Lowy Institute

The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • As Cambodia's politicians are locked in a fierce Facebook battle for influence, a string of recent arrests due to Facebook posts is causing alarm.
  • A sophisticated cyber espionage campaign is after high-profile Japanese targets.
  • Social media is shaping up to be a key front in Singapore's upcoming general election.
  • Increasing numbers of Indian youth are connecting with ISIS via social media accounts managed out of the Gulf.
  • Indonesia's 30 million+ mobile gamers are the target of a new range of app games that promote wildlife conservation.
  • How does a Bitcoin transaction work and can the technology behind it help eradicate corruption in Asia?
  • New research on the implications of social media analysis tools for disaster preparedness in the Asia Pacific. 
  • An interesting blog post about how ICT tools are being used to solve agriculture problems in Bangladesh.
  • Why Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi is Apple's largest threat in China (and soon everywhere else). 
  • How NGOs are using mobile apps and social media in Cambodia to counter gender-based violence.
  • In light of the government's decision to block websites spreading information about a major anti-government rally, Al Jazeera details the battle for Malaysia's cyberspace
  • Indonesia's digital economy could be world class if the right policies and incentives were put in place.
  • This short documentary on cyber security and civil society in India tackles privacy, surveillance, anonymity and free speech:

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • An unusual partnership between e-commerce giant Alibaba and one of China's largest arms exporters.
  • A whopping 67% of Indonesians shopped on their smartphones in the last year.
  • A review of the role Chinese  social media played in relaying news and images about the Tianjin explosions.
  • Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je is under fire in Taiwan after his wife's Facebook revealed he was at home when Super Typhoon Soudelor hit. Ko defended his actions by claiming he kept abreast of rescue efforts and gave commands via mobile chat app LINE.
  • Google, Apple, Xiaomi and Foxconn rush in as India becomes the world's hottest smartphone market.
  • It may be blocked in China but that doesn't stop Twitter from working with Chinese firms.  
  • A new report from The Economist on 'Asia's digital disruption' examines three trends: the rise of mobile, social media and online commerce.
  • These four tech entrepreneurs from India have landed on MIT's '35 innovators under 35' list.
  • New data shows digital adoption in China is not slowing, with QQ still the country's most popular social media platform, hitting 843 million monthly active users.
  • Five things you need to know before launching a mobile app in Indonesia.
  • In China's booming tech scene, where is all the money coming from?
  • The BBC reviews Indian Prime Minister Modi's new mobile app, calling it 'Tinder for good governance'. The app, which includes messages and blogs directly from the Prime Minister and enables users to share their ideas, is explained here by his YouTube channel:

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • Follow Twitter hashtag #Tianjin for updates on Wednesday's terrible explosion in northeast China.
  • Associate Professor Guobin Yang has shared this drawing, popular on Weibo, portraying the Tianjin explosions.
  • Does popular mobile dating app Tinder really have users in North Korea?
  • The 2013 science-fiction movie 'Her' is playing out in China, with Microsoft's 'girlfriend' chatbot (called Xiaoice) proving a huge hit with smartphone users.
  • Taiwanese independence supporters are re-designing their passports and uploading them to social media.
  • A handy backgrounder on how to get the most out of WeChat.
  • Tech developers in Myanmar have built an app and website to track flooded locations, donations and news.
  • Chinese actress Xu Jinglei has sparked a widespread social media debate about Chinese state control of women's reproductive rights after admitting to traveling to the US in 2013 to freeze her eggs.
  • It's only a matter of time before taxi and ride-sharing  apps make it big in Pakistan.
  • Indian rapper Sofia Ashraf has parodied the popular Nicky Minaj song 'Anaconda' to draw attention to the alleged mercury poisoning of workers in the city of Kodaikanal. Three million views later, it's safe to say it has gone viral (h/t Asia Digital Life Project) :

 

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On the first Friday of each month the Interpreter will publish Digital Diplomacy links instead of the weekly Digital Asia links. As Australian digital diplomacy strives to catch-up to the rest of the world, these links will highlight the most creative and effective ways in which countries are leveraging the internet for foreign policy gain.

  • Prime Minister Modi's Weibo diplomacy is winning friends in China, with the Global Times claiming it is helping build Sino-India understanding.
  • Should Ambassadors tweet in addition to their embassies? This analysis says 'yes'.
  • Foreign Minister Bishop's world-first 'emoji diplomacy' wins her a spot in this digital diplomacy timeline.
  • Angus Campbell, Chief of the Australian Army, has joined Twitter.
  • A list of the top global digital diplomacy influencers on Twitter (full network analysis graphed here).
  • Digital advocate and UK Ambassador Tom Fletcher farewells Lebanon after four years with a beautiful and frank blog post that would never have made it out of the DFAT clearance process.
  • Canada's Foreign Ministry calls out the President of Burundi on Twitter.
  • The Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands has launched a social media atlas which geo-locates its almost 600 accounts and ranks them in terms of popularity.
  • This Huffington Post article argues diplomats need to move beyond online platforms to deliver soft power.
  • Canada's Embassy in Beijing gets creative in promoting and selling Canadian lobsters online (and in doing so undercuts Australia's 'overly expensive lobsters').
  • Interested in tuning in to media briefings given by India's Foreign Secretary? Podcasts available here.
  • new think-tank report commissioned by the foreign ministries of Finland and Belgium notes a shift towards online-offline blends of 'hybrid diplomacy.'
  • More cartoon diplomacy from Israel's Foreign Ministry with the release of 'Iran is like ISIS, just much bigger'.
  • It appears China is also venturing into cartoon diplomacy with this animated short explaining the significance of the BRICS (look out for Modi & selfie stick at 2:08):

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • How Western companies and governments are using Weibo (and its 600 million users) to seize opportunities in China. Who's doing well? Apparently Tourism NZ and condom seller Durex.
  • India's police are asking citizens to use live-streaming app Periscope to report crimes.
  • A political party in Taiwan and an unnamed news agency in Hong Kong are among the latest victims of the recent attack on Italian cybersecurity firm Hacking Team.
  • This podcast details Singapore's booming subculture of Instagram influencers.
  • Technology manufacturing is taking off in Vietnam, and tech companies are investing in training the next generation of Vietnamese workers.
  • The PLA announced it has developed the world's 'smartest camera' (more detail in Chinese language media here).
  • Today, the Taiwanese Government begins taking entrepreneur visa applications from foreign nationals in an attempt to position itself as a major Asia-Pacific hub for tech and innovation.
  • Will Taiwan's low cost of living lure over expats from Asia's top tech hubs, Japan, China and Singapore? 
  • How does Chinese state media keep citizens angry at Japan? Clickbait nationalism.
  • Businesses in PNG are being impacted by e-commerce, mobile technologies, cloud computing and the 'Internet of Things'.
  • FireChat, the preferred app of Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement protesters, has thrown down the gauntlet to WhatsApp with its new off-grid encrypted texting feature. You don't need a mobile network, wi-fi connection or even a Sim card. This video shows how it works:

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • Chinese social media is buzzing after a horde of Western models scantily clad as Spartans and delivering salad as a publicity stunt for a Beijing restaurant were accosted and detained by police for disturbing public order.
  • This analysis balances up China's cyber and human collection capabilities in the country's new intelligence war against the US.
  • New research by Citizen Lab has found  about 1.5% of all WeChat posts are censored, including many which are harmless and contain 'outright falsehoods, tabloid gossip, and sensationalism'.
  • China's cost-conscious netizens are more likely to jump on Baidu and search for the price of a Toyota Corolla  or a crossbow than a smartphone.
  • While Uber and Didi Kuaidi battle it out for China's ride-sharing app market, reports claim Uber is struggling to find Chinese investors and expects to lose US$3 billion in the next three years. 
  • BBC's Travel Show sends a host (with no Mandarin) to navigate his way around China's tourist hot spots using only local social media networks and mobile apps.
  • China's first gay web series is attracting attention with 24 million+ views since its 2014 release. The show's producer is also the founder of Zank, one of many gay social apps fighting for supremacy in China's dating app market. (H/t Asia Digital Life Project.)
  • The Chinese Government has blocked encrypted mobile messaging app Telegram amid accusations the app aided the work of Chinese human-rights lawyers.
  • Many are watching for reactions to pop star Taylor Swift's August clothing line launch in China. The collection is peppered with 'T.S 1989' Swift's initials and album title (her year of birth), posing an awkward conundrum for state censors who have scrubbed China's internet of all references to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • Some insist commerce will reign over censorship when it comes to Swift's 1989 merchandise; others have turned straight to memes (h/t @fryan): 

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • South Korean intelligence lands in hot water after allegations overseas North Korean agents were targeted through popular chat app Kakao Talk.
  • How politically-focused Facebook groups are helping Uzbeks get around the country’s notoriously harsh internet restrictions. (h/t Brendan.)
  • A conversation about Indonesia's tech startup culture and how to decentralise the sector.
  • Inspired by US reality star Kim Kardashian's hugely popular app, Filipino celebrities are diving into the lucrative world of mobile games.
  • Social media and chat apps are reshaping health care in India, with doctors connecting with patients using WhatsApp, Skype and Viber.
  • Investments are surging in Myanmar's telecoms sector;  there are now 18 million SIM cards in circulation, up from 1 million in 2012.
  • New research looking at tsunami-prone areas in Thailand finds that villages which cultivate strong online and offline social networks are better prepared for natural disasters.
  • Want a digital pet or to know exactly where your food is coming from? Chinese netizens are flocking to a new mobile app which lets users adopt, monitor and sell live sheep.
  • The Asia Pacific is Twitter’s fastest growing region. And for some of Twitter's largest markets, including Japan, Indonesia and India, it’s all about mobile video
  • Are these internet sensations the future of Australian soft power in Japan? An Australian-born Gorilla nicknamed ikemen ('hot guy'), which is attracting a steady stream of female visitors in Nagoya; and Australian pro-wrestler and J-pop singer Ladybeard:

 

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • Prime Minister Modi is leading the digital campaign #SelfieWithDaughter to draw attention to India's declining child sex ratio. Some argue real reform (not selfies) is what's needed.
  • How the Chinese Government stopped its bloggers.
  • How social media analysis, crowdsourcing and digital mapping proved useful in the aftermath of Nepal's 25 April earthquake.
  • Thailand's social media wakes up after the arrest of 14 anti-coup students.
  • China's complicated love affair with Facebook and Twitter (both currently banned). Also, are Chinese state media organisations turning to 'click farms' to boost their Facebook fan base?
  • The website of North Korea's main daily newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, has been given a facelift.
  • Hillary Clinton has accused China of hacking into everything that doesn't move. This Global Times Editorial lays out a response and calls for greater US-China cyber cooperation.
  • Prime Minister Modi maps out a digital future for India characterised by greater internet connectivity and the dream of an electronics manufacturing sector. Follow @_DigitalIndia for official updates.
  • Why China's draft cybersecurity law will have chilling implications for the internet and multinationals.
  • The mobile health apps making waves in Southeast Asia.
  • The 2015 Pacific Games, held in Port Moresby PNG, as seen via Instagram:  

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On the first Friday of each month the Interpreter will publish Digital Diplomacy links instead of the weekly Digital Asia links. As Australian digital diplomacy strives to catch-up to the rest of the world, these links will highlight the most creative and effective ways in which countries are leveraging the Internet for foreign policy gain.

  • America's #LGBTI digital diplomacy blitz provides valuable lessons for how states – no matter their resources – should conduct coordinated digital campaigns.
  • Israel's Foreign Ministry takes a stab at the international media's coverage of Gaza in this animated video.
  • I argue it's time for Foreign Minister Bishop to champion a forward-looking strategy that commits resources and the right expertise in order to pull Australian digital diplomacy out of catch-up mode and into real-time.
  • The Pentagon's YouTube war with Russia is heating up.
  • It's this French Ambassador's (@gerardaraud) last posting and he's as senior as he can be so, as he explains to the New York Times, there's no better time to take risks.
  • How the British Embassy in Phnom Penh ran a campaign to boost awareness of the UK among youth and grew its Facebook fan base by 24,000% in one year (Australia's embassy in Cambodia isn't on Facebook).
  • Six rules for the use of smart power from UK's Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher, via his personal blog.
  • This research leverages big data to assess the state of Canadian digital diplomacy. The researchers mapped 467 official social media accounts and graphed the impact of major foreign aid campaigns.
  • Genius, a social site that allows users to comment on online content such as music and news, is attracting foreign policy actors. Current experimenters include Hillary Clinton and Turkey's Office of Public Diplomacy
  • US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter becomes the first Defence Secretary to join Facebook.
  • Australia's Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma has posted a speech he gave recently on diplomacy in the digital age on his personal blog. It's a shame our own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade hasn't created a blog so that insights such as these can be shared more widely.
  • This interview with Australia's Ambassador to the UN Gillian Bird is hard to find but worth reading, particularly her views on UN silos and fragmentation (more content for a DFAT blog).
  • The State Department's new Medium account, Foggy Bottom, encourages the public to post responses.
  • Is this Bollywood-inspired video by Germany's embassy in India a stroke of genius or totally ridiculous? Featuring the Ambassador and his partner, who have defended it, you be the judge. But with over 1 million views, there is no denying it is a triumph for German digital diplomacy (h/t Brendan):

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • Jack Ma, head of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, wants to build a 'cyber silk road' to Russia.
  • Why the influence of social media on Singapore's politics is here to stay.
  • China's anti-corruption agency has added a feature on its smartphone app so users can report official corruption in real time and upload photos as evidence. The update is already proving popular. (H/t Sam.)
  • It looks like the North Korean Government has added Instagram to the country's list of blocked social media sites. 
  • The scanning of QR codes has been a tech fail in most countries,  but not in China.
  • Allegations that South Asia's Islamist militant propaganda websites and social media accounts are promoting Islamic State at the expense of al Qaeda. 
  • Perhaps coinciding with President Xi Jinping's visit to China's first big data exchange, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has called for a big data alliance to be set up for the country's One Belt-One Road initiative.  
  • Myanmar's internet may be freer than ever before but at the intersection of information, technology and politics, new hazards are emerging.
  • New research shows China far outstrips the US and Germany when it comes to industry 4.0 technology patents (4th industrial revolution), with Chinese researchers patenting wireless sensor networks, energy-efficient technologies, low-cost robots and big data.
  • India's slow response to cyber warfare is under the spotlight.
  • Following the cyberattack on the US Government's Office of Personnel Management, the hunt for hacking group 'Deep Panda' intensifies
  • An emoji keyboard with 3000+ stickers, thanks to popular Japanese messaging app LINE. Foreign Minister Bishop, and others interested, can download it here. And if you don't know what an emoji is:

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • A smartphone revolution in Vietnam is catapulting millions of people into the internet age.
  • There are claims that Hong Kong's activist social media culture is under threat after a series of controversial arrests.
  • Calls for a greater focus on implementing projects that use simple technology (i.e. SMS) rather than mobile apps in PNG and the Pacific Islands region.
  • Cambodia's debate on internet freedom is heating up, with human rights organisations particularly concerned about the country's new draft anti-cybercrime law.
  • Mobile apps are transforming how motorcycle taxis operate in Jakarta.
  • This blog details five years of – apparently successful – cyber espionage that targeted countries, and their various governmental organisations, involved in the South China Sea (full report here).
  • Buoyed by mobile internet growth, digital ad spending in Southeast Asia is booming (i.e. 80% increase in Indonesia expected this year). However, poor infrastructure and a lack of skills in mobile development is holding back the market.
  • Following protests sparked by private car ride-sharing apps, China's state media has disappointing news for Uber fans.
  • Will higher taxes on 2G mobile handsets move Indonesians to 4G within the next few years?
  • Controversial Facebook initiative Internet.org has arrived in Pakistan. Some are sceptical, but others are welcoming the initiative with open arms. One person has even taken to billboarding his gratitude.
  • Outside of Asia, (exploiting) selfies from Russian troops in Ukraine serves as a a striking reminder of the value of open-source intelligence (note: this video contains graphic content at the beginning)

 

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Last week the Lowy Institute hosted a speech by Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. If you haven't already listened to it, you can do so here. It's worth staying tuned for the Q&A where Bishop skilfully handled a number of tough questions.

The speech itself was rather simple. The Foreign Minister told of how she interprets Australian soft power, outlining a number of Government initiatives intended to help project this power (including what is becoming a favoured soft power tool, and one with replication potential, koala diplomacy). The Australian aid program, currently under fire for its lack of transparency, was described as a 'vital aspect' of Australian soft power, with Bishop's innovationXchange initiative getting significant attention.

The Australian consulate in Hong Kong's Facebook page did not mention the Tiananmen anniversary. The Australian embassy in Cambodia is not on Facebook.

But in a speech on Australian soft power which was characterised by themes such as innovation, reform, technology, ideas and modernisation, there was one startling omission: digital diplomacy.

A decade ago this would have gone unnoticed. Even five years ago this exclusion wouldn't have been unusual, but would likely be picked up. Today however, international relations is increasingly characterised by state and non-state actors wrestling for online influence. So failing to even mention, let alone outline, Australia's plans for digital diplomacy was particularly strange, further illustrated by the fact that none of the social media accounts available to the Foreign Minister (DFAT now has over 100) communicated her speech in real-time. Nor was there a coordinated effort to engage with this large online network on the policies and initiatives raised in the Minister's speech.

Bishop missed a huge opportunity. In a major speech on soft power, digital diplomacy wasn't discussed and digital diplomacy didn't occur.

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This oversight is particularly worrying for two reasons. Firstly, it renders the Foreign Minister's vision for Australian soft power incomplete, because the options available to the Government to influence key stakeholders, including on initiatives raised in Bishop's speech, are entirely inadequate. For example, how can the Government's economic diplomacy policy reach its full potential when the Government is not yet effectively using the internet to promote and discuss the policy, or to identify and engage with potential beneficiaries of the policy.

Secondly, the omission could be taken to suggest that the Foreign Minister and her office give little thought to how the growth of internet access and mobile telephony is transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the Asia Pacific, and how internationally-focused government agencies — from intelligence to defence to diplomacy – need to adjust. Australia is already far behind most countries, including the US, UK, India, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Sweden and Israel (just to name a few), who are all excelling in the digital diplomacy space. Unlike Australia, these countries have invested serious resources, and they have plenty to show for this investment.

Most of these countries have formed dedicated digital diplomacy units and are executing long-term strategies. They unleashed their diplomats on social media years ago (not just ambassadors) and are developing new ties with global tech companies (much like public-private partnerships) to help propel their efforts. They have diversified their reach beyond social media through multilingual podcasts and blogs (even Tanzania's diplomatic corps has a blog!). They are working through various methods of reaching and influencing different audiences. Their foreign ministries are experimenting with new online tools (like live-streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat) and different ways of connecting with people in order to assess which tools and methods best suit their needs.

It is worth noting that the Foreign Minister's recent silence on digital diplomacy is a new development. In 2011, as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bishop wrote an op-ed on the power of social media and the critical role new media played in the Arab Spring and President Obama's political campaigns. The same year she praised US digital diplomacy in Indonesia and discussed opportunities for Australia in using new media tools to engage with grassroots communities. In 2014 it seemed a digital diplomacy strategy was taking shape when the Foreign Minister announced, in reference to the Australia Network's $22 million budget, that the Government could find more effective ways to promote Australia.

One year on, Australia finds itself with more social media accounts but stuck in a cycle of broadcasting rather than influencing. These accounts rarely sway from safe and light-hearted topics such as koalas, food, studying and holidaying. As I have said before, these are not unimportant topics. But because of the risk-averse nature of Australia's online diplomacy, we are not seeing the kinds of power and influence we should expect from our overseas representatives. Instead, the Australian Government is projecting a meek global voice while our peers use the same tools to stamp their views and position their policy on current events. This is in stark contrast to the strong international voice the Foreign Minister referenced in her Lowy speech and completely at odds with how Australian diplomacy is conducted offline.

In today's internet-drenched world, the Foreign Minister must turn her mind to digital diplomacy. 20,000 visitors might have witnessed koala diplomacy at Singapore Zoo, but this figure pales in comparison to the almost 1.3 million social media followers DFAT has amassed over the last few years through its posts and ambassadors (not including the unexploited Australian Aid account).

The potential of these accounts is enormous. With each 'like' and re-tweet, the Australian Government exposes its content to new audiences. A coordinated and creative online effort could see the Australian Government's koala diplomacy initiative reach tens of millions of people around the world instead of just thousands. But before that can happen, the Foreign Minister needs to capitalise on the growing momentum in her Department and champion a forward-thinking digital diplomacy strategy that commits resources and helps her to find the right expertise. Only then can she pull Australian digital diplomacy out of catch-up mode and into real-time.

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • A National Geographic photographer captured his recent trip to North Korea via Twitter’s live video Periscope app. The results are extraordinary.
  • Local volunteerism and online collaboration is shaking up the status quo in Nepal following the country’s devastating earthquake.
  • What Silicon Valley can learn from Seoul
  • China's cyber police are coming out 'from behind the curtains' and joining social media. With more than 25 accounts from Shanghai to Xinjiang and Tibet launched on Weibo so far, the move seems designed to encourage citizen reporting and will almost certainly tighten the state’s control over the internet.
  • New technologies are providing tools for empowerment, yet democracy is stagnating. What’s up?
  • 478 million people in China listen to music online but companies aren't making much money. Chinese internet giant Tencent is planning to change that.
  • How the internet has exacerbated the tug of war over Thailand’s cultural values: one feature in this NY Times Magazine piece on digital imperialism.
  • As the death toll from a capsized cruise ship on China's Yangtze River continues to climb amid strict online censorship, some Chinese netizens are angry at how local media is glorifying 'handsome' rescuers.
  • India's first advertisement featuring a lesbian couple is making waves on social media, with the video raking up more than 3 million views in 10 days.
  • Indonesia is using drones to catch tax cheats. (H/t @JohnMGooding.)
  • Investigators have admitted Chinese hackers may have obtained the names of Chinese citizens with ties to US officials. While the compromised data wasn't encrypted, officials have argued the attacks were so sophisticated, encryption might have made no difference.
  • Trending hashtags #DespiteBeingAWoman and #SırtımızıDönüyoruz ('we are turning our backs') are taking aim at alleged sexist remarks made by India's prime minister and Turkey's president:

[Taken from the Facebook page of the Indian National Congress]

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On the first Friday of each month The Interpreter will publish Digital Diplomacy links instead of the weekly Digital Asia links. As Australian digital diplomacy strives to catch up to the rest of the world, these links will highlight the most creative and effective ways countries are leveraging the internet for foreign policy gain.

  • The increasing popularity of Chinese social media channels is impacting on how foreign missions approach digital diplomacy. 
  • A review of the online approaches taken by India, the US, UK and Canada  in  response to the earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April.  
  • Governments (and individuals) are not immune to widespread online practices such as retaliation attacks, planting deliberate disinformation and trolling. So which state trolls best? Right now, the Russians. (H/t Sam.)
  • This interview with the head of Israel's digital diplomacy unit provides a fascinating insight into some of the campaigns, tactics and strategies employed by Israel to influence stakeholders and public opinion. 
  • President Obama (@POTUS) officially joined Twitter last month. This is what attracting one million users in five hours looks like.
  • The Government of Finland, with a think-tank from the Netherlands, held a seminar on digital diplomacy earlier this week. Watch it here and catch up on the discussion via #DigitalAgeDiplo. 
  • Buoyed by the new addition of Indian Prime Minister Modi, the Global Times heralds a new era of 'Weibo diplomacy' in China. Which foreign ministry has the most Weibo followers? Apparently Canada.
  • Despite the attention surrounding Modi's new Weibo account (the good, bad and the selfie) it's worth noting that there are only five  current or former leaders are on Weibo, while 75% of the world's leaders are on Twitter.
  • What is the major challenge for Egyptian digital diplomacy? How to communicate effectively after four years of constant regime change.
  • The US is using Twitter to fight Islamic State propaganda through internet memes. (H/t Jack.) 
  • The French Foreign Ministry's web unit uses the Ministry's blog to explain its role in the country's digital diplomacy efforts.
  • Canadian Foreign Minister Baird's self-declared passion for digital diplomacy has facilitated a social media explosion and new ties with global tech companies. But Canada's Foreign Ministry is under fire domestically for its lack of strategy and for broadcasting rather than engaging. 

 

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The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic digital landscape in the world, home to the fastest adopters of new technologies and the largest concentration of mobile and social media users. An escalation in online activism, changing cyber dynamics, developments in digital diplomacy and the exploitation of big data are shaping the region's engagement with the world.

  • Why are China's largest tech companies investing in America's hottest startups? It's about Smartphones.
  • This article claims Facebook is becoming a hotbed of anti-migrant sentiment in Southeast Asia.
  • China's Ministry of Defence has opened official accounts on Weibo and WeChat. Both accounts are providing live updates on the release of China's defence white paper and have promised to provide detail on ministry polices, military construction and cooperation initiatives.
  • South Korea has been ranked no.1 in global mobile app use (the most widely used being KakaoTalk), with smartphone users spending more than half their time on social media and chat apps.
  • South Korea's love affair with mobile apps may not carry into the next generation, after the Government announced telecom companies must install spying apps on all mobiles used by those under 18 years.
  • Large internet companies in China employ 'porn identification officers'. China's Global Times has a neat infographic explaining what these officers actually do.
  • The era of Internet memes has arrived in Myanmar. (H/t Asia Digital Life project.)
  • A researcher and statistician from the French Government's aid agency has written an interesting blog post looking at whether big data and mobile data can really serve the world's poorest.
  • At the inaugural Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Shanghai this week Asian tech companies have been laying out their vision for the 'internet of things'.
  • Behind the scenes at the CES, there are alleged complaints about Chinese copycat products (spurring the acronym 'C2C' – Copy2China). But do Chinese copycat companies actually succeed?
  • If the global 'selfie' obsession makes you mad, the latest trend in Asia — the Selfie (iced) coffee — might push you over the edge. Using a special printer and edible ink, cafes in Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore are offering customers the chance to view themselves in their coffee before drinking themselves up. (h/t Steph.)
  • A student at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China has produced a great animated video about the harmful effects of smartphone addiction: 

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