Last week in the East Asia Pacific region, fighting broke out between the Myanmar military and the Myanmar National Truth and Justice Party/Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNTJP/MNDAA) in northern Shan state. The military also sentenced seven university students to death. In the Philippines, fighting between the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and state forces continued. In China, widespread protests took place against coronavirus lockdowns, with some protesters calling for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to resign. Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), made considerable gains in the country’s local elections. In South Korea, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) held rallies across the country to demand better working conditions.
In Myanmar’s northern Shan state, a combined force of the military and military-aligned militia attacked and attempted to occupy the strategic Nam Pha hill base held by the MNTJP/MNDAA. Fighting was reported for three days between 27 and 29 November, resulting in losses for the military (Irrawaddy, 1 December 2022). After retreating, the military fired artillery towards the border town of Chin Shwe Haw, near the location of the base, on 30 November. The MNTJP/MNDAA is a member of the Brotherhood Alliance, which includes the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA). The ULA/AA began a temporary, informal ceasefire with the military last week after intense fighting over the previous months (Irrawaddy, 28 November 2022). Meanwhile, seven university students were sentenced to death last week. They had been arrested in April and accused of assassinating a retired deputy general (Myanmar Now, 1 December 2022). In July, the military carried out the first executions in decades.
Last week in the Philippines, fighting between NPA rebels and state forces continued in Western Visayas, Bicol Region, and Northern Mindanao provinces. Multiple clashes in Western Visayas led to five reported rebel fatalities. Those killed included the renowned poet Ericson Acosta, who had been a consultant for the National Democratic Front (NDF), reportedly representing the NPA in peace negotiations with the government. The military claimed Acosta and another communist rebel died in a firefight in Kabankalan City; however, the NDF claimed Acosta and his companion were captured alive by the military and then summarily executed (Rappler, 30 November 2022). These trends contribute to the 167% increase in violent events in Western Visayas over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. Meanwhile, five armed drug suspects were killed during police raids last week, amid the launch of a new anti-illegal drug campaign, ‘Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan’ (Care for Life, Refuse Drugs). The government claims that the campaign will break from the widely condemned ‘war on drugs’ implemented by the previous administration, to focus on the reduction of demand and rehabilitation of drug users rather than the killing of drug users (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 November 2022).
In China, a wave of protests began in Urumqi, Xinjiang, after a residential fire killed 10 people in the city on 24 November. The deaths have largely been attributed by the public to stringent COVID-19 lockdown policies which allegedly hampered rescue efforts. The day after the fire, local residents gathered outside a government office to demand an end to COVID-19 lockdowns (South China Morning Post, 27 November 2022). Demonstrations subsequently spread to other parts of China. On 26 November, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Shanghai and chanted slogans for democracy and the resignation of Xi Jinping, holding blank papers to oppose censorship. Police dispersed crowds, beat demonstrators, and arrested at least 10 people (Radio Free Asia, 27 November 2022). Demonstrations related to dissatisfaction with COVID-19 lockdowns were recorded in at least 20 cities, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Wuhan (Hubei), Chongqing (Sichuan), Nanjing (Jiangsu), and Guangzhou (Guangdong) (CRLW, 28 November 2022). Some demonstrations turned violent, with people destroying quarantine barriers, tearing down COVID-19 testing stations, and clashing with police (HK01, 30 November 2022). These trends contribute to the 800% increase in violent events in China over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Conflict Change Map. Solidarity demonstrations were reported across the region, including in Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
In Taiwan, the opposition KMT secured 13 out of 21 cities and counties during local elections held on 26 November, pushing the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) out of power from KMT strongholds in northern Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen resigned as the DPP chairperson in response. The local elections come ahead of the presidential election in January 2024 (Focus Taiwan, 27 November 2022).
In South Korea, freight and cargo truckers affiliated with the KCTU held a series of nationwide rallies throughout the week, calling for the government to extend and expand safety guarantees and minimum freight rates for truck drivers. The KCTU has been on a general strike since 24 November, with the government issuing an order on 29 November for truckers to return to work (Hankyoreh, 30 November 2022). Labor and civic groups, the opposition, and progressive parties staged rallies against the government’s order in solidarity with the KCTU.
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.