John Power

John Power

Reporter, Asia

John is a contributor to Inkstone. He is a reporter for Asia Desk and This Week in Asia of the South China Morning Post.

Location
Hong Kong
Language spoken
English, Korean
Areas of Expertise
The Korean peninsula, freedom of information
How New Zealand managed to not anger China
On paper, China should loom large in New Zealand’s parliamentary elections later this month. Like its fellow Five Eyes intelligence partner Australia, claims of Chinese interference in politics shook the nation, and it has defied Beijing with its stances on Hong Kong, the Uygurs and the South China Sea.  And like its neighbor across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand relies on China more than any other country for its trade, sending it almost one-third of its exports. But in an election that is widely expected to keep Jacinda Ardern as prime minister on October 17, China has barely registered a mention. It is a reflection, in part, of how harmonious Wellington has managed to keep relations with Bei
Skepticism of China is pushing this island toward an independence vote
When China officially opened its embassy to the Solomon Islands on Monday, exactly a year after wooing the Pacific Island nation away from Taiwan, there were smiles all around. During an opening ceremony in the capital Honiara, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the diplomatic switch to Beijing had been the “right thing to do” and put the archipelago of about 690,000 people on the “right side of history.” At the same moment about 60 miles away – authorities in Malaita, the most populous of the country’s nine provinces – were in the middle of preparations for an independence referendum fueled by growing suspicion and acrimony toward China. The planned vote, which Malaita’s
The downward spiral of Australia-China ties
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. The relations between Australian and Chinese governments have gone into a downward spiral in 2020. Over the course of less than a month in the summer of 2020, Beijing announced its second inquiry into Australian wine imports, suspended barley imports from the country’s largest grain exporter and confirmed the detention of a prominent Australian journalist. Then, the Communist Party-run tabloid Global Times on August 31 borrowed late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew’s words to warn Australia that it risked becoming the “poor white trash of Asia” if it decoupl
Australian and Chinese journalists find themselves caught in diplomatic storm
Chinese state media has claimed that Australian intelligence agents raided the homes of Chinese journalists based in Australia as the escalating diplomatic spat between Beijing and Canberra widened into the media sphere.  The reports about the alleged June 24 searches were published hours after China’s foreign ministry confirmed that Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist working for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, was detained on suspicion of “endangering China’s national security.” Cheng has been detained since August 14. Two other Australian journalists – Bill Birtles from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review (AFR) – fled China
What is going on with Kim Jong-un, and is his sister taking charge?
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Rumors over North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s health have swirled this year, and the latest is that he has given his sister, Kim Yo-jong, partial authority over the country to ease his workload. But long-time observers have raised skepticism over these claims, pointing out no one has a full grasp of the situation in North Korea. Pyongyang’s stability is a concern for the world because its stockpile of nuclear warheads could grow to 100 by the year’s end, and the struggle to read the signals continues. Was Kim Jong-un really on the verge of death? Kim’s he
US-China military clash is possible before presidential vote, says ex-Australia PM
The former Australian prime minister has warned of the growing risk of military conflict between China and the United States amid rising nationalism in both countries in the run-up to the US presidential election. Kevin Rudd, who led Australia from 2007 to 2010 and again for three months in 2013, said on Thursday that a build-up of Chinese and US forces in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait raised the possibility of a “conflict through miscalculation and escalation” ahead of the November 3 vote. “There’s a real danger that with a collapsing diplomatic relationship ... if you have an incident of a ship colliding with another ship, an aircraft colliding with another aircraft … then you have
‘Chinese diplomatic failure’ as Australia’s dovish voices fall silent
When Australia first proposed an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which would send relations with China to their lowest ebb in years, reaction at home was mixed. Kerry Stokes, one of the country’s richest tycoons, used a front-page interview in the West Australian newspaper he owns to warn against poking “our biggest provider of income in the eye,” while mining magnate Andrew Forrest called for any investigation to be delayed. Former foreign ministers Bob Carr and Gareth Evans criticized the government for creating unnecessary tensions by turning an otherwise reasonable search for answers into a public spectacle, instead of engaging in quiet diplomacy. In t
Could Asian anti-vaxers harm coronavirus fight?
If a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, governments around the world will have to manufacture it on a massive scale and distribute it to billions of people. But in parts of Asia they may also have to overcome growing anti-vaccine sentiment – an increasing concern in a region known for its high vaccination rates. More than 85% of people across Asia believe vaccines to be safe, according to a 2018 survey by Wellcome Global Monitor, higher than any other region. Vaccination rates for the region are high overall, according to World Health Organization data, with coverage for diseases such as tuberculosis, whooping cough and tetanus surpassing 90%. But controversies involving specific vaccin
US ‘suspected of dossier leak’ as Australia cools on Wuhan lab theory
There are signs of a growing split between Australia and the United States over an unproven theory that the coronavirus came from a Wuhan laboratory, amid claims the US embassy may have leaked a dossier linked to the allegations. According to Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), Australia’s government fears the Donald Trump administration’s promotion of the lab theory could undermine its call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic and a ban on the sale of exotic live animals. “The Americans pushing the lab theory kind of discredits that initiative,” said Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. “It prejudges it, which in a way c
Tracking apps could help stop coronavirus. But will people buy in?
As countries look to safely ease the coronavirus lockdowns that have crippled economic and social life, authorities around the world are seeking to strike a bargain with their citizens: a quicker return to normal life in return for embracing smartphone apps that streamline the business of contact tracing. But these digital tools remain largely untested and raise questions about privacy. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called on the public to download such an app “as a matter of national service,” comparing it to the sale of wartime bonds to support the military efforts. Australia launched COVIDSafe on Sunday, attracting more than 2 million downloads within 24 hours. Singapore