While Western states are evacuating civilians from Lebanon, Asian domestic workers are, as usual, trapped. Ellen Tordesillas says 34,000 Filipino’s are in the country.:
It’s ironic that the Filipinos in Lebanon, who now are scampering for safety amidst the Israeli bombing of Hezbollah places in the war-torn country, went there because they were escaping poverty in the Philippines.
The Department of Foreign Affairs places the number of Filipinos in Lebanon at 34,000. Majority, some 25,000, are domestic helpers while the rest are employees in hotels, UN organizations or married to Lebanese nationals.
Other countries, mainly the Americans,Australians, and Europeans are evacuating their nationals. Yet Philippine officials are still talking of moving Filipinos to “pre-designated safe areas.” It’s pathetic.
At Sepia Mutiny, it is noted that 93,000 Sri Lankans, including 86,000 domestic workers, are similarly stranded.:
… the case that stands out is Sri Lanka, with an estimated 93,000 nationals in Lebanon of whom 86,000 are women employed as domestic labor.
According to a recent article in Middle East Report, Sri Lankan domestic workers have become ubiquitous in Lebanon. You won’t be surprised to learn that the employment process is shady and the workers often mistreated.
Given the number of people involved, the conditions on the ground, the fact that many workers don’t have papers, and the expected resistance of employers to allow their domestics to leave, it’s likely that more than a few young Sri Lankan women will become “collateral damage” of the Israel-Hezbollah war.
The terrorists have won, so says Anna at Sepia Mutiny.
In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Indian government issued a directive to internet service providers to start blocking sites hosted by Google’s Blogger service, TypePad and Geocities. The alleged reason for the block: terrorists have been using the internet to communicate.
We shudder at the thought that India’s intelligence services will eventually discover that terrorists also use telephones, national postal services and pencils.
UltraBrown offers the following comment:
As the world’s back office, for India to blame overzealous techies would hardly be credible. It’s not yet clear which blogs the government was targeting, but banning all of Blogspot is nothing less than outright repression — mimicking the tactics Pakistan used to shut down discussion of Danish cartoons critical of Islam. India is now in the august company of some of the world’s least free nations
Amit Varma, who just penned a piece for the Guardian on how collaborative blogs such as Mumbai Help can be put to use in a crisis ponders: ” Won’t it be ironic if, after all that Mumbai Help attempted to do last week, residents of Mumbai aren’t even able to access it?”
While India is following the route of authoritarian China in blocking blog hosting services, curiously neither country has banned . Although concerns abound about online sexual predators using the service, we must assume the youth-oriented service is free from terrorists, pro-democracy dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners.
If you are late for work in Mumbai and reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, don’t despair. You can run up to the packed compartments and find many hands unfolding like petals to pull you on board. And while you will probably have to hang on to the door frame with your fingertips, you are still grateful for the empathy of your fellow passengers, already packed tighter than cattle, their shirts drenched with sweat in the badly ventilated compartment. They know that your boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train. And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Brahmin or an Untouchable. Come on board, they say. We’ll adjust.
(Quote from Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City, (via Indian Writing) Photo via , .)
While there have been several reverences to the parallels between Superman and Jesus in the new Bryan Singer film, AsiaPundit was unaware of previously existing claims that the hero is based on the Hindu deity Hanuman.
Manish points to this passage in .:
So what do you think is India’s connection to probably the most popular super-hero the world has ever seen? Word is that, that the original creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel were inspired from none other than the Indian mythological hero Hanuman and that is how Superman got his flying powers. But that is not all; India too has had her share of the ‘Man of Steel’.
The taken from the 1978 Indian Superman film, a clip of which is available here (tedious, but with a great ’special effect’ near the end).
A Reader’s Digest survey conducted in 35 various cities across the globe analysed and tested the politeness and helpfulness of people in each urban centre. More than 2000 separate tests of behaviour were conducted to try and find the world’s most courteous place….
Researchers awarded the cities points for various tests such as holding doors open for other people, assisting in picking up dropped documents and whether shop assistants said “Thank you” to customers after they paid…
Asian cities featured highly on the survey’s least courteous list. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Seoul were all ranked in the bottom ten. Other unhelpful cities included Sydney, Moscow, Milan and Amsterdam.
The bottom of the list is a who’s-who of great Asian cities including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai. No mainland China or Japanese cities are mentioned in the list.
AsiaPundit is actually shocked by this, in no small part because New York captured the number one position as the most courteous. The Big Apple is a favorite city, but it does not have a reputation for politeness.
AP’s immediate reaction is to disregard the survey as a vacuous marketing gimmick, but he will briefly entertain the possibility that it is an accurate measure.
This article suggests there has been a change in NY since 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani’s politeness bylaws — noting a $50 fine for putting feet on subway seats. It the latter is the case, Singapore’s government should ask why its creation of a Fine City and it’s 37-year long courtesy campaign have been such a failure.
(Image of Singapore’s Courtesy Lion, ubiquitous in the City State, stolen from the Singapore Kindness Movement website.)
Meet the esteemed judges of the 2006-2007 Asia Blog Awards:
• Anna of HERstory, the 2004 ABA winner of Best Indian Blog.
• Connie Veneracion, Sassy Lawyer and queen of Philippine blog royalty.
• Fred of Extra Extra, former winner of best Sri Lanka blog and now a resident of Kinshasa, Democratic Rep of Congo.
• Graham Holliday of top Vietnam food blog Noodlepie.
• Previous Indonesia ABA winner and inteernational man of mystery Jakartass.
• Japundit founder of the eponymous Japundit.
• Malaysian alpha-blogger and Freedom Blog Award winner Jeff Ooi.
• Jeff Laitila, founder of of ABA-winning Japanese group photo blog Sushicam.
• Lee Chapman of the Tokyo Times.
• Malaysia’s multi-talented Kenny Sia.
• Patrix, founder of Desipundit.
• Phil of Flagrant Harbour, founder of the first Asia Blog Awards.
• Rezwan, author of the 3rd World View, Global Voices contributor and founder of Bangladesh blog list.
• Richard of The Peking Duck.
• Robert Koehler, the man behind essential South Korean site the Marmot’s Hole.
• Roland Soong of the essential Greater China site East South West North.
• Ron Morris of ABA winning 2Bangkok.com.
• Simon of Simon World, previous host of 2004 Awards and nominee for several international accolades.
• Scott Sommers, 2004 ABA winner for Scott Sommers’ Taiwan Weblog.
• Spike of Hongkie Town.
• Tengku Mohd Ali Bustaman, better known as Pok Ku, of Malaysian ABA winner Di Bawah Rang Ikang Kering
Finally, AsiaPundit will also be participating as a judge.
This is a preliminary listing and admittedly heavy on East and Northeast Asia. Other regional judges have been invited and more additions are expected.
Now is the time at AsiaPundit when we dance.:
In this youtube, a band identified as the “Indian Beatles” performs a totally rockin’ version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” in Hindi. I’m pretty sure I have this song as an MP3 somewhere, but with the video added in, it’s a hundred times more awesome.
Commenters on the YouTube page add more details. The song is “Tumse Hai Dil Ko” from the film “Jaanwar” — and this: “The camera work is exceptional, the singing great, and the fact that this was just 1 year after the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show makes this work of adaptive plagiarism all the more impressive.”
AsiaPundit is pleased to announce the commencement of the new round of Asia Blog Awards. The awards are based on the Japanese financial year, which ends on March 31, and nominations are now open for the April 1-June 30 period, full-year awards are to be based on the quarterly contests.
Details are below, nominations for the below categories can be made on the individual pages linked below until the end of June 16 (Samoan time).
Awards are at present limited to English-language or dual-language sites.
Region/Country Specific Blogs:
Non-region specific awards:
Some categories may be deleted or combined if they lack a full slate nominations - and some may be added should it be warranted.
Winners will be judged in equal parts on: (a) votes, (b) technorati ranking and (c) judges’ selection.
While judges will naturally have biases, they will hopefully offset imbalances in other areas (such as inevitable cheating in the voting and inflationary blogroll alliances in the Technorati ranks).
The names or sites of the judges will be public.
Judges will be ineligible for nomination. As the awards largely intend on providing exposure to lesser-known sites of merit, we are hopeful that authors of ‘A-list’ sites that tend to dominate such contests will disqualify themselves by being judges.
The contest has been endorsed by previous ABA host Simon who is also serving as a judge (thereby disqualifying Simon World).
Traffic — the most telling and accurate measure of a site’s populatity — may be a consideration in future awards. However, at present, there is no clear or universal way to accurately measure and contrast traffic (sites such as Sitemeter, Statcounter offer results that cannot be compared, while services such as Alexa.com do not work for sites that are not hosted on independent domains).
This is all imperfect and will be tweaked in future events (with transparency, of course).
Most importantly, this is intended to be fun.
Singapore foodie Chubby Hubby is seeking nominations from Asian bloggers for the best Asia-Pacific restaurants.:
I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about Restaurant magazine’s survey of the world’s fifty best restaurants and how few restaurants from Asia, Australia and the Pacific islands were represented in it. So, in a bold (and perhaps hubristic) move, I’ve decided to try and build a comprehensive listing of Asia-Pacific’s best restaurants.
This list, however, depends entirely on you, fellow bloggers, readers and friends. And in such, anyone and everyone is welcome to take part in this. I’ll make this caveat right away: any survey is only as good as the people who take part in it. And it’s only really credible if a lot of people take part. Also, no survey is perfect. Nor can it be truly definitive or objective. Zagat isn’t. Nor is Michelin. Both simply represent a statistical summation of what a percentage of the population feels (for the former, a wide range of people, for the latter a small group of anonymous “experts”). So too will this survey be a summation of what you guys tell me. That said, let’s try and put together one damn fine list!
AsiaPundit did not write further on the embarassment at the White House, and recommends Roland for an excellent summary of the negative reactions the percieved ill treatment of Hu Jintao provoked in China.
It is worth noting, however, that the following photo of a seemingly napping Dick Cheney did not provoke much outrage.:
Vice President Dick Cheney says he was looking at his notes, not sleeping, during a briefing by President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao in Hu’s first Oval Office visit.
(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)
Why the outrage over Bush grabbing Hu’s arm but not the sleeping Dick? We can only speculate. However, as someone who has visited the Great Hall during a National People’s Congress session, AsiaPundit will attest that it is perfectly normal to nod off during the speeches of CPC leaders.
Elsewhere, Manish at Sepia Mutiny contrasts the treatment Hu received during his China trip and that received by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his state visit.:
|Got a state lunch||Got a state dinner. Stayed for chai.|
|Says Iran isn’t a threat||Joined U.S. in censuring Iran|
|Sold Iran nuke tech||Will buy nuke tech from the U.S.|
|Falun Gong heckler||One-Track Uncle|
|Criticized by Dubya for human rights||Praised by Dubya for democracy|
|Mistakenly called by the official title of Taiwan||Dubya finally stopped mixing it up with Indiana|
|Bill Gates bought leader dinner||Bill Gates gave country two billion dollars|
|Left with vague promises||Left with nuclear energy deal|
Cigarettes don’t kill people. Terrorists kill people.
A Kashmiri man was recently injured by an explosive cigarette either distributed by militants or airdropped by Acme Corporation. While I feel terrible for the guy who was hurt, the moral here is, don’t pick up stuff by the side of the road and, like, smoke it.
Thakkar landed in hospital after he lit one of the two cigarettes he found lying in a field in Mislai village of Doda district…
… terrorists are probably experimenting with the low-cost idea of filling cigarettes with explosives, leaving them in public places to tempt smokers to pick these and light up. [Link]
“Militants are now using explosive-filled cigarettes to carry out blasts in Jammu and Kashmir. One such cigarette has been recovered last night,” Col Badola said. [Link]
While much attention is given to peasant protest in China, with reports generally musing about a threat to the central government, mob violence in India does not get as much coverage. Perhaps that’s because the causes of it are often far more mundane. AsiaPundit can understand resorting to violence when property is seized, but this is incomprehensible.
Via India Uncut:
First, some idiots in Bangalore start rioting because a film-star they like is dead. Immense destruction of property takes place, a policeman is beaten to death, others also die in the violence. A psychiatrist gives soundbytes about this is “a deviant way of expressing love and affection” and “a kind of competitive destruction.”(This link via Richa.)
More at Dateline Bombay:
Yet, its the same city where thousands of youth, among others have taken to the streets following actor Raj Kumar’s demise. Pictures of mob violence are streaming in. The contrast between the engineers working in glass towers on cutting edge technology projects and the mayhem on the streets couldn’t be starker. At last count, four people including a policeman were dead. The policeman was killed by mob.
The 77-year-old Rajkumar gave up acting almost a decade ago. Its tough to believe that the youth pelting stones at policemen across the city today watched too many of his films, if any. None of the television images showed them to be grieving. Instead their faces showed the thrill one usually associates with the satisfaction of inflicting damage on the establishment. Many were performing for the cameras,leaping with joy.
Major IT companies including Microsoft, Infosys and Wipro have shut down their offices. Not really out of choice, considering that the option would be to see their beautiful campuses wrecked or the glass facades shattered. That happened anyway. The government is leading with a two-day state holiday that began yesterday.
According to the Mercer 2006 study on quality of living for expatriates, AsiaPundit’s current home is the most livable city in China Mainland China. Although it falls far behind his former home of Singapore.:
Singapore overtakes Tokyo as the top Asian city, moving into 34th position. Despite Singapore’s gain, Japan remains the strongest Asian country with the next eight Asian cities based there. Hong Kong (68th) breaks that run, and China’s top city is Shanghai (103rd), falling one place. In India, the top cities are Mumbai and New Delhi (both 150th). Indian city rankings are improving slowly due to India’s improving political relationships with other countries. Also, local authorities in India are feeling pressure from multinationals who want to locate there to improve quality of living standards.
The survey ranks standards of living based on measures including personal safety and security, health issues, cleanliness and pollution, and transportation - all areas that AP will admit are much better in the Lion City.
For that matter, Singapore should beat most (if not all) of the cities in the top-10 were those the only measures (easily trumping number three Vancouver on cleanliness, transportation and security).
That said, Shanghai’s skyline easily trumps Singapore’s.:
The city claims the third best skyline in the world, while Singapore comes in sixth. However, Shanghai once again is rightfully beaten by Hong Kong.
Nepal’s authoritarian monarch, King Gyanendra, looks to be either on the verge of either being deposed or instigating a more brutal crackdown. After six days of riots, police have started firing on protesters.
Curzon sees things ending badly.:
Almost a year ago, I predicted that without serious aid from India and the West, the regime in Nepal would eventually collapse, giving way to a Maoist horror equivalent to what we’ve previously seen in Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. As I write this, demonstrations are taking over the streets of Kathmandu in Nepal. When you see pictures of police beating protestors and unhinged state violence, it’s easy for naive idealists to fret about the “pro-democracy protests,” get outraged over such tactics as the police shutting down cell phone service, and even take the pro-Maoist “Democratic Nepal” blog a little seriously.
Maybe these people genuinely believe that a collapse of the monarchy will lead to a democratic regime. But consiously or not, many of these people more accurately believe something closer to what Mark Safranski deconstructed and plainly translated in a comment last year:
“I want the Maoists to win but don’t really want to say that openly because that position doesn’t have much intellectual credibility – and it will hamper my disclaiming moral responsibility for Maoist atrocities in Nepal after the fact, should they win.”
Look at the flags many of these demonstrators are waving in the streets, it’s not the flag of liberty.
While Gyanendra is running, as Curzon describes, “probably the most unhelpful, reactionary regime that one could imagine,” it would be ludicrous to imagine anything better from the Nepalese Maoists. Long disowned by the capitalist rulers of ‘communist’ China, the Maoists are more similar in nature to Sendero Luminoso or the Khmer Rouge, the former being a major influence on the Nepalese Maoists in terms of both tactics and ideology.
It may be good to see Gyanendra gone but what comes next is be a big concern. AsiaPundit would consider intervention by New Delhi, Beijing or both far more welcome than a Maoist regime.
Sepia Mutiny has other views and an interesting comment thread.
Amit Varma helpfully points to the Bribe Rates for Delhi blog, which records the fees that are not generally recorded in official statistics. The following extract is on getting a drivers license:
Go to the main entry of authority ( A small passage between building and parking.) You can see many agents (or say dalal), you can contact to any cameraman, shopkeeper or roadvendor. I got one (cameraman introduced him with me). I started talking with him, he said sit down don’t talk like this now a days position are strict. We fix up the deal in Rs.490. Then he introduced me to his boss. He asked Rs.600, I said no I was told Rs.490 only. He agreed on that. He took my papers and hand over those to his guy to get the entry in official books, and told me to bring my car for test.
Without taking test I got certificate of test passed. And after some more formalities My permanent license was in my hand.So anybody even who don’t know the driving can get the license get the license at a small official fees and commission of Rs.500…Great irony of government.
(Photo stolen from Tourism Delhi, who probably don’t appreciate the link on a post dealing with bribery)
Tyler Cowen posts links to a series of manipulated maps. Included is a surprise - India and China are getting thinner.:
Here is a population-weighted map of the world, circa 1500:
Here is the projected world population map, circa 2050:
Here are other neat maps. Here are maps of tourism, emigration, and refugees; Here is my favorite, a map of the flow of net immigration. Or try this map of aircraft departures, watch Africa disappear. Here is the strange geography of fruit exports. Here is how to make South America look really big, or reallly small (can you guess?).
Now is the time at AsiaPundit when we dance.:
I’ve wanted to bring you examples of Xinjiang’s pop culture for some time, but never got around to setting it up. That’s all in the past, though, now that I’m signed up for Google Video. So… ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let me introduce to you the group that’s been bringing down the house in Uyghur discos all over Xinjiang, all the way from Uzbekistan, the beautiful girls of [Insert Band Name Here].
The Development Bank Research Bulletin compares the 2006 economic forecasts on India and China by the three major investment banks that cover both countries.
Deutsche Bank always has no preference!
Deutsche Bank forecasts that China’s GDP will grow at 9% in year 2006, while India will grow at 6.9%. This creates a 2.1% growth gap. Both numbers are almost the same as the consensus in the industry. This is not the first time; I have to mention that last year DB did the same thing. DB always agrees with the consensus view!
Citigroup loves Indian foods!
Citigroup however thinks the gap should be smaller. Citi predicts that China will grow at 8.7%, while India at 8.1%, which produces a merely 0.6% gap compared to DB’s 2.1%. I have to mention that Citi’s 8.1% forecast of India GDP growth in year 2006 is the highest among all major forecasters. Their forecast of 7.5% for last year was also the highest. Citi does love Indian foods!
Morgan Stanley does not like Asian foods!
Interestingly, Morgan Stanly is very pessimistic about both India and China. Morgan Stanley thinks China will grow at only 7.8% while India at 6.6%. Among all major forecasters who have released numbers for China and India, Morgan Stanley’s forecast is the lowest. Last year MS also was the most pessimistic about the two countries, and missed the target by wide margin. They must have some private information and hard evidence backing their persistent opinion. I will try to find it out and share with readers in the next weeks.
Via the Acorn, a look at the way the Subcontinent’s nationalist sentiments play out in real time.:
Officially it was to save daylight. But the standardisation of time is just another way in which the countries of the subcontinent seek to assert their distinct national identities. Start with India, which in a style befitting the character of its polity, centralises its reference meridien by splitting the differences, ending up five and a half-hours ahead of UTC. That makes it inconvenient for many people, not least the makers and users of traditional world-time clocks and watches: Karachi and Dhaka are marked out as they are conveniently a whole number of hours ahead of UTC. That’s changing now with the proliferation of palmtop computers and mobile phones that can put up with Indian idiosyncracies much better.
Given its position almost bisecting India’s east-west expanse, it was natural for Sri Lanka and India to adopt the same standard time. But in 1986, Sri Lanka decided to move the clock forward one hour ahead and then, on second thoughts, back half-an-hour to, well, save daylight. But the Tamil Tigers cried foul, and refused to tweak their watches. The politics of standard time kicked in, as the difference no doubt helped set their own ‘nation’ apart. The Sri Lankan government finally gave in and has decided to set the clock back again, to five and half-hours ahead of UTC. Astrologers, airlines and Microsoft Windows users are among those who need to make necessary adjustments.
But it is Nepal that wins the prize for asserting a distinct national identity. It is five hours and forty-five minutes ahead of UTC, or 15 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time.
Jeff in Korea is hosting a hilarious US-produced video explaining why Asian women dig white guys:
And Chinese viewers should appreciate how Indian guys have it worse.
Two of the most ubiquitous and derided devices in much of developing Asia are the cell phone and the moped. The former due to a lack of etiquette and the latter because they tend to be driven on pedestrian thoroughfares. While AsiaPundit will be forever annoyed by people who stare at their phones instead of answering them, and at the scooters that always honk at him on the sidewalks of Shanghai, he will agree with Neelakantan that the two have empowered millions of new entrepreneurs.:
The moped is a much derided vehicle, at least on Indian roads. It is slow on the highways, a pain in traffic because it runs circles around other vehicles far more than a bike or a scooter and an irritation when it breaks down at signals. Some of these contraptions also have a pedal option, which is used by its owners to get out a signal at 3 km/h, when their contraption fails to start. But, it also has a role to play in our economy. Down South, where TVS motor rules the roost, the moped is popular. It is not popular with college students (guys prefer bikes, girls prefer variomatics), but it popular with another segment. The milk delivery man, postmen, the newspaper delivery men, even the scrap traders (as pictured above) who I call micro entrepreneurs. These were the guys who used a bicycle once upon a time and have now upgraded to mopeds.
Mopeds are dirt cheap and give amazing value for money for a litre of petrol. (A 100 cc bike gives upwards of 80 km to a litre, these 50 and 70 something cc vehicles can give much more. It is not uncommon some of these things being filled with petrol for 25 rupees (half a litre) or less. I have seen a moped being filled for 10 rupees. These things are not fast, but they are rugged and remove the dependence on public transport for their owners. The moped is as functional a vehicle as it can get, since their owners really dont care for how a moped looks.
Following up the popular DIY subtitles for Japanese commercials, here’s DIY Bollywood subtitles.:
Via Far Outliers, Fareed Zakaria hosts a discussion between two economists on the different paths China and India have taken in growing their economies. There’s not much new analysis in this for people who follow such things, but the ideas are presented clearly and are a good starting point.
Yasheng Huang: Yeah; essentially the Chinese economic miracle is a result of Chinese labor being cheap and very productive rather than the result of the capital accumulated by the Chinese capitalists and–and this is one of the principal reasons why even with eight or nine percentage growth rate every year we do not see the emergence of the world-class Chinese companies coming out of that economy.
Fareed Zakaria: Now what–why is that–because most people would say if you go to China you certainly see this. There’s a very strong entrepreneurial spirit in China, that certainly–
Yasheng Huang: That’s right; yeah.
Fareed Zakaria: You know to the extent that genetics or culture matter, they seem to be fine. I mean you look at Southeast Asia it’s all Chinese entrepreneurs.
Yasheng Huang: Yeah, absolutely; the Chinese entrepreneurs do very well outside of China. China–Chinese have this animal spirit, the business acumen capabilities and let me add a substantial engineering and scientific capability. The main issue is not a lack of these capabilities or entrepreneurial drives; the main reason is the lack of a financial system supportive of these entrepreneurial initiatives and growth. So you can get Chinese company up and running to a certain level; after that they stop growing because you need outside financing; you need outside capital; they can’t get bank loans; they can’t get listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange or Shin Jin Stock Exchange and from that perspective Indian firms have done much better because they have access to financing; they have access to legal protection in a way that the Chinese entrepreneurs so far have lacked.
China has shown a sharp downward trend in press freedoms last year, while the Philippines remains dangerous and North Korea abysmal.:
While some countries in Asia have remained stable with regard to media freedom, there have been sharp downward trends in several Asian countries, particularly China, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Freedom House, a non-governmental organization that monitors press freedoms around the world, assessed the levels of press freedom in countries based on the prevailing legal environment, political and economic situation and the overall attitudes of authorities towards the media.
The surveys were generally concordant in their results, with China, Nepal, North Korea and the Philippines remaining the biggest causes of concern for journalists in Asia.
"Compared to last year, there really aren’t many positives in Asia," said Karin Karlekar, Managing Editor of the Freedom House survey. "While some countries have remained steady [Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong], we can see downward trends in many countries in the region."
North Korea was found to be the worst country in all surveys, showing no signs of improvement over the past couple of years. All media in North Korea continue to remain tools of Kim Jong-il’s state, while all foreign media are repeatedly portrayed by the regime as "liars" seeking to destabilize the government, according to the Freedom House report. However, the report also suggests that an increase in international trade has resulted in greater contact with foreigners, which might allow for greater access to international news reports in the near future.
China has also shown a sharp downward trend in 2005, said Karlekar, which can be attributed to increased censorship of newspapers and radio stations, and greater Internet surveillance.
According to RSF, the so-called "broadcasting Great Wall" in China has been growing over the past year: The Voice of Tibet, the BBC and Radio Free Asia are among the radio stations jammed by the government in 2005.
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