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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5:27pm

Thu January 2, 2014
Asia

Lure Of China's Gray Economy Reaches Rich And Poor

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 8:27 pm

Chinese 100 yuan bank notes being counted at a bank in Huaibei, in eastern China's Anhui province, in 2013. Undeclared income — sometimes the proceeds of corruption, often just of unclear provenance — is estimated to make up a staggering 12 percent of China's GDP.
AFP/Getty Images

The income gap is growing dramatically in China and the rich are getting exponentially richer — the richest 10 percent of China's population are more than three times wealthier than the official figures.

Much of that undeclared wealth is what Chinese people call "gray income," including proceeds from corruption and other ethically "gray" areas of the economy.

Living on the margins of the "gray economy" are people like migrant laborer Wang Haichuan. He rents a room far below street level in a dark, former air-raid shelter inhabited by other migrants.

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12:17pm

Tue November 26, 2013
Parallels

Filipino Priest Suffers With His Flock Amid Typhoon's Ruins

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 8:58 am

A makeshift headstone in the mass grave outside of San Joaquin Parish in the province of Leyte, Philippines. The Catholic parish has lost almost two-thirds of its congregation after Typhoon Haiyan swept through the area.
David Gilkey NPR

Three young men dig a grave in a churchyard in San Joaquin Parish, a collection of about a dozen barrios outside Tacloban, the Philippine provincial capital ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan two weeks ago.

They roll an unidentified body wrapped only in blue plastic sheeting up to the grave on a squeaky trolley.

They drag the body into the pit, which is too small for it. The soft, sandy soil falls from their shovels, and in a minute, the crumpled blue figure disappears under the earth.

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5:01pm

Fri November 22, 2013
NPR Story

Old Political Feud In Philippines Fuels Rage Over Typhoon Response

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 7:21 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

While international relief efforts in the Philippines are in high gear, efforts by the Philippine government have been hampered. There are bitter rivalries among the country's political clans. And two major political families - including that of the president - are sparring over the response to the disaster. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has that story.

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4:26pm

Wed November 6, 2013
Animals

What's In A (Panda Cub's) Name?

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 6:21 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Election Day has come and gone, but your vote can still make a difference. That is in choosing a name for a new giant panda cub. The National Zoo here in Washington has put forth five possible names for the female cub born this summer. You can vote on the Smithsonian National Zoo's website.

And we want to make sure you have everything you need to make an informed decision, so we've called up our Beijing correspondent Anthony Kuhn for some help understanding the choices. Anthony, ni hao.

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12:39pm

Mon November 4, 2013
Parallels

China Sets Ambitious Agenda In 'Asian Space Race'

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 8:57 pm

Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping aboard the Tiangong-1 space module in June. China is leading what some see as a space race among Asian countries: It has worked on a lunar rover, a space station and an unmanned mission to Mars.
Wang Yongzhuo Xinhua /Landov

India's launch Tuesday of a satellite bound for Mars is the latest milestone in a space race among Asian nations. China, though, is still seen as the leader. A decade ago, China became the third nation to put up a manned spacecraft; it has worked on a lunar rover, a space station as well as its own unmanned mission to Mars.

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5:37am

Fri October 25, 2013
NPR Story

Before Sherlock: An Ancient Chinese Sleuth's Enduring Appeal

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 12:19 pm

Hong Kong director Tsui Hark's latest film, Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, just hit cinemas in Asia.
Sam Yeh AFP/Getty Images

The sleuthing exploits of Judge Dee, a character based on a 7th-century Chinese official, are gripping new audiences as new generations of writers, movie directors and storytellers tell his tale and build on his legend.

Judge Dee was cracking tough cases for centuries in China before Sherlock Holmes even got a clue. But perhaps more importantly, his stories continue to inform ordinary Chinese people's understanding of justice and law.

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5:38am

Sun October 13, 2013
Parallels

For Myanmar's Kachin Rebels, Life Teeters Between War, Peace

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 6:04 pm

Members of the Kachin Independence Army train at a refugee camp in northern Myanmar.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Despite progress in its transition to democracy, Myanmar has struggled to end all the ethnic insurgencies that have long divided the country.

Now the Kachin — the last of the insurgent groups that have been fighting the government — have signed a preliminary agreement that could end the conflict.

The agreement falls short of an actual cease-fire, but calls for both sides to work "to end all armed fighting."

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3:43am

Tue October 1, 2013
Parallels

Ethical Tradition Meets Economics In An Aging China

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:44 am

A woman surnamed Chu (left), 77, attends the hearing of a case against her daughter and husband in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu province, on July 1. Chu's daughter has been ordered to visit her at least once every two months, in the first case under a new law to protect the elderly.
AFP/Getty Images

The sound of Buddhist chants wafts through an annex of the Songtang Hospice, the first private facility of its kind in Beijing. A group of lay Buddhists is trying to ease the passage of a recently departed soul of a patient.

When I first visited this place nearly two decades ago, the average patient stayed just 18 days. Now, it caters to people who are not terminally ill, and the average stay is about five years.

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7:39am

Thu September 26, 2013
Parallels

New Chinese Law Cracks Down On 'Rumor Mongers'

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:57 am

Chinese authorities go to great lengths to censor the Internet and control social media. A 16-year-old was recently arrested under a new law that bars "rumormongering" online. Here, customers use computers at an Internet cafe in Hefei, China, in 2012.
Jianan Yu Reuters/Landov

Authorities in western China apparently wanted to make an example of 16-year-old Yang Hui.

He was the first person in China to be arrested under a new rule against "rumor mongers," defined as people who intentionally post a rumor that is reposted 500 times or more, or viewed 5,000 times or more.

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11:34pm

Sat September 21, 2013
Asia

Bo Xilai's Life Sentence Reveals China's Leadership Problem

Originally published on Sun September 22, 2013 11:20 am

Disgraced politician Bo Xilai stands during his trial on corruption charges in August.
Kyodo/Landov

A court in East China sentenced former top Chinese official Bo Xilai to life in prison for corruption after one of the highest-profile political trials of recent years.

Media coverage of the court hearings transfixed audiences with details of murder, a love triangle and lavish official life styles. The case may prove to be a political Pandora's box that could bring down even higher-ranking officials and widen divisions over the country's future direction.

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3:02am

Tue September 17, 2013
Parallels

Japan's Rice Farmers See Trade Deal As Threat To Tradition

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:38 am

Rice farmers pull a harvest festival cart down country lanes in Narita city, Chiba prefecture. The area is home to Tokyo's main airport, but also has many agricultural areas.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

The Japanese city of Narita is best known to the outside world for its major airport that serves Tokyo, the nation's capital city.

Narita is also a rural area of Chiba Prefecture, however, with a long tradition of rice farming.

Toward the end of the summer, Narita's rice farmers gather to pray for bountiful harvests. They dance, play music and ride elaborate festival carts. From afar, the wagons appear to glide through a sea of lush green paddy fields as villagers pull them down Narita's placid country lanes.

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3:33am

Thu August 29, 2013
The Salt

Move Over, Pot Stickers: China Cooks Up Hundreds Of Dumplings

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 7:52 pm

A Flock of Dumpling Ducklings: What's inside? Roasted Beijing duck, of course.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

All week, we've been talking about dumplings — from tortellini's sensual origins in Italy to kubbeh's tasty variations in Israel.

But perhaps no country has a longer history or greater variety of dumplings than China. Dumplings come in all shapes and with every imaginable filling. They are served at everything from a humble family meal to elaborate works of culinary art.

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5:08pm

Thu August 22, 2013
Asia

Former Chinese Politician Has Spirited Defense At Trial

The former politician Bo Xilai offered a spirited defense in court in China on Thursday, surprising observers who had expected a quick show trial to end the country's biggest political scandal in decades. However Bo was allowed to cross-examine witnesses and tell judges he had been framed in the bribery charges against him. He said he had confessed to the charges under psychological pressure during interrogation.

4:54pm

Thu August 1, 2013
Parallels

'Abenomics' Serving Up The Same Old Medicine In Japan?

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 5:48 pm

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans for reviving Japan's ailing economy are yielding mixed results so far.
Koji Sasahara AP

Ever since Japan's stock market bubble burst in the early 1990s, the country's economy has been stuck in a deflationary spiral. Wages and prices kept going down — and so did consumer spending.

After all, would you buy something today if you knew it was going to be cheaper tomorrow?

But when he came to power last December, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he could fix the problem, after two "lost decades."

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4:14pm

Fri July 19, 2013
Music News

A Secret Folk Music Holds Firm In China's Badlands

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 6:12 pm

Zhang Junmin (second from right) and his band perform the Lao Qiang music special in northwest China's Shaanxi province. The character behind the stage means "drama"; Lao Qiang music used to accompany puppet plays and includes a strong storytelling component.
Courtesy of Wang Kuanren

When Guns N' Roses released the album Chinese Democracy five years ago, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman commented that, questions of politics aside, the GNR sound just wasn't most Chinese folks' cup of tea.

"According to my knowledge," he said, "a lot of people don't like this kind of music because it's too noisy and too loud."

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