#61
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Deepnews Digest #61

All Eyes on Asia

When I learned that the “reinfections” found in South Korea had been false positives, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was like getting a note from the future that things were not going to get that much worse. Global news has never been more important than during coronavirus, and though the amount of foreign bureaus is on the decline, there are still intrepid reporters around the world and local papers digging deeper into stories with global impact. This list, found with the Deepnews Scoring Model, showcases some of them, focusing specifically on the countries of East and Southeast Asia.


Editor’s Note: This Digest was inspired by the responses to a poll that we conducted on Twitter. If you want to interact more with Deepnews, or maybe tell us your own idea for a Digest, make sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
Story Source
The Atlantic
Cities around the world might slowly be coming back to life, but there’s no going back to “normal.”

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Project Syndicate
South Korea experienced one of the world’s largest initial outbreaks of COVID-19 outside China. But, unlike the United States and many European countries, we have been able to contain and drastically reduce the spread of the virus, at least so far — and without imposing a nationwide lockdown. Our response may provide insights that can help other governments and civil society groups working to combat the pandemic.

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The Economist ($)
Causeway Bay is back in business. Even as the world shuts down, the retail heart of Hong Kong, which enforced an early lockdown, is beating again. Yet normality is not complete. The local branch of icbc, a symbol of Beijing’s sway, remains barricaded. Its managers fear that pro-democracy protesters, free after weeks of quarantine, might target it again. This points to a tension within China’s global ambitions. Its political system can suppress problems fast by mobilising everything in the pursuit of one goal. But it also creates crises—and lets them fester.

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The Nation
Citizens say they are ready for a renewed emphasis on making peace with North Korea and creating a greener future less dependent on fossil fuels.

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New York Times
Worshipers at one of Seoul’s largest Catholic churches must refrain from singing hymns or saying “amen” for fear of spreading saliva. Priests sanitize their hands during communion. Holy water has been removed from the chapel. “This should become the new normal from now on,” said Gong Mi-young, 53, who owns a tutoring school and attended Mass one night this week at Myeongdong Church in the South Korean capital. “We have to be ready for war.

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POLITICO
“Trump says reducing death toll to 100,000 people is ‘not bad'” quickly became a top trending hashtag. Commenters on Weibo called the Rose Garden appearance “preparation for a funeral,” labeled Trump a “joker” and a “blowhard,” and sarcastically predicted, “I’m sure God will protect the United States.” If a similar death toll had been reported in China, one popular comment speculated, “how many people here would be saying that [we are] a dying country?” Another noted, bluntly: “[F]rom here onward, the world order will never be the same.”

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Nikkei Asian Review
YANGON — Myanmar’s numerous unresolved ethnic insurgencies have made a cohesive national response to the global COVID-19 pandemic virtually impossible.

Editor’s Note: Responding to coronavirus has been a struggle even for countries with relatively stable political situations and troves of resources. Here the team from Nikkei reports from Yangon on issues including rebel groups, internally displaced people and the conditions in their camps. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Times of India
Vietnam’s achievements in its fight against COVID-19 is highly impressive. As of 30th April, 2020, in Vietnam fatalities from this pandemic stood at zero with only 270 cases. Out of these, 219 have been cured. Indeed, a remarkable success considering what has happened in other countries. Vietnam controlled the spread of the virus through proactive measures, effective prevention and containment strategy, and mass awareness programme.

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VoA News
South Korea is one of very few countries to contain the coronavirus without resorting to mass lockdowns. So how did they do it?

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Asia and the Pacific Policy Society
Decision-makers will need to be well prepared to address the fall-out from the pandemic, Tim George writes.

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New York Times
By some measures, it is winning the race, with four companies already testing their vaccine candidates on humans.

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VoA News
Few images conjure the 1930s Depression like people standing in soup lines while farmers dump food they can’t sell. That is a tragedy Southeast Asia is fighting to avoid, though it is starting to happen in pockets around the world in the midst of COVID-19.

Editor’s Note: This one would be a candidate for our Future of Food Distill newsletter. With food security an issue, countries that aren’t self sufficient need to make sure that supply chains keep on rolling. VoA reports on moves by the ASEAN economic bloc. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

The Diplomat
This conversation with David Arase, resident professor of international politics at the Johns Hopkins University Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies, explores Japan’s recent push to move critical production away from China.

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South China Morning Post
Professor Samuel Yeung-shan Wong says he loves Canada, and wants it to learn from Hong Kong’s successes in the battle with Covid-19.

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Ozy
Dr. Fumiue Harada thought his job was done when he sent a dehydrated 81-year-old patient to the local hospital. Then a colleague called: The patient’s CT scan showed a risk of COVID-19. He needed to be transferred to a specialized hospital immediately.

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New York Times
TAOYUAN, Taiwan — On a balmy Saturday evening inside one of Taiwan’s largest baseball stadiums, the floodlights flickered to life and the players took their positions. Cheerleaders began their rah-rah routines. Organ music blared through the speakers. But as the first batter stepped up to the plate and the pitcher took a deep breath, the only fans inside the 20,000-seat stadium in the northern city of Taoyuan were cardboard cutouts and plastic mannequins.

Editor’s Note: For me, spring normally brings with it the promise of baseball. This year has been different, though one league based in Taiwan has brought me an odd sort of comfort, even with its cardboard fans. Here the NYT reports from a Rakuten Monkeys game. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Business Times (Singapore)
Highly indebted owners continue to hold out even as more homes go under the hammer amid worsening economic conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Nikkei Asian Review
TOKYO — Japan’s major shipbuilders have been maneuvering behind the scenes to win a contract to build the country’s first hospital ship as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to create a shortage of patient beds on land.

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South China Morning Post
Report by Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney questions the need for Australia to decouple from its main trade partner

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Financial Times ($)
My Singaporean mother-in-law was not particularly alarmed by the coronavirus pandemic when the World Health Organization declared a global emergency on January 31.

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CNN
Odd jobs on construction sites used to earn Takahashi enough money to pay for a private booth each night at one of Tokyo’s internet cafes. But Japan’s coronavirus lockdown not only cost him his work, it has temporarily closed the cafe that was his de facto home.

Editor’s Note: Some of us feel the strain of being confined at home, though others are in much worse situations. Here CNN reports the story of a man named Takahashi whose life has changed drastically, and the role of internet cafes in Tokyo. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Foreign Policy ($)
The outbreak in crowded dorms has brought out the city-state’s prejudices.

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Variety
Things got weird on the Chinese Internet in January. With at least 760 million of the nation’s residents — a group more than twice the size of the U.S. population — stuck at home amid coronavirus-imposed restrictions, people got creative and let their freak flag fly on the country’s local version of TikTok.

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Slate
The mystery surrounding the North Korean leader’s health showed just how little we understand what’s really happening in his country.

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Al Jazeera
Denpasar, Indonesia – The Indonesian resort island of Bali, which received half a million international tourists per month until visas on arrival were halted on March 20, is now the site of a medical mystery that has beguiled many: There are no visible signs of a widespread coronavirus pandemic here.

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