Protests continue in Myanmar after the February 1 coup. For the past week, citizens have been taking to the streets in demonstrations against the military junta and its takeover, claiming for the end of their rule and the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and her government. Despite meeting heavy opposition, including tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets, protesters do not cease in their efforts, especially the younger generations. In an attempt to tackle the problem, the military junta is trying to pass a bill to control the internet in the country. However, international pressure is mounting, with Facebook restricting the freedom of reach of the government to tackle misinformation, and protecting content published by citizens against attempts of censorship. These movements come alongside the announcement of sanctions by President Biden, and calls for Western businesses to break ties with the generals.
China banned the BBC World News TV channel, on grounds of violating requirements of truth and fairness in their news, and as a retaliatory action against the United Kingdom for banning the China Global Television Network. Both the US and the UK have complained, arguing that the measure will damage China’s reputation due to its oppression of freedom of speech. This week, the Chinese Communist Party has also blocked access to ClubHouse, an app where citizens were gathering to discuss sensitive topics, such as Xinjiang. The government has declared that internet in China is open, but subject to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and opposition to foreign influence.
Meanwhile, Taiwan has its strongest monthly exports ever last month, with a 37 per cent jump compared to January 2020. The current shortage of semiconductors, which has affected from automakers to videogame consoles such as the PS5, has reinforced the position of Taiwan, thanks to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., their main chipmaker, which is currently expanding its facilities to meet increasing demands. John Deng, Taiwan’s trade representative, has argued that this is an opportunity for foreign governments to be forced to acknowledge the country. In fact, the EU is considering the possibility of signing an agreement with TSMC and Samsung to build their own advanced semiconductor factory in Europe.
Today is the start of the Lunar New Year, but the Chinese government has called to avoid nonessential travels, as well as a series of strict measures which have made the number of trips fall by 74 per cent compared to last year. This has caused anger amongst many, especially migrant workers, for whom the Lunar New Year is their only chance to see their families. Similar restrictions have been put in place across Southeast Asia, as well as Taiwan, where only 19 cases have been reported since the start of the month, and Hong Kong, where health experts have warned against the relaxation of measures during this time of the year.