Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Digital Asia Links: Bitcoin bans, online gambling and heavy metal guitars

Sarah Logan with links on digital developments across Asia.

Bali, Indonesia (Photo: Aleksandr Zykov/Flickr)
Bali, Indonesia (Photo: Aleksandr Zykov/Flickr)
Published 18 Dec 2017   Follow @DrSarahLogan

  • South Korea is bitcoin central, and the government is worried. A newly created government taskforce met for the first time this month, seeking ways to manage what many see as rampant speculation.
  • Meanwhile, Indonesia is to ban bitcoin from 2018 in repose to concerns that the currency can be used to fuel illegal activity including prostitution, money laundering and drug trafficking.
  • The former head of the Chinese internet regulator, Lu Wei, has been placed under investigation for corruption, leading some to suggest an imminent loosening of his iron grip on the Chinese internet. This excellent piece suggests that far from indicating a shift towards a lighter touch, the denunciation of Lu Wei represents a change of approach to one emphasising ideological struggle, meaning very little will change for the better.
  • Southeast Asia’s internet economy is growing faster than expected, outpacing earlier expectations by 35% according to a recent report co-authored by Google.
  • The Asian Development Bank has announced $US750, 000 for a study into the effects of disruptive technology on the Indonesian economy.
  • Authorities in Laos have reportedly cooperated with Thailand to block the videos of a fugitive redshirt militant in hiding.
  • Facing increasing regulation at home, Chinese bitcoin miners are looking to the region, negotiating electricity prices with local authorities and buying sites for future use.
  • Cambodia’s gambling industry is booming, thanks largely to Chinese gamblers who gamble exclusively online. The industry’s latest hotspot is Sihanoukville, bolstered by a new highspeed undersea cable.
  • Amid diplomatic fallout between North Korea and China Russia is helping to provide North Korea with internet access. What could go wrong?
  • Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, is helping Japanese e-commerce companies test whether their site will work on the other side of the Great Firewall. Interestingly, Baidu might suggest embedding a site aimed at Chinese consumers with links to Chinese services – so WeCHat rather than Twitter, for example and, of course, Baidu over Google.
  • A video of a young Indonesian girl ripping it up on guitar to a heavy metal track is about to hit 2 million views:

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