Anthony Kuhn

International Correspondent Anthony Kuhn official base is Jakarta, Indonesia, where he opened NPR's first bureau in that country in 2010. From there, he has covered Southeast Asia, and the gamut of natural and human diversity stretching from Myanmar to Fiji and Vietnam to Tasmania. During 2013-2014, he is covering Beijing, China, as NPR's Louisa Lim is on fellowship.

Prior to Jakarta, Kuhn spent five years based in Beijing as a NPR foreign correspondent reporting on China and Northeast Asia. In that time Kuhn covered stories including the effect of China's resurgence on rest of the world, diplomacy and the environment, the ancient cultural traditions that still exert a profound influence in today's China, and the people's quest for social justice in a period of rapid modernization and uneven development. His beat also included such diverse topics as popular theater in Japan and the New York Philharmonic's 2008 musical diplomacy tour to Pyongyang, North Korea.

In 2004-2005, Kuhn was based in London for NPR. He covered stories ranging from the 2005 terrorist attacks on London's transport system to the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. In the spring of 2005, he reported from Iraq on the formation of the post-election interim government.

Kuhn began contributing reports to NPR from China in 1996. During that time, he also worked as an accredited freelance reporter with the Los Angeles Times, and as Beijing correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review.

In what felt to him a previous incarnation, Kuhn once lived on Manhattan's Lower East Side and walked down Broadway to work in Chinatown as a social worker. He majored in French literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He gravitated to China in the early 1980s, studying first at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute and later at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing.

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Parallels
2:39 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

When Corrupt Chinese Officials Flee, The U.S. Is A Top Destination

Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court of China, speaks to the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 12. Chinese authorities are waging a major campaign against corruption, and that includes a list of 100 suspects believed to be overseas. Many are former officials who are thought to have fled to the U.S. or Canada.
Lintao Zhang Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 6:51 am

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.

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Asia
6:06 am
Wed June 10, 2015

How Does A City Stop 4 Million Smokers From Lighting Up?

A woman smokes a cigarette in a Beijing shopping market, even though the practice is now banned inside public spaces.
Kevin Frayer Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 12:30 pm

"Yes, I do mind," says a sign alerting visitors to a ban on smoking at the Beijing Children's Hospital.

The poster shows a woman covering her nose with her hand, as if to block the secondhand smoke created by the 300 million smokers in China. There are 4 million in Beijing alone.

A recorded message played over the hospital's public address system emphasizes the message: It's "for your health, and that of the young patients," the voice says.

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Parallels
2:28 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

China Kicks Off 'Great Leap Forward' On The Soccer Field

First-graders take soccer class at the Nandulehe Elementary School in suburban Beijing. The school is one of 20,000 that's launching a national soccer curriculum in the next five years. It's part of a government plan to raise China's soccer skills and eventually, China's leaders hope, host and win a World Cup.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 5:07 pm

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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Asia
3:24 am
Wed May 20, 2015

U.S. Charges 6 Chinese Nationals With Stealing Tech Secrets

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 10:09 am

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Asia
6:46 am
Sat May 16, 2015

Tensions In South China Sea Loom Over Kerry Visit

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 9:23 am

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Parallels
2:58 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

For Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly, A Government Blacklist

Not exactly what that's for: Two tourists climb on a statue in Huayin, China, near Huashan, or Mount Hua, a famed tourist destination, in May 2013.
ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 8:45 am

"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.

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Goats and Soda
5:49 am
Sun May 3, 2015

China Promises $46 Billion To Pave The Way For A Brand New Silk Road

Alyson Hurt NPR

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 4:29 pm

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.

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Goats and Soda
3:07 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Palm Oil Plantations Are Blamed For Many Evils. But Change Is Coming

A forest worker fells palm trees on an illegal palm oil plantation in the province of Aceh, Indonesia.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 1:18 pm

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.

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Parallels
1:50 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Cultural Revolution-Meets-Aliens: Chinese Writer Takes On Sci-Fi

Best-selling author Liu Cixin's science fiction books are breaking new ground in China's literary world.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 10:37 am

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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Parallels
1:28 am
Thu April 9, 2015

China's 'Barefoot Lawyer' And His Great Escape

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 9:04 am

In February 2006, I traveled to the farmland of eastern Shandong province to interview blind activist Chen Guangcheng. He had been abducted from Beijing by security agents and put under house arrest for the past six months.

When I arrived, Chen was closely guarded by men armed with clubs. I couldn't get into Chen's village, so I stayed with a family of peanut farmers nearby.

Their simple farmhouse was freezing cold on that snowy day. My hosts burned peanut shells in a stove to warm the place and cook us dinner.

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The Two-Way
11:29 am
Fri April 3, 2015

The World According To Xi Jinping (Or At Least His App)

With the Xi Jinping app, you can read about the Chinese president's love of soccer and his recipe for progress in reform, economic development, rule of law and party governance.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 2:47 pm

President Xi Jinping is sometimes described in foreign media as China's most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong. Mao may have had a cult of personality, but he didn't have his own app.

Xi does.

The app may not have in-app purchases such as provincial governorships. There are no banners or alerts about the latest officials to fall to anti-graft probes. And it certainly doesn't have any sections on factional intrigues titled "Clash of Clans." It is, however, downloadable in versions for iOS and Android phones and tablets.

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Asia
3:44 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

In Regulating Outdoor Dancing, China Tells Seniors How To Bust A Move

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 6:07 pm

China's sports bureaucracy threatened this week to standardize dancing in public squares. Government committees have for decades drafted standardized eye exercises for squinting school children, calisthenics for office workers and Tai Chi routines for retirees.

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Parallels
2:37 pm
Sun March 22, 2015

Founding Father Of Modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, Dies At 91

The crowd cheers as Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (center) arrives at the Marina Bay Floating Platform for the annual National Day Parade celebrations in Singapore on Aug. 9, 2012.
Calvin Wong Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 6:03 am

Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore and one of Asia's most influential politicians, has died at age 91, according to the Singapore Prime Minister's office.

During more than a half-century as Singapore's leader, he helped turn the city-state from a sleepy British colony into an affluent and efficient trading enclave, which enjoys the world's third-highest per capita GDP.

But he was also criticized for running a one-party, authoritarian regime under which critics were muzzled and political rivals hounded.

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Parallels
1:24 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

As Palm Oil Farms Expand, It's A Race To Save Indonesia's Orangutans

A baby orangutan wearing a diaper swings through the trees at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program outside Medan, capital of Indonesia's North Sumatra province. The program takes mostly orphaned orangutans, nurses them back to health and releases them back into the wild.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 8:40 pm

On a hillside on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, about 50 red-haired refugees are learning how to be orangutans once again. The country's booming palm oil industry has encroached on their habitats, leaving many of them homeless and orphaned.

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Parallels
1:30 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

The Anti-Pollution Documentary That's Taken China By Storm

Journalist Chai Jing used $160,000 of her own money to produce a documentary on China's air pollution problem.
Screenshot/Under the Dome

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 6:29 pm

Two hundred million and counting: That's how many times a documentary about China's massive air pollution problem has been viewed online since the weekend. Environmentalists are hailing it as an eye-opener for Chinese citizens.

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Asia
2:16 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Indonesian Authorities Worried About Return Of Islamic Radicals

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 5:16 pm

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

Parallels
3:29 am
Sat February 21, 2015

Indonesia's President: Fan Of Megadeth, Defender Of Death Penalty

Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects an honor guard during a visit to Manila, Philippines, on Feb. 9. Widodo's supporters see him as very different from the strongmen who have long run Indonesia. But he has dismayed some of his backers with his strong support of the death penalty.
Jay Directo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 7:20 am

Indonesian President Joko Widodo took office a little more than 100 days ago, buoyed by sky-high expectations for political change. He's seen as very different from the strongmen and power brokers who have dominated the country for decades.

And he's certainly unconventional. He's an avid fan of heavy metal groups like Metallica and Megadeth. He's been photographed wearing black Napalm Death T-shirts and flashing the "devil's horns" hand sign.

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Parallels
1:31 am
Tue February 17, 2015

So An American Comic Walks Into A Chinese Bar ...

Comedian Jesse Appell performs at a club in Beijing. Appell won a scholarship in 2012 to study comedy in China and has been performing on the country's small but growing stand-up comedy circuit.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 7:28 am

When American comic Jesse Appell first arrived in China, his intestinal fortitude was tested by Beijing street food. And that's become material his stand-up act, which was on display recently at the Hot Cat Club, a small but popular Beijing bar and performance venue.

"I ate at restaurants that hadn't been renovated in so long they still had portraits of [Chairman] Mao up on the wall," he says.

The Mao reference seems suitably ancient to the young crowd of expats, and they burst out laughing.

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Asia
3:03 am
Wed December 31, 2014

2014 Got Off To A Tense Start For China

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 6:09 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Asia
5:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

AirAsia Flight Goes Missing With 162 Aboard

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:07 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Asia
3:05 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Is 'Womenomics' The Answer To Japan's Economic Woes?

Lumberjack Yukiko Koyama cuts pine trees on a hillside overlooking Matsumoto City in Nagano prefecture on Japan's central Honshu island. Koyama's employment at a local timber mill is partially subsidized by a government program to get more Japanese women into the workforce.
Yo Nagaya NPR

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:59 pm

Yukiko Koyama kicked around Tokyo for a few years looking for the right job. For a while, she designed costumes for classical ballet dancers. But she longed to work in the great outdoors, and to find a job she could really sink her teeth into.

Two years ago, she found just the right thing for her: sinking a chainsaw's teeth into the pine forests of Matsumoto City in landlocked Nagano prefecture. Forests there on the central island of Honshu have been growing since the end of World War II, and many are in need of weeding.

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Parallels
2:35 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

In China, One Woman's Challenge To The Legal System

Chinese customs officials, like the ones shown here in August at the Lukou International Airport in Nanjing, have broad powers to confiscate items. One woman who had copies of her father's memoir seized has sued the government.
Xie Mingming Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 12:55 am

This year, significant legal reforms have tried to make China's judiciary more accountable, and make it easier for citizens to sue the government.

But those changes may not take effect soon enough to help Chinese citizens who are punished without being told exactly what they did wrong.

One Chinese woman is suing the government for what she says is exactly this predicament.

The case will go to trial even as China is taking unprecedented steps to reform its legal system.

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Asia
2:21 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Chinese Tech Company Combines Multiple App Types Into One — At Great Profit

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 8:23 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Parallels
10:58 am
Tue November 4, 2014

The App That Helps The Chinese Masses Mobilize Online

China's WeChat messaging app has a huge audience that allows Chinese to organize online.
Petar Kujundzic Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 4:32 pm

The mobile messaging app WeChat has taken China by storm in the past couple years, swiftly becoming the largest standalone-messaging app, with more than 300 million active monthly users.

It has an ever-growing array of functions, from text and voice messaging to photo sharing. Perhaps most importantly, WeChat users also have the ability to form groups of up to 500 people.

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Asia
3:15 am
Tue October 14, 2014

China's Nomads Have A Foot In Two Very Different Worlds

Zhaxi Cairang (right), a 59-year-old Tibetan nomad, moved to a city in western China 15 years ago as part of a government effort to settle nomads. But Zhaxi says he plans to return to herding yaks next year. His son Cicheng Randing was raised in the city, but his father wants to expose him to traditional nomadic life as well.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 8:46 am

Zhaxi Cairang is trying to give his son a choice of two worlds to live in: the traditional, pastoral world of Tibetan nomads, which he has inhabited for most of his 59 years, or the modern urban lifestyle that most Tibetans experience in today's China.

Zhaxi made the transition himself about 15 years ago, when he left the grasslands and moved into the city of Yushu in western China's Qinghai province. Yushu sits on the eastern end of the Tibetan plateau. More than 95 percent of its residents are ethnic Tibetans.

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The Two-Way
12:04 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

Occupy Central: Faces From Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Movement

Kenneth Chung in the Admiralty section of Hong Kong.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters are maintaining an uneasy vigil Sunday night at three main protest sites, despite authorities' deadline to pull back so that government offices and schools can reopen on Monday.

Demonstrators have defied previous ultimatums by the authorities to clear out, as well as pleas from politicians and university administrators to withdraw for their own safety.

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Asia
2:37 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Hong Kong Protests Offer A Revelation To Mainland Chinese

Pro-democracy protesters chant slogans as they gather next to the central government offices in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Alex Ogle AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 8:03 am

The government of China has described the protests that have gripped Hong Kong for the past five days as illegal and chaotic. Any mention of the demonstrations is quickly erased from the Internet. At the same time, many mainland Chinese, in the territory for business or tourism, are observing the protests with interest and often amazement.

It's not hard to pick out the mainlanders in the crowd. They're usually the ones speaking Mandarin, instead of the dialect most Hong Kong residents speak: Cantonese.

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Parallels
6:20 am
Fri August 8, 2014

China's President Says His Anti-Corruption Drive Is Deadlocked

"The two armies of corruption and anti-corruption are at a stalemate," China's president, Xi Jinping, reportedly told a closed-door Politburo meeting in late June.
Jorge Silva Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 8:42 am

There's been much to-do about China's anti-corruption drive, and the leading example of that effort has been the downfall of a man who was once one of the country's most powerful officials, ex-security czar Zhou Yongkang.

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The Two-Way
12:20 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Flight Delays In China Leave Travelers Feeling Squeezed

Passengers packed the waiting hall Tuesday at Hongqiao Railway Station, which services a terminal at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 1:43 pm

Air travel in some of eastern China's busiest airports has slowed to a crawl over the past week or so, stranding thousands of travelers and igniting debate about the increasing competition between military and civilian flights for the country's airspace.

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Asia
2:59 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Former High-Ranking Official Under Investigation In China

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 9:53 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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