Asia this week: 19 – 25 August 2021

Summary of key events in Asia over the past week.

MFR Graphic

MFR Graphic

🇦🇫 Afghanistan

Rescue efforts grow desperate

  • Even as tens of thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. and a large number of American and other foreign citizens remain stranded, U.S. President Biden is sticking by his plan to withdraw the remaining military forces from Kabul’s U.S.-controlled airport by August 31.
  • With days remaining until the deadline, thousands of U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans who qualify for special immigration visas are waiting for evacuation.

Bipartisan criticism after congressmen take secret Afghanistan trip

Members from both sides of Congress criticised a Republican senator and a Democratic counterpart on Wednesday for making an undisclosed trip to Afghanistan to observe the U.S. military’s frenzied evacuation efforts, which was seen as more of a publicity stunt that took resources away from the evacuation efforts.

Taliban urges women to stay home

The Taliban's spokesman called it a “temporary” policy intended to protect women until the Taliban could ensure their safety. “We are worried our forces who are new and have not been yet trained very well may mistreat women,” he said.

🇧🇩 Bangladesh

Islamists emboldened by Taliban win in Afghanistan

Fundamentalists in Bangladesh have taken to social media to embrace the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. Experts say Dhaka should be cautious but not overly concerned. 

Brands sign new accord to protect garment workers

The agreement intended to protect workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry was unveiled on 25 August, following months of deadlock between international fashion retailers, trade unions and local factory owners.

Fleeing Rohingya die at sea

A fishing boat carrying more than 40 Rohingya refugees, including children, fleeing Bangladesh’s remote Bhasan Char island capsized on August 14, 2021, in the Bay of Bengal, leaving at least 11 dead, Human Rights Watch said.

🇨🇳 China

China and Russia show common front on Afghanistan

Chinese and Russian leaders discussed Afghanistan, Chinese state media said, but did not echo the G7's call for the Taliban to allow people to flee the country after August 31, as desperate crowds remain left behind and in fear of their safety while withdrawal of U.S. troops continue.

Meishan terminal reopens

The Meishan terminal at China’s second-busiest, and the world's third-busiest, port reopened following a two-week shutdown.

Twin radar satellites launched for 3D mapping

China conducted its 29th orbital launch to boost the country’s remote sensing and satellite mapping capabilities.

🇮🇳 India

Woman who accused MP of rape dies in self-immolation

The death of a 24-year-old Indian woman, who had set herself on fire last week after alleging harassment by police and judiciary at the behest of an MP she had accused of rape, once again puts the spotlight on the shameful treatment of women in India.

Taliban surge spreads fear in Delhi’s ‘Little Kabul’

For many refugees who fled to India decades ago, the Taliban’s ascent in Afghanistan has dashed hopes of them ever being able to return home

🇲🇾 Malaysia

Ismail Sabri Yaakob sworn in as new PM

Ismail Sabri Yaakob was sworn in as the country’s ninth prime minister on Saturday, after a week of political turmoil that forced his predecessor to resign amid a continuing health emergency because of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

🇸🇬 Singapore

Copenhagen overtakes Singapore and Tokyo as safest city

Copenhagen has been named the world’s safest city in a new wide-reaching study from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The Danish capital surpassed former frontrunners like Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka in the fourth edition of the EIU’s biennial Safe Cities Index.

Singapore, US pledge deeper collaboration in cybersecurity

Both countries signed memorandums of understanding to deepen their collaboration in cybersecurity across several areas, including defence, financial, and research and development.

🇱🇰 Sri Lanka

Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera dies

Mangala Samaraweera, a former Foreign Minister, and advocate of liberalism from the country’s dominant Sinhala-Buddhist polity, passed away at a private hospital in Colombo after treatment for COVID-19-related complications. He was 65.

Amid COVID surge, Sri Lankans opt for cardboard coffins

A factory in Sri Lanka's Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia city assembles long cardboard boxes, which will be used as coffins for some of the country's coronavirus victims.

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