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
‘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
Just how lethal is the coronavirus? South Korea may have the best answer
Within a month of confirming its first case of the new coronavirus on January 20, South Korea had tested nearly 8,000 people suspected of infection. A little over a week later, that number had soared to 82,000 as health officials mobilized to carry out as many 10,000 tests each day. (Where did the coronavirus come from? How to prevent infections? Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the coronavirus.)  Neighboring Japan, on the other hand, tested only a fraction of that number, with fewer than 2,000 people checked on any given day since the beginning of its outbreak in late January.  So far, more than 6,000 cases have been confirmed in South Korea and over 1,000 in Japan, if you include the
Iran’s coronavirus outbreak is the deadliest outside China
A spike in the number of people killed and sickened by the new coronavirus in Iran has thrust the Islamic Republic to the forefront of global concern about the virus’s spread. Iranian health officials have confirmed 61 cases and 12 deaths from the coronavirus disease Covid-19, while an official from the city of Qom, the center of the outbreak in Iran, has said the contagion killed 50 people there. Either figure would dwarf death tolls in South Korea, Japan and Italy, until now the most severely-affected countries outside China, where the disease has infected more than 77,000 people and killed 2,600. How did the virus reach Iran? After insisting as recently as last week that the country had n
The US is patrolling the South China Sea more than ever
US Navy patrols near disputed features claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea hit a record high last year, newly released figures show, as the Trump administration ramped up its efforts to challenge China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. US Navy vessels sailed within 12 nautical miles of features claimed or occupied by China seven times in 2019, according to data released by the US Pacific Fleet – the highest number of so-called freedom of navigation patrols (FONOPs) since Beijing controversially began constructing artificial islands around disputed reefs in the waterway in 2014. Washington carried out five such operations in 2018, six in 2017 – President Donald Trump’s fir
Has China outsmarted the US in the South China Sea?
Before assuming his post as commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip S Davidson issued a stark warning about Washington’s loosening grip in the fiercely contested South China Sea. “In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios, short of war with the United States,” Davidson said during a Senate confirmation hearing ahead of his appointment as the top US military official in the region in May 2018. For many analysts, the dire assessment was a long-overdue acknowledgment of their concerns. Today, there is a growing sense it did not go far enough. Washington’s strategic advantage in the waterway, which holds massive untapped oil an
Hong Kong international students torn between staying or leaving
Maya Boehm, an American exchange student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has her bags packed to fly home at a moment’s notice.  On Tuesday, St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, told the 20-year-old that she and her classmates had been summoned home to “ensure the continued safety and security of our students” after chaotic clashes the previous night between anti-government protesters and police on the campus. The religious studies major has not been given an exact timetable for her return, but she expects to be on a plane within days. “Everything is very unpredictable right now and I just have to take things not only day by day, but hour by hour,” said Boehm. “It breaks my
Once bitter rivals, US and Vietnam unite against China
Once bitter enemies, the United States and Vietnam are now increasingly united in their mutual suspicion of China’s rising clout in the South China Sea. Last month, a pilot from the Vietnam People’s Air Force became the first in his country to complete the Aviation Leadership Program at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi.  The program provides 52 weeks of flight training to pilots from US partner and developing countries. Captain Dang Duc Toai’s graduation was hailed as the fruit of a partnership between the US and Vietnam that helps “ensure peace and stability in the region and in the world,” according to Lieutenant General Steve Kwast, commander of air education and training command in