Anthony Kuhn

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Bejing, China, covering the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Throughout his coverage he has taken an interest in China's rich traditional culture and its impact on the current day. He has recorded the sonic calling cards of itinerant merchants in Beijing's back alleys, and the descendants of court musicians of the Tang Dynasty. He has profiled petitioners and rights lawyers struggling for justice, and educational reformers striving to change the way Chinese think.

From 2010-2013, Kuhn was NPR's Southeast Asia correspondent, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Among other stories, he explored Borneo and Sumatra, and witnessed the fight to preserve the biodiversity of the world's oldest forests. He also followed Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, as she rose from political prisoner to head of state.

During a previous tour in China from 2006-2010, Kuhn covered the Beijing Olympics, and the devastating Sichuan earthquake that preceded it. He looked at life in the heart of Lhasa, Tibet's capital, and the recovery of Japan's northeast coast after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Kuhn served as NPR's correspondent in London from 2004-2005, covering stories including the London subway bombings, and the marriage of the Prince of Wales to the Duchess of Cornwall.

Besides his major postings, Kuhn's journalistic horizons have been expanded by various short-term assignments. These produced stories including wartime black humor in Iraq, musical diplomacy by the New York Philharmonic in Pyongyang, North Korea, a kerfuffle over the plumbing in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Pakistani artists' struggle with religious extremism in Lahore, and the Syrian civil war's spillover into neighboring Lebanon.

Previous to joining NPR, Kuhn wrote for the Far Eastern Economic Review and freelanced for various news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. He majored in French Literature as an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, and later did graduate work at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing.

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With fires crackling in the peat soils, smoke billowing up and hot ash raining down just a stone's throw from his house, farmer Arif Subandi chokes up as he surveys the scene.

"Now our land is burned, our environment neglected," he says, sobbing. "Where will my children and grandchildren go?"

The 48-year-old father of five, who lives just outside the capital of Indonesia's West Kalimantan Province on Borneo, says he doesn't have enough to support his family. He's worried about local companies trying to take the land from him.

In recent winters, severe smog has blanketed northern China with a grim regularity, triggering emergency measures in scores of cities. What has been changing in recent years is how some ordinary Chinese citizens, particularly those in the growing middle class — who have the means to take action — have chosen to respond to the pollution.

The Indonesian island of Java has long been synonymous with coffee. But it's only in the past decade or so that Indonesians have begun to wake up and smell the coffee — their own, that is.

Big changes are brewing in the country's coffee industry, as demand from a rising middle class fuels entrepreneurship and connoisseurship.

The trend is clear at places like the Anomali Coffee shop in South Jakarta. It roasts its coffee just inside the entrance on the ground floor.

By returning a U.S. Navy underwater drone Tuesday that it had fished from the South China Sea last week, China appears to have laid the controversial naval encounter to rest. But the incident seems calculated to send a message to the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump about China's strategic plans in the region.

One of North Vietnam's most recognizable wartime voices fell silent last Friday, when former radio broadcaster Trinh Thi Ngo, dubbed "Hanoi Hannah" by American service members, died.

Her former employer, the government-run Voice of Vietnam, reported the news on its website Sunday. The radio service says Trinh was 87 when she died, though there are conflicting reports about the year of her birth.

For the past couple of decades, night owls with the munchies have flocked to a certain street in Beijing that is packed with all-night restaurants. The sidewalks are jammed with cars and have a perpetual patina of rancid-smelling cooking oil.

One of the trendier restaurants on the block is called A Very Long Time Ago. The decor is upscale Paleolithic, with silhouettes of cavemen traipsing across the walls. The clientele is not so fossilized. They're mostly 20-somethings who roast skewers of food over hot coals.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Autograph-seeking fans and journalists thronged China's newly minted Olympic sensation, 20-year-old swimmer Fu Yuanhui, at the Beijing airport on Tuesday.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A strict new law governing foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in China may have some groups packing up and heading home if they can't meet the law's requirements or fall afoul of police who will have increased powers to monitor and control them.

The controversial measure was passed into law on Thursday and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, affecting thousands of foreign NGOs.

For more than a generation, health experts have hailed China's vaccination program as a success in eliminating preventable diseases like polio and tetanus. Advances in the country's public health have benefited from — and enabled — rapid economic growth.

But since last month, a nationwide scandal involving the illegal resale of vaccines has dented public confidence in the program, ignited public anger at the government and added fuel to ongoing small-scale street protests by parents who believed vaccines have injured or sickened their children.

The annual session of China's legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), is an elaborate, theatrical gathering of China's rich, powerful and famous: Here you'll find generals, billionaires and movie stars — even basketball giant Yao Ming.

When he's not running the Shanghai Sharks basketball team, the ex-Houston Rockets center is a deputy to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, or CPPCC — sort of like the legislature's upper house, but without the power to approve bills.

It might seem unusual that a 16-year-old Taiwanese pop starlet could motivate legions of youth to troop to the polls and vote for the island's opposition party candidate. But she apparently did, and thereby helped Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen become Taiwan's democratically first elected female leader.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Nothing says breakfast in Myanmar more than a hot bowl of mohinga, a flavorful fish soup with rice vermicelli. It's the taste of the Irrawaddy Delta in the Burmese heartland, and an iconic national dish.

It's an "all-day breakfast" food, sold across the country by curbside hawkers, carrying their wares on shoulder poles or bicycle carts, as well as in shops and restaurants in every price range.

China's government had been suggesting for some time that it would lift a 35-year-old policy of restricting most urban families to one child. But the formal announcement on Thursday still seemed to mark a milestone.

The decision by the ruling Communist Party's Central Committee still needs to be approved by the country's Parliament before becoming national policy.

Many Chinese who want to have more children welcomed the announcement, as do the many who see the one-child policy as an anachronism as China's population ages and its labor pool shrinks.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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"Some guys have sports cars — I have this."

Once again, a Japanese team has advanced to the final four of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. The Japanese team faces Mexico on Saturday as it seeks a spot in the finals on Sunday.

Japan has won three of the past five series championships. What is the secret to its success, I wondered on a recent trip to Japan.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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China's capital, Beijing, became the first city in the world to be chosen to host both the summer and winter Olympic Games. It beat out a bid from Kazakhstan. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has the reaction from Beijing.

China issued global arrest warrants for 100 fugitives in April. Most of them, it turns out, are believed to be corrupt officials hiding out in the U.S. or Canada.

The U.S. may not seem like an obvious destination, but Huang Feng, a criminal law expert at Beijing Normal University, says there's a clear rationale.

The fugitives pick the U.S. for its standard of living and its mature legal system. They know that the U.S. and China have no extradition treaty, and that the U.S. is wary of sending fugitives back to China, where they may be denied legal due process.

At an elementary school outside the Chinese capital, Beijing, first-graders practice controlling soccer balls under the instruction of American coach Tom Byer.

"When I clap, everybody's going to dribble to the circle, pull it back and go to the right. Go!" he says.

Regular soccer balls would practically come up to the kids' knees, so they practice with miniature ones instead.

But Byer, a native of New York, argues that even at age 6 or 7, the children are already late to the game.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

"Ugly Americans" — tourists with appalling manners, loud voices, louder apparel and heaps of cultural insensitivity — have been an enduring stereotype for decades.

They are now facing a major challenge from their increasingly well-traveled Chinese counterparts.

Not only are the Chinese bemoaning their rudeness at home and abroad, the government has responded with new rules that took effect this week, aimed at keeping loutish travelers in check.

Go to Xi'an city in northwest China, and you can still hear amateur musical ensembles playing court music from the Tang Dynasty. One of the tunes is about flowers — tulips imported over the Silk Road from Europe some 1,300 years ago.

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that allowed the exchange of goods and ideas between Asia and Europe, including between the Roman Empire and China's Han Dynasty, towards the end of the first century B.C.

Palm oil is in everything, from pizza dough and chocolate to laundry detergent and lipstick. Nongovernmental organizations blame it for contributing to assorted evils, from global warming to human rights abuses.

But in the past year, this complex global industry has changed, as consumers put pressure on producers to show that they're not destroying forests, killing rare animals, grabbing land or exploiting workers.

China may have surged ahead in scientific prowess in recent decades, but it still lags behind other countries in science fiction.

Author Liu Cixin is starting to change that. The books in a popular trilogy published in China have each sold more than half a million copies. He has won nine Galaxy Awards, the Chinese equivalent of the Hugo Award. And a recent English-language translation is bringing his science-packed, futuristic vision to new audiences.

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