29 January 2016

Each week on the Policy File we round up essential weekend policy reading from around the web. This week we look at the South China Sea, China’s economic uncertainties, Myanmar’s path to democracy and more.

2015 was an eventful year in the South China Sea, with the continuing development of artificial islands and maritime clashes between China and the United States adding to already simmering tensions. But despite the chorus of disapproval in the region and beyond, would China still consider 2015 a success in regards to its South China Sea policy? On Policy Forum Yun Sun says from a Chinese perspective the country ended 2015 with a strong, dominant and powerful presence in the South China Sea – which was just what the country wanted.

Yağmur Erşan from Eurasia Review provides further analysis on conflicting interests in the South China Sea, focusing on the US military presence, while the International Crisis Group consider the role of oil trade and multi-country relations in the disputed area. The National Bureau of Asian Research, meanwhile, presents a digital roundtable of articles discussing non-claimant perspectives on the South China Sea disputes, including pieces looking at India’s strategic stakes and Japan’s perceptions.

In China the economy seems to be on a rollercoaster of uncertainty, but what should policymakers read into the economic wobbles? John Hewson looks at China’s struggle to cope with a slowing economy and considers what the global implications could be. The Economist takes a look at the challenges the country’s leaders face with unappealing exchange-rate options, while Matt O’Brien at the Washington Post asks whether what’s happening in China could trigger a global crisis. The National Interest says the key to understanding what is happening in China is to look at its politics.

Despite landmark elections last year, Myanmar is still facing challenges on the path to democracy. In the new issue of Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, Trevor Wilson looks at the strategic choices for Myanmar’s national security policies in the midst of democratic transition.

Over on New Mandala Hnin Wint Naing says alliances are key if Aung San Suu Kyi is to be successful in leading Myanmar’s transition to a democratic society, while Sara Davis says women are an important part of Myanmar’s democratic transition and asks whether the country’s inclusive political processes will address gender equality. Cory Wright writing for The Diplomat  takes a look at the issue of Myanmar’s minority groups and their fight for sovereignty.

2015 saw the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) setting a 15-year plan to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity. But what are the big issues dominating the agenda for 2016? Lean Alfred Santos on Devex discusses four key Asia-Pacific development issues including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the climate, the SDGs and political and development realities.

Andrew Rosser and Czeslaw Tubilewicz look at emerging donors and new contests over aid policy, while Benedict Y Imbun asks whether high minimum wage levels have stifled economic growth in Papua New Guinea. Also well worth a look is the excellent new Australian Aid Tracker website from our friends at DevPolicy BlogThe site has a wealth of data, analysis and eye-catching visualisations of Australian aid.

Don’t forget, you can debate key public policy issues by joining the Asia and the Pacific Policy Society’s LinkedIn group – a closed group exclusive to Society Members. Be part of the conversation – we’ll see you there.

Enjoy your weekend!

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