Assignment Asia

Protecting Endangered Wildlife

This edition of Assignment Asia takes you to the seas of the Philippines and the forests of Indonesia to highlight issues concerning the region's fragile wildlife. Whale shark tourism is a growing industry in the Philippines. It attracts thousands of visitors and generates millions of dollars in income every year. But environmentalists criticize the practice, saying excessive interaction with humans and the feeding of whale sharks are harming the endangered species. Reporter Barnaby Lo travels to Oslob and Donsol, two coastal towns with different ways of giving people close encounters with the gentle giants of the sea. The name "orangutan" literally means person of the forest. Yet in Indonesia, orangutans have lost their homes to deforestation over the years, and many have fallen victim to poachers. Faced with this problem, a nonprofit group has been rescuing orangutans and giving them refuge before releasing them into the wild. Reporter Silkina Ahluwalia goes to East Kalimantan on Borneo island, where rescued orangutans are having a new lease on life.

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Courage

The first episode of this series of "Assignment Asia" profiles people who if nothing else display courage in their everyday life/tells stories about courage, from the gleaming skyscrapers of Shanghai to the farmlands of the Lao countryside. First we go to the gleaming skyscrapers of Shanghai to discover a people whose lives are less than "gleaming." For Shanghai depends for its growth on the cheap labor of migrant workers. Reporter Han Bin takes high above the city to meet the workers who endure lives away from their loved ones to earn a living away from the poverty in their hometowns.

Inside Zaatari

As the civil war in their country rages on, the future remains uncertain for some 80,000 Syrians in Jordan's Zaatari camp, one of the world's largest refugee settlements. An informal economy thrives as people try to bring normalcy to their lives, but it remains a heavily guarded camp where their movements are limited. Reporter Stephanie Freid shows viewers a slice of life at Zaatari camp, where refugees struggle to move on with their lives while bearing the trauma of war. This film won the 2017 Silver World Prize of the New York Festival International Television Awards.

Festivals

From the mountains of northern Pakistan to rodeo arenas in the central Philippines, this edition features festivals in Asia that are gaining popularity. With a history of terrorism and instability, Pakistan's northern region used to be an unlikely place for festivities. Today, however, an equestrian festival is attracting thousands of tourists ever year and exposing the region's natural beauty. Reporter Danial Khan traveled to Shandur, the so-called "roof of the world", to witness how polo is not only boosting tourism but also helping the region shed its troubled past.

Xinjiang: The Pains and Gains of Development

China is developing rapidly, fueled by decades of economic growth. But perhaps nowhere in the country is the process more complicated than in the far northwester region of Xinjiang, where the changes have affected people's long-held beliefs and traditions. Reporter Han Bin puts the spotlight on Xinjiang, where people are experiencing both the pains and the gains of development.