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.

Just days after editors ended publication of China's leading liberal history journal last month, a new edition of the magazine is out again. But the original publishers are calling this a pirate edition — and they're preparing to fight it in court.

The magazine, the Annals of the Chinese Nation, or Yanhuang Chunqiu in Chinese, is seen as the standard bearer of the embattled liberal wing of China's ruling Communist Party. The publication has made bold calls for democratic reforms and questions the party's version of history.

At first glance, it looks like an ordinary gym class at a public school in Yibin, a city of about a million people in southwest China's Sichuan province.

But then you notice that the students are wearing signs: "Nitrate," "Sulfate," "Phosphate." In their game of tag, they chase the classmates they need to start a chemical reaction.

This is how gym and chemistry classes are combined at the Cold Water Well Middle School. Upstairs, in a combined history and math class, students use statistics to find patterns in the rise and fall of nations.

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The Panchen Lama — the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama — is performing an important ritual that has not taken place in Tibet for half a century, Chinese state media are reporting this week.

Five years ago, the residents of a southern Chinese village drew the world's attention when they chased Communist Party officials out of their hamlet and elected a new leader.

Now, the land disputes that spurred them to action remain unresolved, and the residents of Wukan village are rising up in protest once again after their elected leader was detained on corruption charges Saturday.

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

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

Chinese women Rui Cai and Cleo Wu gave birth to twins last month, following a successful in vitro fertilization. It wasn't simple.

Cai took two eggs from Wu, added sperm from a U.S. sperm bank, had them put in her womb at a clinic in Portland, Ore., then returned to China to give birth.

The lesbian couple is one of the first in China known to have used this form of assisted reproduction.

The birth is seen as a sort of milestone in China, which has become a more tolerant place for gay couples over the past nearly four decades.

Chinese health and Internet authorities have launched an investigation into Baidu, the country's largest search engine, following the death of a college student who accused Baidu of misleading him to a fraudulent cancer treatment.

Experts believe the scandal will damage the credibility of Baidu's search results, and its long-term economic prospects.

On Monday, news of the government investigation caused Baidu's stock to tumble by nearly 8 percent on the Nasdaq.

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.

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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.

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.

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

As Japan marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki that ended World War II, aging A-bomb survivors are leading the opposition to what they fear is a dangerous return by Japan's government to the militarism that started the war in Asia.

Near ground zero, a bell tolled at 11:02 a.m., marking the moment that a US plutonium bomb obliterated this city and killed some 70,000 people.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sitting in the audience, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue addressed a memorial service. He said Japan should not abandon its pacifist constitution.

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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