonstrated across the city in protest of a plan to build a new incinerator plant. While an incinerator may sound nice for garbage management, the city already suffers from air pollution thanks to previously mismanaged recycling projects.

While the protests in Hong Kong have gained international attention, what is happening in Wuhan may be more interesting. It is a full-blown protest against local grievances…that happens to be taking place in mainland China.

News is fairly censored but it has been leaking out faster than the government can catch it.

This is no threat to CCP rule, but it does make one wonder if we will see more protests as the centralised authoritarian government fails local issues.

Hong Kong protests continue

What Happened: On Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam admitted the extradition bill was ‘dead’ and that it had been a complete failure. She also said that the public’s trust in the government is fragile.

I would also opine that this public trust failure has spread to the police, who currently enjoy the lowest approval rating in recent memory.

On Sunday, protesters made a peaceful demonstration in the West Kowloon area of the city. This location was no accident. It is the most popular area for tourists from mainland China who are on a shopping spree.

The hope was to get their message to mainlanders walking by and hope a few of them take it back to their homes in China.

As the sun went down, the protests in Mong Kok got chaotic and a few people were arrested. Nobody was seriously hurt and, while the scenes are aggressive, I think the commentary is a bit overblown.

Roy Kwong: Roy Kwong is a local politician who is rapidly gaining popularity because of his calming force on the protests. He is very much supportive of the Hong Kong protests but he wants to get the average person on board so he advocates restraint and peaceful disobedience.

Amnesty calls out Philippines drug war

What Happened: Amnesty International has officially called on the United Nations to investigate the Philippines in what it calls a “gross human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed as part of the ‘war on drugs’.

The report documents police killings in poor neighbourhoods and it provides evidence that the murders may have been systematic.

Nothing is likely to come from this report, but it is a haymaker in terms of rhetoric and demands.

Who would dare to speak for Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump?

What Happened: This is a “where we stand” with North Korea after the pseudo-impromptu meeting at the demilitarised zone. At this point, while it is good we are no longer in a “fire and fury” relationship, it is hard to see where we go from here.

It seems like the relationship has hit a point whereby both sides are enthusiastic about the PR of these meetings, but it seems unlikely that anything meaningful will happen.

Asia has a swine flu problem

What Happened: Vietnam is in the middle of a swine flu epidemic and China has been dealing with their own contagion for months. Swine flu is highly contagious among pigs (it cannot be passed to humans) and can devastate pork farms.

In China, the government admitted ‘weaknesses’ in dealing with the outbreak that has resulted in the culling of 1.16 million pigs.

In Vietnam, 62 of the 63 major cities or provinces have been affected by the disease. 2.83 million pigs have been culled in Vietnam and it has resulted in an estimated US$115 million in financial loss.

Slave labour trafficking to Malaysia on the rise

What Happened: Police cracked down on illegal labour trafficking between Thailand and Malaysia that resulted in the arrests of 10 people (eight from Myanmar and two from Thailand).

It appears as if the people being trafficked into Malaysia were destined to work as manual labour — usually referred to as ‘migrant workers’.

Migrant workers are the building blocks of many Southeast Asian economies. When done properly, the typically worker makes a few hundred dollars per month.

For people from incredibly poor backgrounds, migrant work can help provide a nest egg for a better life. But critics argue that rich countries are exploiting desperate people (why not pay them more for their work?). Plus, it is very easy for these people to fall into debt traps.

For context, the amount of money these traffickers are making is about US$35.

Some Levity

On Impact

This is a bit long but it falls into the fiction category. In June, 1999 Stephen King got into a car accident and nearly lost his leg. He then decided to write about it for the New Yorker.

You know it is going to be good when Stephen King sits down to write his own personal account of a transformative personal moment.

Long Read

He Helped Indonesia Through a ‘Year of Disasters,’ While Facing His Own

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho was the head of communications for Indonesia’s natural disaster department. His job was to pass along information to journalists and the public during times of intense stress and emotions. If 400 people died in a landslide, it was Nugroho’s job to provide calm, clear and accurate information.

Sadly, he was diagnosed with lung cancer a couple of years back (he did not smoke). After the diagnosis, he dove head first into his work and used it distract himself from the pain.

He died over the weekend, so sharing this article is a way to honour a person who seemed to be a kind, decent man.

One NBA Post

The Clippers Got Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and Changed What’s Possible in the NBA

I am quite enthusiastic about the move of Leonard and George to the Clippers. It sets up a situation next season where 10-12 teams have two superstars but nobody has a clear advantage.

It is also a good reminder that next time we get a team like the Warriors, just enjoy them because it is not going to last longer than 5 years.