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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Asia
7:58 am
Sat May 16, 2015

Tensions In South China Sea Loom Over Kerry Visit

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 11:23 am

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Parallels
4:34 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 10:45 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
7:49 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 6:29 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
5:07 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 3:18 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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Asia
4:45 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Chinese Women's Rights Activists Released From Jail

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 7:53 pm

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Parallels
4:32 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 12:37 pm

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
3:28 am
Thu April 9, 2015

China's 'Barefoot Lawyer' And His Great Escape

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 11:04 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
1:29 pm
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 4:47 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
5:08 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

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

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 8:07 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
4:37 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 8:03 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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Asia
4:55 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Renewed Fighting Creates Setback For Myanmar's Efforts To End Civil War

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 7:58 pm

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

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

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Parallels
3:24 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 10:40 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
3:30 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 8:29 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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Parallels
5:29 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 9:20 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
3:31 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 9:28 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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Parallels
3:58 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

One County Provides Preview Of China's Looming Aging Crisis

Senior citizens eat dinner in the unheated dining room of their government-funded retirement home in rapidly aging Juegang Township, Rudong County, in eastern China's Jiangsu province. Just a few years ago, the town had only one such facility; now it has five.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 6:33 pm

A decade from now, about 2025, experts predict that China's population will peak — reaching as high as 1.4 billion — and begin to steadily decline. Some of them are predicting that a shrinking, aging population could lead to a national crisis.

One way to peer into the future is to visit a county in eastern China that pioneered population controls a decade before the rest of the country — and is now feeling their impact.

Rudong County is in Jiangsu province, on China's east coast just north of where the Yangtze River empties into the East China Sea.

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Asia
5:03 am
Wed December 31, 2014

2014 Got Off To A Tense Start For China

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 8:09 am

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

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Asia
7:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

AirAsia Flight Goes Missing With 162 Aboard

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 11:07 am

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

Asia
5:05 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 7:59 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
4:24 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 2:55 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
4:21 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

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

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 10:23 am

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Parallels
12:58 pm
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 6:32 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
5:15 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 10:46 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
2:04 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
5:07 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 10:03 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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Asia
4:14 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Hong Kong Protests Pick Up Steam After Weekend Clashes With Police

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 6:30 pm

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Parallels
8:20 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 10:42 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
2:15 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 3:43 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
4:09 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Beijing Begins Apparent Corruption Probe Into High-Level Official

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 7:31 pm

China has begun investigations into one of the country's senior politicians. Zhou Yongkang was a former domestic security chief, and he's suspected of "serious disciplinary violations" — a phrase which usually stands for corruption.

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Salt
2:27 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Fast-Food Scandal Revives China's Food Safety Anxieties

A U.S. company that supplies meat to some fast-food chains in China has pulled all of its products, some of which were chicken nuggets sold in Hong Kong, made by a Chinese subsidiary.
Kin Cheung AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:39 pm

A U.S. company that supplies meat to some of the world's largest fast-food chains in China has pulled all its products made by a Chinese subsidiary, after reports that it was selling expired products.

The food safety scandal that erupted in China in the last week has also spread overseas, affecting chain restaurants in Japan and Hong Kong, and prompted calls for tighter food safety regulation in China.

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