7 April 2017

On the regular Policy File we round-up some essential weekend policy reading from around the web. This time around we look at US funding cuts to the UNFPA, Trump’s meeting with Xi Jinping, and a deadly chemical attack in Syria.

The United States has announced it is pulling funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). On Quartz, Annalisa Merelli writes that the issue of coerced abortions in China – the Trump Administration’s stated justification for the move – could actually worsen under cuts to the UNFPA. On CNN, Caroline Kuo writes that defunding the UNFPA is just the latest of several Trump policy decisions undermining the health of girls and women worldwide. To hear more about the work of the UNFPA, check out Policy Forum’s recent podcast interview with its Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.

As Trump hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at his resort in Florida this week, James Holmes on The National Interest provides a list of five things Trump should anticipate when it comes to dealing with the Chinese. On Politico, Charles Edel and Mira Rapp-Hooper write that early signs indicate that Xi will run the table, while Ely Ratner from the Council on Foreign Relations argues that by giving President Xi VIP treatment, Trump has already misstepped.

On the topic of China, Australia’s Turnbull Government has found itself in hot water after scrapping an extradition treaty with Beijing just days after a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The Economist writes on how the stalled treaty highlights Australia’s broader geopolitical dilemma. On Policy Forum, Stephen Tully weighs up the legal debates behind extradition, while at South China Morning Post, Alex Lo points out the double standard at work when it comes to extradition treaties with China.

In recent weeks Papua New Guinea made an unexpected request for Australia to convert its entire annual aid program for the country into a direct transfer into the PNG budget. On DevPolicy Blog, Sam Koim takes a look at the delicate balance Australia must walk in managing its relationship with PNG on the issue. Meanwhile, The Age argues that given its history with its northern neighbour, Australia owes PNG more than just charity.

A gas attack in Syria killing more than 70 people has provoked international condemnation. Writing for The Atlantic, Thanassis Cambanis speculates on the motive behind this latest use of chemical weapons, while Praveen Swami at The Indian Express asks why chemical attacks are considered taboo in a war in which half a million people have been killed by conventional weapons. At The Daily Beast, Christopher Dickey argues that Obama was right to abandon his ‘red line’ on Syria’s chemical weapons. Meanwhile, on Policy Forum, Daniel Fazio takes a look at the chemical weapons threat posed by the ‘gangster state’ in North Korea.

Indonesia has just wrapped up the largest tax amnesty in history, swelling coffers by around US$8 billion. On Policy Forum, Jonathan Farrar writes that the amnesty may come with a hidden price tag. At New Mandala, Natasha Hamilton-Hart and Günther Schulze take a look at the tax amnesty in the context of Indonesia’s declining revenues. Writing for Asia Times, John McBeth argues that the episode has shone a harsh light on the pervasiveness of corruption in the country.

Want more for your weekend? You can catch up with our Policy Forum podcast here, or via iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud. If you like what you hear, please give us a review on iTunes and help us get the word out.

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