Asia Catalyst


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By Yu Fangqiang

Chinese civil rights activist Yu Fangqiang tells the story behind his "10,000 Smiles" campaign, which collected over 12,000 photos of people holding up signs in English and Chinese with slogans against HIV-related discrimination such as "People with HIV/AIDS have the right to work." The photos included a diverse group of individuals including government officials, students, people on the street, and U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, and they were shared online through social media and news reports in China's official news organ, People's Daily.

By Wang Wen 

Recently, I read a short piece with no headline that was posted to an email group. The author, one of our fellow drug users in Kaiyuan City, Yunnan Province, said that when he took a make-up test for one part of his driving license exam on September 6, the local traffic management department told him that his license has been revoked based on The Notice about Strengthening the Management of Automobile Driving for Drug Addicts. Because he had been detained by the local police station on August 21, 2012 for using drugs, the police labeled him as an unreformed drug user. 

By Ken Oh 

At the opening ceremony for the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington DC, UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe announced that the South Korea had just lifted its travel restrictions on people living with HIV. The announcement met with a wave of applause. Hours before the speech, Kim Bong-hyun, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs, had announced that the South Korea had lifted travel restrictions on HIV-positive travelers to the country. There were only two problems with this momentous announcement: first, South Korea had made more or less the same announcement in 2010; and second, it is not clear that South Korea has made any of the needed legal reforms since then. Numerous discriminatory restrictions on visitors living with HIV/AIDS remain in place.

To:The National Internet Information Office,Ministry of Industry and Information Technology 

In response to the Notice of Soliciting Public Comment on the Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services (Draft for Public Comment) issued by the two departments on June 7, 2012, I set out below my comment.

Section 1 of Article 15 of the Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services (Draft for Public Comment) (hereinafter referred to as "the Draft") stipulates that any Internet information service provider which provides services of Internet users disseminating information to the public should require any of the Internet users to register real identity information. 



By Mike Frick 

Many of our partners in China engage in "outreach" to marginalized communities such as sex workers, drug users, or men who have sex with men, that are at increased risk of contracting HIV. We hear a lot about "outreach," but what do these activities actually look like in practice? China program director Gisa Hartmann and I experienced outreach first-hand when we accompanied Lanlan, a member of Asia Catalyst's NGO Leadership Cohort, on an afternoon with female sex workers in Tianjin.

Lanlan is the founder and executive director of Tianjin's Xin'ai Home, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the health and rights of female sex workers in Tianjin. Over the course of four hours, Lan Lan showed us two different outreach environments: a bathhouse with about twenty-five sex workers and a street with dozens of hair salons and massage parlors, each staffed by two or three women.

A disturbing trend is underway. According to an editorial in the latest edition of The Lancet, there is a surge in patient violence against doctors in Chinese hospitals. Root causes include "poor investment in the health system and in training and paying doctors, which can lead to medical errors, corruption, and poor communication between health professionals and patients." The Lancet also highlights societal factors such as "negative media reports about doctors, poor public understanding of medicine, unrealistic patient expectations about treatments, and catastrophic out-of-pocket health-care expenses for families."
By Shen Tingting
Women in China face a threatening environment, including the risk of violence at home, in the workplace, at government agencies and organized crime. At least one in four Chinese women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Many women also experience discrimination, especially in the workplace. Other social issues include human trafficking, and marriage and family issues. At the same time, there is a leadership deficit at the national level. There is no woman in the inner circle of China's leadership, the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party. As Chinese women's rights activist Wu Qing points out: Lack of political freedom is stifling the women's movement.

In response, in the past decade, China has seen the rapid emergence of an independent civil society. In 2010, Chinese authorities estimated there were 444,000 NGOs, many led by women. The rapid growth, perseverance and courage of these civil society leaders, who are effectively mobilizing and empowering their communities, has led to small but tangible gains for women.

By Kthi Win

Plenery speech by Kaythi Win, Chairperson of Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, at Association of Women in Development Forum forum in Istanbul on April 21,  2012. See the exciting video here.

Hello everybody,

I am Kthi Win from Myanmar and I am a sex worker. I manage a national organization for female, male & transgender sex workers in Burma & I am also the chairperson of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers.  Until now, organizing anything in Myanmar has been very difficult.  And people ask, "how did you set up a national program for sex workers?"  And my answer to them is "Our work is illegal.  Every night we manage to earn money without getting arrested by the police.  We used to work and organize together, so we use this knowledge in order to work out how we can set up the National Network without making the government angry".

This topic is about transforming economic power.  I want to say to you, that when a woman makes the decision to sell sex, she has already made the decision to empower herself economically.  What we do in organizing sex workers, is we build on the power that the sex worker has already taken for herself - the decision to not be poor.

For the past few weekends, I've been gradually deleting information from my Facebook account. Each Sunday, a few more photos come down. That's because I read Rebecca MacKinnon's call to arms, Consent of the Networked, which shows that Facebook, Twitter, and Google are acquiring the size and power of nation-states, but without the democratic accountability or transparency citizens may demand of the states that govern them. Mackinnon asks, "How do we make sure that people with power over our digital lives will not abuse that power?"

By Gregg Gonsalves

Lant Pritchett--a Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School--has been leading a campaign against the election of Jim Kim to the World Bank presidency.   While he isn't the only critic of Dr. Kim's nomination, he is among the most vocal and well-known.   Though his views are his own, they have been amplified by other leading development economists, such as William Easterly at New York University and people associated with the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.


Over the past few weeks, Pritchett has publicly questioned Kim's qualifications, saying a lack of training in economics and experience in world finance should disqualify him from the post. He has further suggested that Kim's nomination shows  the arrogance and hegemony of American power over the institution.  He has called for Kim to step aside for a merit-based election, in which the Nigerian candidate for the post, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (a World Bank, Harvard and MIT alum, also finance minister of Nigeria) would presumably sweep to victory.


A few days ago, Pritchett wrote an article in the New Republic (TNR) which comes clean about the real reasons for the escalating, grasping campaign of opposition to Jim Kim. The piece is called "Why Obama's World Bank Pick Is Proving So Controversial."   The title is an overreach:  It should really read "Why Obama's World Bank Pick Is Proving So Controversial to Me and My Friends."