In Focus



Unmasking China’s Maritime Militia
China has long denied that it uses maritime militia forces to assert its maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea, often describing the Chinese vessels clustered around disputed reefs and islets as just fishing boats.

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Thousands of ‘Terrorism Suspects’ on ‘Shanghai List’ Include Uyghur Children, Elderly
More than three quarters of the names on a recently leaked Chinese government list of some 10,000 “suspected terrorists” are ethnic Uyghurs, while the document includes hundreds of minors and the elderly, providing rare insight into how Beijing characterizes threats it has used to lock up more than a million people.

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Hun Sen ally buys London ‘private bank’ with shady ties
One of Cambodia’s wealthiest families with close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen late last year acquired a British payment services provider, Connectum Limited. That company generates millions of dollars in revenue each year, serving as an intermediary between small businesses and major credit card firms like Visa and MasterCard.

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Information suppression in Myanmar
Just before the coup, armed soldiers raid the data centers of internet providers and sever the wires for the internet, multiple news outlets report..

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How China is Leveraging Foreign Technology to Dominate the South China Sea
Cutting edge technology from the United States and other foreign countries is helping China assert its sweeping maritime and territorial claims in the contested South China Sea, a Radio Free Asia investigation has found.

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Tibetan Election 2021
Thousands of Tibetans around the world will vote April 11 to choose a new Sikyong and parliament in exile for the Central Tibetan Administration.

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A Dangerous Dance - Chinese, Vietnamese Ships Stalk Each Other off Paracel Islands in South China Sea
It was the kind of standoff at sea that would usually slip under the radar: obscure vessels of rival nations vying for position in disputed waters, far from public view.

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Aussie Government ‘Pathetic’ On Cambodian Dirty Money, Lawmaker Tells RFA
A new investigation by RFA out this week explores the multi-million dollar investments made in Australia by Cambodia’s ruling elite over the last five years. These investments appear to have been made in tandem with a campaign of intimidation orchestrated by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) against Australia’s Cambodian community..

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Power Grab in Myanmar
A Feb. 1 coup by Myanmar's powerful military puts an end to a halting experiment in political liberalization and sparks widespread street protests in a land that recently emerged from 50 years of army rule.

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Cambodian elite park millions in Australia
A pair of dodgy investment schemes link an Australian businessman to the upper echelons of the Cambodian People’s Party.

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Free Journalists Behind Bar
Imprisoned RFA Vietnamese contributors (L-R) Nguyen Van Hoa, a videographer who was sentenced in November 2017 to seven years; Truong Duy Nhat, a blogger who was sentenced in March 2020 to 10 years; and blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy, who was jailed for 11 years on Jan. 5, 2021.

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A Letter from the North
North Korean defector Kim Eun-Hee (a pseudonym to address safety concerns) who currently lives in Seoul, still vividly remembers this day in the spring of 2002 when she left her mother for the first and last time.

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A Rebel Without a Pause in 2020
From bitter international disputes about China’s handling of the coronavirus to Laos’ destructive damming of the Mekong River; from kleptocracy and deforestation in Cambodia to the autocratic siblings who rule North Korea; and from China's throttling of Hong Kong's promised freedoms to Uyghur internment camps in Xinjiang, RFA cartoonist Wang Liming, who works under the pen name of Rebel Pepper, bore sharp-eyed witness to 2020.

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Diplomatic Tightrope: 70 Years of U.S. Policy on the South China Sea
The statement was dramatic, like a diplomatic line drawn in the sand. On July 13, the United States declared most of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to be “completely unlawful,” and its pressure on Southeast Asian nations a “campaign of bullying.”

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Troubled Waters: The South China Sea
Asia's destiny could depend on the South China Sea. Its busy sea lanes are crucial for international trade. Its waters and coral reefs support fish stocks that feed millions. And it is fast becoming a cauldron of rivalry between powers great and small, as China asserts rights to land and sea also claimed by Southeast Asian neighbors.

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Naming and Shaming China Over the Environment
In 'China’s Environmental Abuses Fact Sheet,' published in September, the U.S. State Department catalogs what it says are environmentally ruinous Chinese policies and practices. Among the targets are China's world-leading emissions of greenhouse gases; its marine debris; manipulation of Mekong River flows; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; consumption of trafficked wildlife and timber; and the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources in developing countries through the One Belt One Road infrastructure initiative.

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Top Cambodian general’s family tied to $100 million Australian fraud
A pair of dodgy investment schemes link an Australian businessman to the upper echelons of the Cambodian People’s Party. The daughters of one of Cambodia’s most notorious and long-serving generals acted as fronts for an Australian real estate fraud valued at roughly $100 million, according to a 2019 federal court order. Gen. Pol Saroeun is one of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s most trusted lieutenants – commander-in-chief of the armed forces from 2009 to 2018 and now a senior minister.

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Myanmar Election 2020
Five years ago, historic elections elevated Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy to power after a long and peaceful struggle against military rule. The nation votes again Nov. 8, 2020 in what will be a popularity test of her civilian government. The daughters of one of Cambodia’s most notorious and long-serving generals acted as fronts for an Australian real estate fraud valued at roughly $100 million, according to a 2019 federal court order.

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One Belt One Road
A “win-win” for the world or a path to global dominance? The One Belt, One Road is a massive network of trade and transport infrastructure linking China with the rest of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Beijing is bankrolling roads, rail, ports, energy pipelines and industry in countries hungry for development with investments totaling hundreds of billions of dollars.

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In London, Cambodian elites tread in the Kremlin’s footsteps
The U.K.’s ‘Russia Report’ reveals London as a kleptocrat’s paradise, which may be why it’s such a magnet for politically connected Cambodians with cash to spare.

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The ‘Respectable’ Faces that Help Cambodia’s Elite Loot the Country
For 30 years international donors have poured money into Cambodia, and for 30 years international moneymen have helped siphon it out.

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China's New Claims in the South China Sea
As tensions mount in the South China Sea, China has named and claimed 80 obscure geographical features in those contested waters as it steps up its aggressive campaign to mark out territory and push out other claimants.

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Behind North Korea's Covid-19 Victory Claim
North Korea claims there is no COVID-19 inside of its border. Despite this claim, contradictory news is spreading inside and outside of North Korea.

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Hun Sen’s Niece Buys Cypriot Villas For €2.5 Million
In January, the wife of Cambodia’s most senior police officer dropped €2.5 million (US$2.7 million) on a pair of two-storey villas on the coast of Cyprus, Radio Free Asia has learned.

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Running Dry: Drought And Dams Deplete The Mighty Mekong
This year, the Mekong River is as dry as anyone can remember, threatening the livelihoods of tens of millions of people from the mountains of northern Laos to the delta region of southern Vietnam. A combination of lower than usual rainfall and runaway hydropower development is taking its toll on people who depend on its waters for irrigation and food.

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Cambodia energy chiefs tied to U.S. property worth $5 million
Questions linger over how the family of two senior civil servants bankrolled the purchase of US agricultural holdings covering nearly 200 acres.

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China's Coronavirus Fight Becomes a Global Battle as Cases Mount
With a rising death toll, and more novel coronavirus (nCoV) cases confirmed inside China and abroad, Beijing imposes blockades of cities and warns that the virus is becoming more easily transmissible between people.

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Locked Up in China
Authorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have since April 2017 created a vast system of 're-education' camps, believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring 'strong religious views' and 'politically incorrect' ideas. Most are separated from their families and detained in secrecy without due legal process. RFA and RFE/RL are collaborating to bring the mass incarceration story, which crosses the border between the regions we cover, to wider world attention.

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Overseas Property of Cambodia’s Elite
Over the last two decades, the leading lights of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have been quietly amassing international property portfolios worth millions of dollars. The existence of this real estate network was – until recently – entirely undocumented and what has been reported so far has been described by one analyst as “the tip of the iceberg.”

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$5 million apartment a launchpad to London high society for niece of Hun Sen
Moving to the English capital has allowed Hun Chantha to overhaul her public persona from ‘klepto-brat’ into respectable socialite

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How Did Cambodia’s First Family Afford Their Long Island Home?
The purchase of a four-bedroom detached home in an unremarkable suburb of New York by the family of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2000, revealed in land records obtained by Radio Free Asia, appears to have been the first step in their nearly two-decade effort to offshore their immense wealth.

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Political Crisis in Hong Kong
Public anger continues to grow in the city against proposed amendments that would allow the rendition of criminal suspects to mainland China.

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Remembering Tiananmen
On April 15, 1989, following the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, students began to call for democratic reforms. What began as small protests by a few universities soon turned into a national movement. People of all walks of life gathered across China to protest government corruption, profiteering, and media censorship. At the center of all this was Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where tens of thousands joined the peaceful, student-led protests. The Chinese government viewed the movement as “anti-party turmoil.” On the night of June 3, authorities sent armed troops to crush the protests. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

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China's Reach
As China rises as an economic and military power, so does its reach beyond its borders. China's influence is expanding in ways that shape the policies of governments and touch the lives of ordinary citizens in neighboring countries. China offers the promise of growth and a more-connected Asia, but brings with it fears of Chinese dominance. Here is a selection of Radio Free Asia's latest reporting on how China is changing the region.



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Laos and its Dams: Southeast Asia’s Battery, Built by China
Landlocked Laos aims to become the “battery of Southeast Asia” and escape poverty by exporting electricity to its richer neighbors. China is a major player in Laos’ ambitious hydropower plans. As of 2016, Laos has completed 40 dams on Mekong tributaries. An additional 50 dams are due for completion by 2020. Two of them, the Xayaburi and Don Sahong, are on the Mekong River. China is involved in about half of Laos’ hydropower projects. Beijing has poured at least $11 billion in development financing into the country, much of it for dam building



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Behind the Walls: Three Uyghurs Detail their Experience in China's Secret 'Re-education' Camps
Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in political “re-education camps” throughout northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).Credible sources suggest that some 1.1 million people are or have been detained in the camps, which equates to 10-11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region. Uyghurs have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule. RFA’s Uyghur Service recently met with several Uyghurs living in exile in Turkey, who shared details of the abuse they endured while forced to attend political indoctrination sessions, or while detained in extrajudicial prisons and in the re-education camp network.



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No Competition: Cambodia's 2018 Elections
On July 29, 2018, Cambodia will hold its sixth general election since it emerged from decades of war in 1993. Cambodians go to the polls amid widespread condemnation from the international community that the dissolution on spurious charges last November of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the main opposition party, removed all meaningful competition for the ruling party of strongman Hun Sen.



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The Families Left Behind RFA’s Uyghur Reporters Tell The Stories of Their Family Members’ Detentions
Six Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service reporters have spent years in exile covering unreported news and documenting human rights abuses under heavy-handed Chinese rule in their homeland in northwestern China. Now, dozens of their family members residing in what China calls the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region unwillingly have become part of one of RFA’s biggest stories: They are inmates in the vast and growing constellation of political re-education camps, sharing the fate of as many as one million Uyghurs who are being held without due process for ill-defined reasons, under Beijing’s brutal campaign against what it calls religious extremism and separatism.



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China’s Fast Track to Influence: Building A Railway in Laos
A high-speed railway connecting Laos to China is among Beijing’s most aggressive investment forays into Southeast Asia. The U.S. $6 billion project will stretch 409 km (254 miles) from the Lao-China border to the Lao capital, Vientiane. The railway – which will eventually stretch from Kunming in southwestern China through Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia to Singapore – is a key component of China’s signature global infrastructure plan, the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.



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How the West was 'Won': The Making of a Police State on China’s 'New Frontier'
Life has never been easy for Uyghurs, unwilling subjects of China, whose land – strategically located in Central Asia – is rich in oil and other natural resources coveted by Chinese industry. Uyghurs have long complained of discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule. With this project, we aim to lay out Chen’s systematic efforts to turn the region into a police state, and to describe the ways in which his curbs on the liberties of everyday Uyghurs are violating China’s own constitution.



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The Rohingya: World's Least-Wanted People
A persecuted Muslim ethnic minority—in Myanmar for centuries but denied citizenship by the government—finds itself vulnerable and unwelcome around the world.



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Myanmar’s Saffron Revolution: 10 Years Later
Mass protests erupted in Myanmar in 2007, sparked at first by widespread anger over a steep jump in fuel prices. But public ire quickly turned against the military government that had ruled the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist for five decades. The protest movement was dubbed the ‘Saffron Revolution’ – named after the saffron-colored robes widely associated with Buddhist monks, who were at the forefront of the demonstrations.



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Chinese Dissident, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, 61, Dies of Cancer
'I hope to be the last victim of China’s endless literary inquisition, and that after this no one else will ever be jailed for their speech.' Liu Xiaobo in a 2009 statement that was read before his empty chair at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Norway.



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Cambodian Communal Elections, 2017
Cambodia will hold commune/sangkat council elections on June 4, when 94,595 candidates from 12 political parties will compete for the 11,572 seats in rural and urban precincts.



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Vietnam: The Fishermen and the Sea
Fishermen from the island district of Ly Son in central Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province have been fishing in waters near the disputed Paracel Islands for more than 200 years. In recent years, however, they say Chinese naval personnel regularly confiscate their catches, destroy their equipment, ram their vessels -- and even detain them.



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Fool's Gold
What happened when the world's largest trading platform for rare metals turned out to be a government sponsored Ponzi scheme? 240,000 Chinese investors lose $6.54 billion in Yunnan Kunming Fanya Metal Exchange.



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Poisoning China's Future
Residents of mainland China are increasingly bringing their children to Hong Kong for inoculations amid reports of tainted and improperly stored vaccines at home, causing concern among parents across the border who say the practice has led to a shortage in local serum.



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A River in Peril
The Mekong the lifeblood of more than 60 million people who depend on it for food, transportation, and commerce. But dams have changed the river, impoverishing fisheries and fields. Witnesses from Thailand to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam tell the story.



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The Wild West: Gold Mining and its Hazards in Myanmar
Mine Naung, in Mohnyin district of Myanmar’s Kachin state, is home to hundreds of gold mines. Residents of the small village say they are at odds over the industry that can uncover vast wealth, but at a cost to the local environment and traditions.



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Shooting Death of Popular Activist Roils Cambodia
Popular political analyst Kem Ley was shot dead on July 10 at a gas station convenience store in the capital Phnom Penh, causing an outpouring of grief in Cambodia. He was buried in his hometown in southwestern Cambodia’s Takeo province on July 25 after a weekend funeral procession that drew as many as two million mourners.



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Between identity and Integration
Over the past 60 years, tens of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs from northwest China’s Xinjiang region have fled oppression and political violence at home, seeking refuge in the west. This mass migration has increasingly drawn the attention of the global community in recent years.



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China’s Long Arm: Wielding Influence in Cambodia
In the modern history of Cambodia, no country has loomed as large as China. Beijing wields pivotal influence on its smaller and poorer southern neighbor – from providing ideological inspiration and patronage for the Khmer Rouge and its radical revolution in the 1970s, to granting a home in exile for Cambodia’s deposed monarch, to offering investment and legitimacy to Hun Sen’s authoritarian state today.

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Human Capital:North Korean Workers Abroad Earn Hard Currency for Regime
Desperate for hard currency, North Korea has been sending tens of thousands of its people abroad to earn cash for the state, dispatching lumberjacks to Russia, construction workers to the Middle East and medics to countries in Africa. The clinics, however, face growing criticism among Tanzanians for doctors who are unqualified and can't communicate with patients, misdiagnosis of illnesses, unsanitary conditions and poorly labeled medicines that contain toxic metals.

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Cambodia: If You Can’t Beat Them, Jail Them
Cambodia’s constitution provides for a parliamentary democracy based on open elections. But 15 politicians and 10 human rights activists remain in jail as the country prepares for local elections next year and general elections in 2018.


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Cambodia probes new HIV outbreak
More than a dozen people from Cambodia’s Kandal province have contracted the HIV virus, causing health officials to launch an investigation to determine the extent and cause of the infection, according to government officials and villagers.


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Aung San Suu Kyi, a Political Destiny
From her birth in 1945, Myanmar’s icon of democracy—and the daughter of its independence hero, Gen. Aung San—seemed destined for a life of duty. Following are key milestones in the life of the Nobel peace laureate and opposition leader.


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Myanmar Elections Explained
The Union Election Commission has announced that the election will be held on Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar has 83 registered political parties which must contest at least three constituencies each to take part in the polls. Parties must submit their candidate lists to the UEC by Aug. 31, and will be permitted to campaign within 60 days of the election.


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Breaking Free, Stories of Escape From Traffickers
In 2012, Radio Free Asia published a series of investigative video reports documenting the plight of trafficking victims in China and Southeast Asia. Since then, the phenomenon has worsened. Throughout Southeast Asia, women and girls are still recruited by brokers to be sold as brides in China. And men, in search of an income to support their families, are still being lured into fishing work they are not free to leave.


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The Dalai Lama Turns 80
2015 marks the 80th anniversary of the birth year of Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet. Born on July 6, 1935 and trained from a young age as a Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama was thrust early into his role as Tibet’s national leader.



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South China Sea Tensions
Commercial, military, and environmental concerns have been growing for decades in the resource-rich South China Sea. But China’s assertive claims, now backed by a growing military presence in the region, are raising new alarms not only among its neighbors but in the United States and the wider international community. At stake are not only economic interests but strategic ones as well.



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Vietnam, 40 Years After the Fall
Vietnamese communities worldwide marked the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. This collection of RFA features looks back at how what Vietnamese call "the American War" ended and a new era began.



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Timeline: Myanmar Student Protest
The protest arose after Myanmar Parliament passes the National Education Bill, with support from the opposition. Disappointed student organizations and independent experts say the law restricts academic independence and vow to fight to amend the law.



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Kokang Conflict
Myanmar’s military is fighting a brutal war with Kokang rebels, an ethnic Chinese group living in a northern region of Myanmar once part of China. Many among the local population have fled to the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. China and Myanmar share a long and rugged border. RFA reports from the conflict zone.



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Hun Sen | The Making of a Strongman
At 62, Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia, is one of the longest-serving heads of government in the world. He rose to power following the devastating rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and after he had left that group to join forces with Vietnam. Accused by human rights groups around the world of torturing and murdering his opponents, he is widely regarded as a ruthless politician and master manipulator who has spread a web of economic and social controls over his country.



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A Look Back at the Legacy of Zhao Ziyang
For the past 26 years, Chinese authorities have done everything they can to erase the name of Zhao Ziyang. But he still lives in the memory of those who want the truth about China's contemporary history to be told.



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Long History of Tensions in North Korea
North Korea’s hacking into Sony’s computer system is only the latest - if the most damaging for a private company - in a series of aggressive moves by the reclusive nation that further raises tensions between the united states and its ally, South Korea.


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The Umbrella Revolution
Hong Kong displays a unique mix of Chinese and Western cultures, a legacy of 155 years of British colonial rule and its role as a world financial center. Following its return to mainland China in 1997, it has moved forward under the banner of “one country, two systems.” Today, though, its special status has been threatened by the overreaching hand of Beijing.

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The World Speaks Out
Throughout the events in Hong Kong, communities around the world expressed support for the students via text messages, phone calls, email, and social media.

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Emerging Myanmar
After five decades of isolation under a repressive military government, Myanmar is bounding back onto the world stage. In this series of videos, reports and slideshows, RFA looks at the conflicts and challenges facing an emerging Myanmar.

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Asia's Great Land Grab
Rising tension over land seizures is emerging as a critical issue in Asia. Well-connected business, military and government interests often prey on the poor and uneducated to reap big profits in Asia’s booming real estate markets. But, increasingly, emboldened citizens across the continent are fighting back. This special RFA report examines the changing dynamic of Asia’s Great Land Grab.

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Uyghurs: The Troubled Fate of a Minority
Relations have long been difficult between Han Chinese and Muslim Uyghurs in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region. The Chinese government speaks of waging a ‘war against terrorism,’ while the Uyghurs point to land grabs, social humiliation, and culturally punitive Chinese policies. Follow the escalation of violence in this resource-rich area in a time line from 2008 to today.

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Cambodia Election 2013
Both the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have claimed victory in July 28 national elections, leaving the country in a political deadlock. The CNRP has said the vote was marred by irregularities and called for an independent probe. The National Election Committee has announced that the CPP won 49 percent of the vote and the CNRP 44 percent, but results for the 123-seat National Assembly have yet to be disclosed.

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Poisoned at the Source
A series of recent scandals have shaken public confidence in the safety and quality of China’s food. From deadly infant formula to the discovery of thousands of dead pigs floating in a major river near Shanghai, Chinese consumers increasingly worry whether the food on their tables is safe to eat—as do consumers and authorities in the many countries to which China exports.

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The Water Project
In Asia, one in five people already lacks access to clean water. Availability of fresh water per capita is less than half the world average, and demand is growing fast. As the situation reaches crisis level, causes are revealed: global warming, water-intensive agriculture, and population growth, but also mismanagement on a large scale.
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Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery
Human trafficking has become a global problem. Millions of people become victims through entrapment and exploitation. In this in-depth series, RFA reporters go into the heart of Asia's human trafficking business to document cases of this form of modern slavery.


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Disappearing River
Our Cantonese reporter traveled under cover in highly industrialized Guangdong Province to investigate the causes of pollution in the Dong River, a major tributary of the Pearl River. In less than ten years, the river has changed radically for the worse..


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Kashgar's Vanishing Memory
Chinese authorities plan to rebuild the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar to make it earthquake-proof, but a sanctuary of ancient Uyghur architecture and culture could be lost forever.



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Least-Wanted People, the Rohinga
A small, persecuted Muslim ethnic minority—in Burma for centuries but denied citizenship by the government—finds itself vulnerable and unwelcome around the world.



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Traveling Down the Mekong
The Mekong River is the longest river in Southeast Asia and supports the lives of 70 million people from Tibet to Vietnam. Our reporters undertook the journey to tell their stories in blog posts, video diaries and images.
First Place at the 2010 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards
and Winner of the 2010 Min Online Editorial & Design Finalist Award

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