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Stories from and

Mapping Vietnam's Socio-Economic Indicators

vietnam_world_bankThe World Bank has launched mapVIETNAM, an interactive map that shows various socio-economic indicators in Vietnam such as poverty rates, employment, and electricity connectivity. The photo above shows the number of households living on $2 dollars a day. Using the map, we can see that poverty rates are high in the northern and central parts of the country.

Open Letter Asks UN Human Rights Council to Probe Abuses in Vietnam

An open letter signed by 27 groups and 163 individuals is asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe the human rights abuses committed by the Vietnamese government. The signatories are also demanding the removal of Vietnam's membership in the UN human rights body.

We urge member states to vote against Vietnam based on its continuing rampant human rights violations. It is time for the Vietnamese government to learn that it can no longer escape accountability.

Some of the violations allegedly perpetrated by the government include the persecution of bloggers, censorship, religious oppression, wrongful convictions, abuse of political prisoners, and harassment of activists.

Worst Drought In A Decade Hits Taiwan

8 municipalities in Taiwan started second stage water restrictions (orange) since Feb 26. CC BY-NC 2.0.

8 municipalities in Taiwan started second stage water restrictions (area in orange).

As a subtropical/tropical island, Taiwan usually covers with wetness and green. However, last year, there were only two typhoons, the island is now facing the worst drought in a decade.

Independent reporter Chu Shu Chuan reported that the storage of 12 major reservoirs is reduced to less than 50%, according to the Waer Resources Agency on its February 8 press release. 8 municipalities in Taiwan have started second stage water restrictions since Feb 26.

Chu's follow-up report highlighted that the storage of one of the major reservoir, the Shinmen Reservoir has dropped to 27% and the water supply of its major industrial users will be reduced by 7.5% from March 13.

If the drought cannot be eased when rains come in spring, the industrial parks in Taiwan may face the shortage of water that cannot be simply solved by adjusting the manufacturing schedules.

The Translation Detail Everyone Missed in the China Internet’s Incredibly Surreal Anthem

Below is an edited version of “The Translation Detail Everyone Missed in the China Internet's Incredibly Surreal Anthem“ by Jason Li, originally published on the blog 88 Bar and republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.

In case you missed it, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Guardian and the Atlantic all wrote about this incredibly surreal but voted best of event anthem celebrating China’s glorious Internet. Thanks to ProPublica, we have a subtitled YouTube video above.

As James Fallows at the Atlantic pointed out, one of the most stirring phrases in the song that is repeated eight times during the chorus is 网络强国. The New York Times and ProPublica both translated this as “Internet power,” while Fallows points out that:

English speakers might think of “Internet power” as comparable to “soft power” or “girl power” or “people power.” But to my amateur eye there is a more explicit connotation of China’s becoming a national power in cyberspace. I’m sure Chinese speakers will tell me if I’m wrong to read 强国 as meaning a powerful country, as in “rise and fall of the great powers” etc. Thus the refrain would emphasize “a powerful Internet country.” The impression I got from this was of a strongly nationalistic message about a supposedly borderless medium.

I wanted to add to the translation and confirm Fallows’ viewpoint by examining one of the lines from the chorus:

网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华

Both the New York Times (Paul Mozur) and ProPublica (Sisi Wei and Yue Qiu) translate this to some variant of: “An Internet power: Tell the world that the Chinese Dream is uplifting China.” (Emphasis mine.)

Actually, the line in Chinese does not end with the phrase “China” (中国) but “the greater Chinese” (大中华). Not only does “the greater Chinese” sometimes mean Greater China, but it also hints at overseas Chinese people (华人 or 华侨) and, as Fallows put it, the “borderless” greater Chinese culture/civilization.

Malaysia Launches New Logo as Chair of ASEAN 2015

Malaysia is the new chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the year 2015. This year is crucial for ASEAN as the region takes steps to achieve full integration as a united community. The new logo represents “harmony, close partnership and aspiration of the people from the ten ASEAN countries aimed at achieving the shared vision” of the community.

asean logo

In China, Online Game Has To Comply With Laws in Real Life

Ministry of Culture's Online Game Content Censorship Workflow. Via China Digital Times.

Ministry of Culture's Online Game Content Censorship Workflow. Via China Digital Times.

An online game designer, Xu Youzhen revealed in his Weibo that the Chinese authorities require that childbearing in his company's video games comply with family planning. The guideline was issued by Internet Culture Office, Bureau of Culture Markets in their powerpoint explanation of “Ministry of Culture's Online Game Content Censorship Workflow” in 2010.

In addition to family planning law, the guideline also instructs game designer not to include content that violates animal protection laws and marriage laws.

China Digital Times picks up the story and translates some netizens’ reaction to the guideline.

Cleaning Up the Coastal Areas of Singapore

Volunteers during a cleanup event. Flickr photo by NUS Toddycats & ICCS (CC License)

Volunteers during a cleanup event. Flickr photo by NUS Toddycats & ICCS (CC License)

Since 1992, the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore has been organizing activities to remove garbage from the beaches and mangroves of Singapore. Every year, about 1,500 volunteers are joining the cleanup events that are able to collect 60,000 pieces of litter.

Clean up locations around Singapore

Clean up locations around Singapore

More than 200 Academics Sign Statement Supporting Anti-Junta Professor in Thailand

Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Photo from Prachatai website.

Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Photo from Prachatai website.

More than 200 academics from all over the world have signed a statement expressing support to historian and college professor Dr Somsak Jeamteerasakul who was recently fired by Thammasat University. The Thai scholar, who has been teaching for two decades, is critical of the junta government which grabbed power last May 2014.

The statement urged Thammasat University and other higher education institutions to uphold academic freedom and free speech:

To think differently is not a crime. If one cannot do so within the walls of the university, spaces of learning and the pursuit of truth, then the space to do so outside those walls will dwindle as well.

Documenting the Struggles of Papuans in Indonesia

Papuan Voices is a video advocacy initiative that highlights the struggles of the people of West Papua, a province of Indonesia. West Papua has been struggling to be an independent state although this conflict from Indonesia is not widely reported in the media.

papuan_voices

VIDEO: How Palm Oil is Causing Environmental Destruction in Indonesia

The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

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