16 September 2016

Each fortnight on the Policy File we round-up some essential weekend policy reading from around the web. This week we look at the wrap up from the G20, the 15 year anniversary of September 11, and rising tensions in the East China Sea.

The G20 summit was held in China on 4-5 September, attracting leaders of the world’s most powerful countries and plenty of international attention. John Kirton explains how the G20 achieved some notable successes, but failed to be the historic event the world needs. The Sydney Morning Herald takes a look at the G20 in the context of Obama’s pivot to Asia, and what the future of US-China relations might mean for Australia.

On his way to meet world leaders at the G20, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte seemed to insult US President Obama over American criticism of Philippine human rights abuses. At New Mandala, Emerson Sanchez makes the case that a civil-society led truth commission in the Philippines could use human rights to win Duterte’s war on drugs. At the Wall Street Journal, Trefor Moss reports on the regional fallout from Duterte’s recent anti-American outbursts and adoption of a more conciliatory tone towards Beijing on the South China Sea.

The Myanmar government has appointed former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lead a commission into the humanitarian crisis in the country’s troubled Rakhine State. On Policy Forum, Hunter Marston welcomes the attention this will bring Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, but warns there are many reasons for pessimism, while Ronan Lee argues that the Rohingya’s human rights situation needs to be addressed today, not six months down the track. The New York Times argues that the Obama Administration should not rush to lift the remaining sanctions on Myanmar.

On 9 September North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test, prompting swift international condemnation. At the Council of Foreign Relations, Scott Snyder surveys the international response to the test and the strategic dynamics of the Korea Peninsular. At The Diplomat, Peter Harrell argues that economic sanctions are not enough to deal with the issue, and that the international community must revitalise its diplomatic approach to the Hermit Kingdom.

Sunday marked 15 years since two hijacked passenger airliners crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York as part of the September 11 terrorist attacks. At The National Interest, Paul Pillar assesses the legacy of the attacks, and argues the biggest impact came not through the attacks themselves, but rather the response to it. At Esquire, Tom Junod tells the chilling yet poignant story behind the famous image of the “falling man”, who was captured hurtling from the burning North tower, and the struggles of a nation to come to terms with the horror of that day.

After China conducted naval exercises in the Sea of Japan last month, Sino-Japanese tensions are spiking over disputed ownership of the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. On Policy Forum, Godfrey Baldacchino takes a look at the options available to solve this low-key but potentially explosive confrontation, while J Berkshire Miller argues China’s moves are more about fending off Japanese involvement in the South China Sea dispute. At Eurasia Review, Tan Ming Hui and Lee Ying Hui look at the possibilities for stronger cooperation between Japan and the Philippines in the face of strident Chinese foreign policy.

Finally the webcomic ‘xckd’, created by former NASA employee Randall Munroe, has been making the rounds on the internet for producing a vertical timeline of changes to the earth’s temperature since the last ice age, with frightening implications for the world’s failure to act on climate change.

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