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Mike  Chinoy

Mike Chinoy

Former CNN Correspondent for Asia-Pacific Region


Former CNN Asia Correspondent Mike Chinoy is a Senior Fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California and the creator of the Assignment China documentary film series on the history of American correspondents in China. Read More >

Previously, Chinoy spent three years as a Senior Fellow on Asian Security at the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council on International Policy, focusing on security issues in North Korea, China and Northeast Asia. His book on North Korea, entitled Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, was published in August, 2008, and was hailed by the Washington Post as “a tour de force of reporting.” A paperback edition came out in October 2009, and a Korean language translation was published in early 2010. He was at the same time a Visiting Professor of Journalism at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Chinoy’s newest book, Are You With Me? Kevin Boyle and the Rise of the Human Rights Movement, is the biography of a man who was a founder and leader of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland and a key player in the peace process who went on to become one of the world's foremost human rights lawyers. 

Before joining the Pacific Council and USC in 2006, Chinoy spent 24 years as a foreign correspondent for CNN, including stints as a roving reporter based in London, eight years as the network’s first Bureau Chief in Beijing, Bureau Chief in Hong Kong, and, from 2001-2006, Senior Asia Correspondent, responsible for coverage throughout the Asia-Pacific Region. He began his career working for CBS News and NBC News in Hong Kong in the 1970s.

Chinoy has reported on the most important events in Asia since the mid-1970s, including the death of Mao Zedong, the “People Power” revolt in the Philippines, the Tiananmen Square crisis, the rise of China, the Hong Kong handover, the fall of Indonesian President Suharto, the Soviet and US wars in Afghanistan, the Southeast Asian tsunami, elections and political crises in Taiwan, and developments in North Korea. 

Chinoy’s access to, and understanding of, North Korea is unmatched among American journalists. He has visited North Korea 17 times since 1989. He was the only journalist to accompany former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on his historic trip to Pyongyang in 1994, and has returned regularly since then, most recently in the summer of 2013. In recent research, Chinoy has found that although in the past Hong Kong was traditionally viewed as “Asia’s World City,” being a good place to do business that was safe and efficient, this title is now gone, and potentially for good. This is due to the regular protests and heavy-handed police behavior, which could have huge implications in the future.

Chinoy is the author of the acclaimed book China Live: People Power and the Television Revolution, and has received numerous awards for his journalism, including the Emmy, Peabody and Dupont awards for his coverage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crisis, and a Dupont Award for his coverage of the tsunami. He holds a BA from Yale University and an MS from Columbia University. Read Less ^

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Being a Journalist

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Dealing with North Korea

Speech Topics

Trump & Asia: Turbulence Ahead

Donald Trump campaigned for President by denouncing China, threatening to impose punishing tariffs of Chinese goods, questioning the decades-old U.S. policy towards Taiwan, and belittling American alliances in Asia, however, the worst has not happened. Trump has backed off threats of a Sino-American trade war, endorsed the “one-China” policy, held a successful summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping. accepted an invitation to visit China later in the year, reaffirmed U.S. alliance relationships, and sent his Vice President and key cabinet officials to the region. While these reversals have brought Trump closer to traditional U.S. positions, the road ahead remains uncertain, and the risk of political or economic conflict, outright military clashes, or even full-scale war in the region remains. Trump has deliberately heightened tensions with North Korea by displays of military muscle-flexing and threats that “all options are on the table.” He has linked a reduction in Sino-American trade tensions to Beijing’s willingness to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. More broadly, Trump has failed to put forth a coherent long-term strategy for Asia. His administration remains torn between what some observers have described as the “axis of ideologues” and the “axis of adults.” Most fundamentally, Trump’s own core beliefs and values- if he has any - remain unclear. The result is continuing uncertainty about American policy in Asia, and growing anxiety about what Trump might do if and when the inevitable crisis in the region erupts.

War Clouds Over Korea

Nearly three years after succeeding his father Kim Jong II, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un remains an enigma, presiding over the most closed, opaque, and, to most outsiders, bizarre state in the world. With a million-strong army and a steadily growing nuclear and missile capability, North Korea is widely viewed as one of the most dangerous security threats in Asia. At the same time, however, North Korea’s one decrepit economy is showing signs of life, and conditions in the capital Pyongyang have improved noticeably. Despite Kim Jong Un’s almost cartoon-like image in the rest of the world, there is a discernable logic to North Korea, and to the actions of its youthful leader. In a region that has become a key driving force in the global economy, making sense of North Korea is critical to assessing the prospects for stability or conflict in Northeast Asia. Read More >

Could there be a war on the Korean peninsula?

North Korea’s steadily increasing nuclear capabilities, and the likelihood it will soon have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, combined with the Trump administration’s warnings of possible U.S. military action, have raised tensions to a level not seen in decades.

What is driving North Korea to expand its nuclear and missile program? How will the unsettled politics in South Korea affect the situation? Is China willing- or able- to pressure Pyongyang too change its policies, as the Trump administration is demanding? Will the more muscular U.S. approach serve to deter the regime of Kim Jong Un, or make an armed conflict likely? What would be the economic, strategic, and humanitarian consequences of a new Korean war?

With the Trump administration identifying North Korea as its most pressing foreign policy crisis, all these questions have taken on a new urgency.

Mike Chinoy, CNN’s former Senior Asia Correspondent and currently Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute, is uniquely placed to address these issues. He is the author of two books on North Korea, Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, and The Last POW, and has visited North Korea 17 times over the past three decades. Read Less ^

The Rise of China & the Changing Strategic Landscape in Asia

The rise of China is arguably the most important trend in the world today. In barely a generation, the People’s Republic has become an increasingly assertive global economic, diplomatic and military power. Its rise poses significant challenges for the United States and the international community. The growing “strategic distrust” between Beijing, the U.S. and China’s Asian neighbors has created a serious threat to peace, stability and security in the region, raising a host of difficult questions. Will an increasingly powerful China be a rival or a partner? How will Beijing reshape the international economy and regional and global security arrangements? Will it seek to push the U.S. back from its historically dominant role in the Asia-Pacific as it moves to reclaim China’s status as a great power? Above all, facing massive problems of income inequality, corruption, environmental degradation and political legitimacy, can China's leaders sustain their country’s ambitious rise? Or could the greatest threat turn out to be not China's success, but its potential failure?

American in Asia

Asia has six of the world's ten largest economies, seven of the ten largest militaries, six of the ten greatest consumers of energy, and six of the ten largest polluters. It will almost certainly be the world's center of gravity in the 21st century. Yet, in the United States, preoccupied by Iraq, Iran, the Middle East and domestic concerns, Asia is frequently almost an afterthought – in the government, the media, and public discussion. One result: the US is paying less attention to Asia, with a corresponding decrease in American influence, reflected in China's increasing regional clout and Washington's growing inability to shape events and protect its interests. Is the US in danger of missing out on the Asian century?