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4 January 2019

Policy Forum published more than 300 fantastic articles this year on a huge range of public policy issues from all around the world. We’ve loved the range of topics, and the passion and expertise of our authors. Our readers have too, and here are ten of our best-read from 2018 on the site.

10. Terry Waite: Freedom and forgiveness

More on this: Freedom and forgiveness
Terry Waite was a global story when he was taken hostage and held captive for five years, during which he was held in solitary confinement and subjected to brutal treatment.

In this piece, based on his powerful and moving Policy Forum Pod interview, he talks about his experience and how being held captive has freed him to see the world in a new way.


9. Let’s stop pretending democracies keep the world safe: Isaac Kfir

More on this: Populism is eroding the moral high ground
Leaders such as Trump, Erdogan, Orbán and Duterte are using the democratic process to threaten international peace and security as they seek to institute an imagined golden age.”

Isaac Kfir’s great piece took a look at how populist leaders in the west are exploiting history to challenge liberal democratic norms, and argued that to pretend they do otherwise is the real threat to international peace and security.


8. China’s cyber sovereignty: paper tiger or rising dragon: Scott Shackelford

More on this: Paper tiger or rising dragon?
“Already, China represents more than 20 per cent of global Internet users. If its philosophy of cyber sovereignty is even more widely enacted, many of us could one day find ourselves living behind the equivalent of the Great Firewall of China.”

In this terrific piece written in the wake of the 2017 World Internet Conference, Scott Shackelford took at a look at how China wants to reshape the world’s Internet in its own image.


7. An open letter from concerned scholars of China and the Chinese diaspora

More on this: An open letter from concerned scholars of China
“Instead of a narrative of an Australian society in which the presence of China is being felt to a greater degree in a series of disparate fields, we are witnessing the creation of a racialised narrative of a vast official Chinese conspiracy.”

This powerful open letter, signed by a group of 30 scholars of China and the Chinese diaspora, detailed a range of concerns around Australia’s national security laws. In particular, the authors expressed concern about the tone of public discussion of China.


6. China’s influence in Australia: maintaining the debate

More on this: China's influence in Australia: maintaining the debate
Alarmist and racist sentiments will exist at the fringes of any debate that touches on ethnic-minority communities, but they do not define the valuable discussion underway about CCP interference in Australia.”

Hot on the heels of the open letter from concerned scholars of China came this response in the form of another letter signed by a different group of scholars. This letter, also compelling in its arguments, expressed deep concern about reports about the Chinese Communist Party’s interference in Australia, and argued that an open debate on the issues is essential.


5. What will China’s World Cup look like? Simon Chadwick

More on this: What will China's World Cup look like?
For the last few years on Policy Forum and in the South China Morning Post, Simon Chadwick has been brilliantly chronicling the rapid development of football in our region, and how it is manifesting in the policy and geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific.

A particular focus of his work has been on China’s push to become a global soccer superpower. In this piece, he takes a look at the inevitability of a future Chinese World Cup tournament, and what that means for the world game.


4. China’s big brother smart cities: Fan Yang

More on this: China's Big Brother smart cities
In China, smart tech is tackling everything from resource management to traffic congestion and welfare systems and all points between. It’s also being used for a ‘social credit system’ for Chinese citizens.

In this excellent piece, based on her article in the Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies journal, Fan Yang asks whether China’s smart city campaigns are as benign as they claim to be.


3. Nuclear-free Korea will struggle for energy: Sanghyun Hong

More on this: Nuclear-free Korea will struggle for energy
The bad news is that if nuclear power is to be phased out, the only realistic pathways laid before South Korea are regrettable. The public rejection of nuclear power may lead its future energy mix down one of these pathways.”

The Korean Government’s energy roadmap has put the country’s electricity sector at a crossroads. And if the public rejects the idea of nuclear power, and renewable energy can’t fill the entire electricity demand, what options does the country have left? In this piece, again based on the author’s article in Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, Sanghyun Hong takes a look at fundamental questions forcing South Korea “to face an inconvenient truth”.


2. When is it okay for the government to hack your mobile? Michelle Mosey & Adam Henschke

More on this: When is it okay for the government to hack your mobile?
“Strong encryption has many legitimate uses, including protecting private communication and securing essential government and commercial activities. However, it is also very often used to hide criminal and terrorist activities. In response, government agencies are seeking to decrypt devices, however on the basis of unclear legal guidelines and outdated legislation.”

Finding a balance between privacy and security is an increasingly important question in an age of encrypted communications. In this piece, based on an ANU National Security College Policy Options Paper, Michelle Mosey and Adam Henschke argue that sophisticated decryption technologies available to law enforcement agencies require defined thresholds in law.


1. Is the Australian economy too simple? Andrew Leigh

More on this: Is the Australian economy too simple?
“For the economy as a whole, it’s vital not just to think about how to lift up the best performers, but also how to improve the quality of the economic ecosystem. The complexity approach isn’t perfect, but it is a reminder that we have a lot of our national eggs in just a few baskets. Or, if you prefer the more literary metaphor – we have too few Scrabble letters.”

Yes, we get it. We love reading Andrew Leigh’s writing on economics as well! In this very nicely written and persuasively argued piece Australia’s Shadow Assistant Treasurer (and a former ANU academic) makes the case that economic complexity could help Australia prepare for technological upheaval, and that there’s no global social safety net for the country that puts all its economic eggs in the wrong basket.

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