An employee hoses a China Railway High-speed Harmony bullet train at the high-speed train maintenance base in Wuhan, Hubei province on October 19, 2011. (Stringer Shanghai / Courtesy Reuters)
Jared Mondschein looks at the key stories in Asia behind the headlines.
– Clamping down in cyberspace: With more than 485 million Internet users and 300 million microbloggers, the Internet in China allows “netizens” to voice their opinions on everything from Wukan to Beijing’s air quality to North Korea. Beijing, however, has never been quite comfortable with such an open marketplace of ideas. Now, in an attempt to “purge online rumors and enhance social credibility,” Guangzhou and Shenzhen have joined Beijing in requiring new users of China’s microblogs to register with their real names. China’s netizens unsurprisingly have not taken well to the clampdown, as one microblogger wrote: “There will only ever be a single voice speaking now.”
– Who’s the fairest of them all? There’s no doubt that the center of economic gravity in Asia is China, while the United States holds the security card for the region. But whom do regular citizens across the region prefer? According to a Gallup poll of citizens in Cambodia, Australia, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, for the most part there is a higher approval for U.S. leadership: The median approval rate for U.S. leadership stands at 44 percent while China’s is at 30 percent. Respondents ranked U.S. leadership more highly than Chinese in eight out of the nine countries polled. Read more »