5 February 2016

Each week on the Policy File we round up some essential weekend policy reading from around the web.

This week North Korea announced plans to launch a satellite rocket into space in the latest incident to spark concern from the international community. The Economist say that the announcement is another provocation from a country that is a ‘master of braggadocio’. Peace on the Korean peninsula has been further (and bizarrely) disrupted with North Korea sending used toilet paper in balloons across the border into South Korea. The Week takes a look at the psychological warfare between the Korean neighbours.

On Policy Forum the President of Ploughshares Fund Joe Cirincione looks at North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and says that while the Hermit Kingdom isn’t going to be coerced into giving up its nukes, it could be convinced.

Staying with North Korea, a recent report by Transparency International revealed that the country has the world’s joint worst corruption score. In The Diplomat, John Power explains North Korea’s ranking and looks into South Korea’s surprisingly poor corruption rating.

Taiwan’s elections are over, with a new leader in place, but where will politics and policy direct the new government? Richard C Bush III from the Brookings Institute looks at the result and considers the implications for Taiwan and its neighbours. Chen Yo-Jung in The Diplomat looks at how Taiwan’s elections could bring opportunities for Japan, while Kevin Nealer and Margaux Fimbres in The National Bureau of Asian Research’s new issue of Asia Policy assess Taiwan’s prospects for joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Last year the World Health Organization declared Delhi’s air quality the worst in the world, and with a projected population of 36 million people by 2030, India’s megacity faces a future of megatraffic, and megapollution. On Policy Forum Asit K Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada look at the impact of pollution in the city, and what policymakers should be doing about it.

Harsimran Julka of TechinAsia takes a look at why pollution makes Uber drivers earn less in India, while The Economist says the ‘odd-even’ number plate experiment to reduce traffic on Delhi’s roads only improved Delhi’s pollution ‘slightly’ and wasn’t enough for residents in the city.

The World Health Organization has reported that the mosquito-borne Zika virus is rapidly spreading across the globe and could infect more than four million people this year alone. Derek Gatherer in the Independent looks at the rapid evolution of the virus and the research efforts behind trying to contain it, while Carolyn Kormann at the New Yorker looks at how the Zika virus can spread.

Myanmar’s new government took the reins this week with Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party (NLD) striding into parliament. Former Australian Ambassador to Myanmar, Trevor Wilson, looks at challenges the new government faces, while Nicholas Farrelly on New Mandala casts his eye over the NLD’s ‘iron-fisted gerontocracy’.

A corruption scandal in Vanuatu’s parliament has triggered snap elections in the country. Catherine Putz in The Diplomat looks at the politics of the past year and considers the hope behind a new election.

On Policy Forum, Stewart Firth looks at Melanesia as a region of increasing independence – particularly from Australia – while Joanne Wallis and Michael Wesley focus on Australia’s Melanesia policy after the ‘age of intervention’ in the new issue of Asia & the Pacific Studies. Jo Spratt on DevPolicy Blog looks at New Zealand’s development cooperation efforts in the Pacific.

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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