I hope this week is starting off well for all of you. This edition is going to include some news about hackers, or “cyber terrorists,” more violence against women in India, and cool news on healthcare and literary fronts. Please note that this edition comes with major trigger warnings about rape and violence against women.
The biggest news regarding China, at least according to the U.S. media, is the repeated cyber attacks against American organizations and access gained to privileged information about prominent public figures, including First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The U.S. government is understandably pissed and is putting pressure on the Chinese government to put a stop to these attacks. However, according to this op-ed piece in Asia Times Online, the new “Cyber War” (it’s cooler than the Cold War, hehe) is more about hype and distortion.
The Obama administration’s cyber-maneuverings have been complicated and, it appears, intensified, by the problem that the United States “did not abide by the rules of statecraft” and “went outside the boundaries” and, indeed, became the “Curtis LeMay of the post Cold War era” when it cooperated with Israel to release the Stuxnet exploit against Iran’s nuclear program.
In other news out of China, the new Cabinet was introduced, completing the transition of leadership in the Chinese government. Among the promises made, the new leadership says they will fight corruption and unravel the horrendous bureaucracy and make government more efficient. Despite their differences, the U.S. and China at least have making impossible promises to their people in common.
India continues to be a dangerous place to be a woman. It’s been reported that a Swiss tourist was gang-raped while she and her husband were camping in the Datia region. The couple were on a cycling tour and headed to Agra, a major tourist destination where the Taj Mahal is located. Six men from a village near where the couple were camping have been arrested. The men beat and tied up the husband before raping the woman and then robbing them. The Swiss government is infuriated and is calling for a swift investigation and conviction. While this is incident is horrifying and should happen to no woman ever, it should be noted that a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, so there are so many stories like this happening to Indian women multiple times a day that never, ever get reported and these women never get justice. In a related story, one of the suspects in the Delhi case that brought violence against women in India to the forefront was found dead in his cell last Monday. Prison officials say the man committed suicide, but his family is protesting that he was murdered.
In better news for women in Asia, Singapore has announced a new initiative to offer 6,000 free mammograms to women age 50 and older over the next two years. The aim is to help low-income women gain access to services and screenings they may not normally get because of cost concerns.
The U.N. has declared the the drone program run by the U.S. military violates Pakistan’s sovereignty. The head of the team investigating casualties from the drone strikes, Ben Emmerson, says that the Pakistani government has not consented to the strikes, despite claims of the opposite made by American diplomats. According to the AP story, the situation is complicated:
For many years, Pakistan allowed U.S. drones to take off from bases within the country. Documents released by WikiLeaks in 2010 showed that senior Pakistani officials consented to the strikes in private to U.S. diplomats, while at the same time condemning them in public. Cooperation has certainly waned since then as the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has deteriorated. In 2011, Pakistan kicked the U.S. out of an air base used by American drones in the country’s southwest, in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
However, at least in public, the Pakistani government is now continuing to strongly protest the use of drones against their citizens.
A Malaysian author has won Asia’s top literary prize. Tan Twan Eng won the Man Asia prize for his novel, The Garden of Evening Mists, about a a young law graduate who discovers the only Japanese garden in Malaya and its secretive owner and creator.
Finally, I discovered an awesome Tumblr that features news stories and pictures from Southeast Asia. Asean 2015 features photos, videos and newsworthy items in the region. Here’s a YouTube video featured on the site from Vietnam of a woman playing traditional music.