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.

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.

Myanmar reached a major milestone this week, as civilian leaders, including Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, replaced the generals who have been running the Southeast Asian nation, directly or indirectly, for more than a half century.

The outgoing president, U Thein Sein, formally relinquished his office Wednesday to his successor, U Htin Kyaw.

It's not often that the governments of major nations are so concerned about hunting down the authors of anonymous online letters.

But that is what's happening in China, as police have detained and questioned journalists and the families in China of overseas dissidents, in an apparent effort to find out who wrote a letter calling for President Xi Jinping to step down.

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.

Ren Zhiqiang, 54, is a brash, sharp-tongued Chinese real estate mogul who is sometimes likened to Donald Trump. In recent days, he has become the target of a government campaign to discredit him, becoming the focus of a bitter debate about Communist Party control of media and the limits of free speech.

Talking to some Hong Kong residents, you might think their territory was under siege. Their press is censoring itself. Its judiciary is required to be "patriotic." Even their mother tongue, Cantonese, is under assault, some believe, from Mandarin speakers to the north.

Now add academic freedom to that list, as pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps have rushed to take sides in an ongoing battle over leadership of the territory's oldest institution of higher learning, the University of Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong's densely packed Causeway Bay district, a red sign with a portrait of Chairman Mao looms over the bustling storefronts and shoppers. The sign indicates that there is coffee, books and Internet on offer inside.

Customers go past a window where travelers can exchange foreign currencies, up a narrow staircase and into a room stacked high with books. The walls are painted red and decked out with 1960s Cultural Revolution propaganda posters and other Mao-era memorabilia. The aroma of coffee and the sound of jazz waft over the book-browsing customers.

After centuries of neglect, the world's largest fortification, the Great Wall of China, has a band of modern-day defenders who are drawing up plans to protect and maintain the vast structure.

They're not a minute too soon: Roughly a third of the wall's 12,000 miles has crumbled to dust, and saving what's left of it may be the world's greatest challenge in cultural preservation.

Qiao Guohua is on the front line of this battle. He lives in the village of Jielingkou, not far from where the eastern end of the Great Wall runs into the Yellow Sea.

Monkeys are clever and cute — or so the conventional wisdom in China has it. And therefore people see the Year of the Monkey, which begins on Feb. 8, as an auspicious time for making babies.

The Year of the Goat, however, which is now coming to an end, has the opposite reputation. "Nine out of 10 babies born in the Year of the Goat are unlucky," goes an old Chinese saying. (While some translations have it as "goat," others render it as "sheep" or "ram.")

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.

In Myanmar, also known as Burma, initial vote counts show the pro-democracy opposition is headed for a decisive victory, two days after the freest elections in a generation. For two nights in a row, supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) have partied in the streets to celebrate their apparent victory.

One of the first NLD winners to be announced is feminist and pro-democracy activist Zin Mar Aung. She says opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is trying to keep the celebrations from getting out of hand.

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

As Myanmar prepares to vote Sunday, one of Asia's most charismatic politicians, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, appears poised to lead her National League for Democracy (NLD) to victory.

While seen as the country's most significant vote in a quarter-century, there's still no certainty that a victorious Suu Kyi will be able to form a new government or fundamentally alter the country's military-dominated power structure in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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

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.

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.

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

Transcript

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.

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.

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.

Pages