The Policy File

Your weekly round up of Asia-Pacific policy links and analysis

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22 January 2016

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

Welcome to the first Policy File of 2016 – we hope you had a good festive season and have a prosperous, pleasant and peaceful year ahead.

Peace on the Korean peninsula, however, looks a long way off, after North Korea claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, their fourth nuclear test in a decade. So how should the world deal with North Korea? Ramesh Thakur says the only realistic option for North Korea is arms control, while others such as John Carlson are calling on the international community to step up and show North Korea the power of global unification.

The Diplomat looks at the motivations behind the H-bomb test and asks whether it’s really about international bargaining leverage, while others such as Joshua Keating question whether the whole thing was an attention-grabbing hoax.

The last few months have seen some significant changes to the political culture of both Nepal and China. After seven years of waiting Nepal finalised a new constitution, but has seen it greeted with protests, political turmoil and division in the country. On Policy Forum George Varughese suggests the turmoil highlights a society struggling to move forward, while Shobhakar Parajuli from The Himalayan Times says peace will come when all Nepalese people feel part of the country’s progressive development.

China, meanwhile, has a new counter-terrorism law. But what is China aiming to tackle with the law? Michael Clarke writes that the country’s intentions are more about maintaining state security than global security. Scott N Romaniuk and Marinko Bobic, meanwhile, take a different stance and consider the new law as a war on ‘Western ideas’.

2016 has already highlighted the impact of technology on a wide range of key policy areas. On Policy Forum, Wing-Sie Cheng looks at the role of dating apps in the rise of HIV in adolescents in the region, while Marie McAuliffe looks at how apps and smartphones have brought about a global transformation in connectivity for irregular migration.

Natasha Beschorner looks beyond the smartphone and considers how greater online connectivity could create outsourcing opportunities for Pacific Island nations, while Jon Lindsay considers national security in the complexity of cyberspace.

Nearly 200 governments gathered in Paris late last year for the COP21 climate change conference. In the wake of the Paris agreement, Devpolicy Blog looks at the ongoing impact of drought and frosts in Papua New Guinea and debate the impact of coal as a key contributor to climate change. Will Steffen, meanwhile, takes a look at the proposed new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – and wonders whether it is the ultimate policy challenge.

In Delhi policymakers have attempted to curb pollution and congestion on the city’s roads with an ‘odd-even’ number plate trial. Sudakshina Gupta says the plan isn’t going to work without changes to transport infrastructure, while Megha Bahree at Forbes Asia looks at what the trial achieved – which is not much, she writes. The Indian Express, however, claim it worked and reduced hourly particulate air pollution concentrations by 10-13 per cent.

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