Owen Churchill

Owen Churchill

US correspondent 

Owen is a contributor to Inkstone. He is a US correspondent for the South China Morning Post based in Washington DC.

Location
Washington, DC
Language spoken
English, Mandarin
Areas of Expertise
Human rights, US-China relations, China's influence overseas
China warns US cut to WHO funding weakens global coronavirus response
China has denounced Washington’s plan to suspend funding to the World Health Organization, saying it would weaken the coordinated effort needed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that Beijing was concerned about the Trump administration’s announcement to withhold funding to the global health agency over alleged missteps it made in responding to the coronavirus outbreak in China.  “The decision of the US will weaken the WHO’s ability to handle the pandemic, especially the nations whose capabilities are not well developed,” Zhao said. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the US would suspend funding to the WHO for a planned 60-
US military requests $20 billion to counter China
American military officials have requested an additional $20 billion in funding from legislators to fortify the country’s naval, airborne and ground-based operations in the Indo-Pacific region. The new funding request is a sign of Washington’s intensifying efforts to counter China’s military presence in the Pacific.  “Without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant US interests,” read an executive summary of the request obtained by Breaking Defence, a military news outlet that first reported the move. The request by the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Command for funding, which would last through financial year 2026,
China’s fentanyl vendors are now peddling unproven coronavirus drugs
Once a flashpoint in US-China relations over the sale of synthetic opioids and their precursors, online drug vendors in China are pivoting to other white powdered substances: unproven treatments for Covid-19. Chemical vendors on social media and e-commerce platforms are responding to surging demand for antiviral medication like chloroquine and remdesivir. They are exploiting the wave of hope propelled by as-yet inconclusive trials and US President Donald Trump’s repeated promotions of the drugs.  Both drugs – long-time treatments of malaria that are yet to be clinically proven in the US as safe and effective on Covid-19 patients – are already being hoarded around the world and used for self-
Trump stops calling coronavirus ‘Chinese virus’ after using the term 16 times
President Donald Trump on Monday stopped referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and called for the protection of Asian-Americans. “It’s very important that we totally protect our Asian-American community in the United States and all around the world,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “They’re amazing people and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way shape or form,” he said.  Trump’s shift in tone was abrupt, having called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” at least once every day since March 17 – a reference that was made at least eight times on Twitter and another eight times in the White House. Asked in the briefing why he stopped using the term, Trump
Uygurs abroad in mental health crisis over plight of relatives in Xinjiang
Several years ago, Ilshat Hassan contemplated buying a gun. He was receiving threats over the phone and online from people who took issue with his advocacy for the Uygur people, he says, and feared for the safety of his family. But his wife objected, and Hassan eventually abandoned the idea. They were both scared of the possibility that the state of his mental health could one day cause him to turn the firearm on himself. “Hurting myself,” says Hassan, an IT professional living in Virginia. “That was my concern.” Struggling with anxiety and depression, the 58-year-old is just one of many members of the Uygur diaspora who say their mental health is in crisis, triggered or exacerbated by the s
Chinese military personnel charged for massive Equifax hack
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged four members of the Chinese military over a 2017 hacking into one of America’s largest credit reporting agencies and stealing the personal data of around half of all US citizens. The alleged hack of Atlanta-headquartered Equifax also allowed the hackers, determined by the DOJ to be members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to obtain trade secrets related to the company’s database designs. “This was an organized and remarkably brazen criminal heist of sensitive information of nearly half of all Americans,” US General Attorney William Barr, unveiling the nine-count indictment, said on Monday. The four individuals alleged to have committed th
Winning ‘the lottery’: American recounts airlift out of Wuhan
Ningxi Xu first heard about the outbreak of an unknown pneumonia-like disease in China from a fellow plane passenger, hours before she was set to land in Wuhan to spend the Lunar New Year with her family. Xu, 30, brushed it off. It couldn’t have been a big issue as she hadn’t yet seen anything in the news, she reasoned. But from the moment her father picked her up from the airport wearing a face mask, her perception of the situation began to shift. Wuhan’s streets grew empty. Reports of people contracting the disease flooded her phone daily. News of family friends falling ill reached their home. As of Monday, more than 910 people have been killed by the new coronavirus, and Xu now finds hers
WHO declares coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global public health emergency over the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus on Thursday, citing the potential of the virus to spread to countries not prepared to deal with the contagion. Declaring the public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized multiple times during a press conference in Geneva that the move was not “a vote of no confidence” in China’s ability to control the outbreak. The latest PHEIC is only the WHO’s sixth since the UN agency was given the power to make such declarations in 2005. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries wit
Trade war: US and China said to agree on interim deal
The US and China have reached consensus on the terms of a “phase one” trade deal, multiple US media outlets have reported. Intended to be the first in a series of incremental agreements to resolve the trade war, the deal has the approval of US President Donald Trump, Bloomberg reported, citing several unnamed people briefed on the matter. As part of the agreement, the US would not only postpone tariffs on around $160 billion of Chinese goods scheduled to go into effect on Sunday, but also make cuts in duties already in place, Myron Brilliant of the US Chamber of Commerce told CNBC, citing US administration sources who had briefed him on the plans. Neither the White House nor the Office of th
US lawmakers not swayed by China's Xinjiang policy defense
As Beijing steps up its defense of its mass internment measures targeting Muslims in China’s far west, one key target of its messaging campaign remains decidedly unconvinced: the US Congress. On Monday, representatives of the regional government in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said that all “trainees” in what China calls vocational training centers have “graduated” and found stable employment. Foreign governments and international human rights watchdogs remain skeptical of China’s efforts to ward off accusations of a campaign to forcibly bring ethnic minority groups in the region into line. And Uygurs living overseas point to silence from their relatives in Xinjiang as proof they a