Asian Insider Aug 7: Golden Horse Awards, Kashmir, bullying

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

In today’s bulletin: A look at how the BJP government engineered the move to remove Kashmir’s special status, China stops its movie stars from participating in a prestigious event in Taiwan, an update on Hong Kong and more.

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For weeks, the situation in Hong Kong seemed at an impasse. The protesters stood firm on their five demands - among others, that chief executive Carrie Lam step down - and the government was steadfast in granting nothing further than repeated assurance that the controversial extradition bill was dead. Today, a pro-establishment lawmaker who said he has spoken with protesters, offered up one of the first few hints of what a compromise might look like.

A compromise? Lawmaker Michael Tien said he spoke to protesters surrounding the Tsuen Wan police headquarters on Monday and believes that the granting of two requests - a full withdrawal of the bill and the setting up of an independent inquiry - would be enough to take the sting out of the protests. There’s no way to figure out if he is right, but the path forward may need to involved some sort of conversation between the two sides. 

"(The protesters) agreed with me that if the government accedes to these requests, at least half of the supporters (of the protest) at the back would have gotten what they want and disappeared," Mr Tien said.

Latest reports:

Hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers join silent march to demand inquiry into protests

Tear gas fired after mob vandalises HK's Sham Shui Po police station over student leader's arrest

Hong Kong facing biggest crisis since handover, says senior China official


An increase in global warming from 1.5 deg C to 2 deg C above late 19th-century levels would likely result in 30,000 additional heat-related deaths each year in China’s cities, according to a new report in the journal Nature Communications - and that’s assuming improvements in public health services, access to drinking water and availability of air-conditioning. 

The big picture:  News of the report comes a day before a heavily-anticipated report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the scientific community now appears to be building momentum towards another urgent global call. Average global temperatures have risen 1 deg C already and the 2015 Paris climate treaty calls on the world to cap global warming at 2 deg C. 

Context: July may set global record as hottest in recorded history: United Nations


China’s film regulator today announced that is stopping chinese movies and movie stars from participating in Taiwan’s annual Golden Horse Film Festival, an event known as the Oscars of the Chinese-speaking world.  The move comes a week after China announced it would stop issuing individual travel permits for Taiwan to Chinese travellers, though tourists can still join tour groups.

Why? The authorities have not given any reasons for these moves but observers point to two possible factors. The first has to do with the Golden horse event itself, which last year became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence, a sensitive political issue for China. The second is the possibility that China is trying to put pressure on Taiwanese voters to back a more pro-Beijing candidate at next year’s elections. Chinese travellers account for a large chunk of tourists to Taiwan and a squeezing of the tap would hurt the Taiwanese economy. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has made several recent moves that would have likely irked Beijing, including saying that her government would consider granting asylum to Hong Kong protesters.

Further reading

China's ban on visitors to Taiwan a mistake: Tsai


Revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was a powder keg, a drastic, deeply divisive move that would spark protests and division through an often unstable region of India. So when the Modi administration decided to take that drastic step this week, it needed a plan. 

India Correspondent Rohini Mohan took a closer look at what went on as the events unfolded and writes that the plan ultimately consisted of three big moves: shut down Kashmir, shut Kashmiri voices out procedurally and then move to gain control of Kashmir’s police, property, finance and much of its infrastructure.

Read her special report how the BJP pulled it off: How the BJP-led Indian government engineered dramatic move over Kashmir

Read also a report from India Correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta on how Kashmiri’s around India are reacting to the move. One Kashmiri said “Kashmir belongs to its Hindus and Muslims, who are now unfortunately not going to see the fullness of the humanity of the other side”.


The family of Jerusha Sanjeevi is suing Utah State University for inaction after the 24-year-old PhD student of Chinese and Indian descent took her own life.

The details:  The lawsuit alleges that the school knowingly allowed ms Sanjeevi to be verbally abused, intimidated and subjected to cultural and racist discrimination over the course of eight months. Ms Sanjeevi was reportedly singled out by two students in her cohort. She was allegedly mocked, told she smelled like Indian food and that dark skin was a sign of inferiority. She is said to have sought help from at least five faculty members. The university has denied the allegations that it did not act appropriately.

Read the full story: US university sued over Malaysian PhD student's suicide after months of racist abuse

Other developments:

WORK-LIFE IMBALANCE: Singapore is in the bottom quarter of 40 cities when it comes to work-life balance, according to a new study released on Wednesday (Aug 7). It comes in 32nd place, though it is ranked higher than the other three Asian cities considered - Hong Kong, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur. This is in part due to the large amount of time that people here dedicate to their jobs.

MEDIATION TREATY: Forty-six countries signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation on Wednesday (Aug 7) - the day it opened for signatures. The United States and China were among the first signatories of the treaty - also known as the United Nations (UN) Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation - which will provide for the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements across countries.

BOMB IN THAILAND : Thai authorities recovered an unexploded firebomb at a market in central Bangkok on Wednesday (Aug 7) in what they said was a device left over from coordinated attacks last week that wounded four people.

BIG TECH: A Brazilian agency which sets the commercial rules of the advertising market has approved a resolution to classify tech companies like Google and Facebook as media companies, a move which could subject digital platforms to the same rules faced by other media.

That’s it for today.Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.