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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.

China's police are under fire this week as citizens blast Beijing authorities' decision not to prosecute police following the death of a 28-year-old environmentalist, Lei Yang.

Many observers see this as a landmark case that flies in the face of pledges by China's leaders to prevent miscarriages of justice and curb the arbitrary exercise of state power.

Earlier this month, China's Supreme Court reversed a lower court's ruling and proclaimed Nie Shubin not guilty of raping and murdering a woman in a cornfield in northern Hebei Province more than two decades ago, in 1994.

Nie's mother, Zhang Huanzhi, has long campaigned on her son's behalf. She says she hurried to inform him of the verdict.

"I sent him a photocopy of the verdict," she says. "That is, I sent it to him by burning it. I feel he must be happy about it."

She burned the document before her son's grave, believing it would reach him in the afterlife.

Tourists are drawn to the shores of Lugu Lake in southwest China by tales of an exotic "Kingdom of Daughters," where the women of the Mosuo ethnic group head one of the world's relatively rare matrilineal societies.

In fact, the tourists have created their share of problems over the years.

The Mosuo's "walking marriages," in which Mosuo women traditionally were allowed to have multiple lovers, have enticed some tourists to try to take liberties with local women.

In the year 1054, Chinese astronomers of the Song Dynasty recorded a star in the sky so bright that it was visible to the naked eye even during daytime for several weeks.

China was the world's leading scientific power at that time. But its people also saw astronomical events as omens of earthly affairs. And so the astronomers carefully recorded the location of the star and the time it was visible.

The past couple of weeks have seen U.S. and Chinese warships holding maneuvers in the South China Sea, and the president of a country that's a U.S. treaty ally, the Philippines, snubbing the U.S. and aligning himself with China.

Some observers see all of this as a blow to the U.S. strategic position in Asia, and further evidence of a looming showdown between the U.S. and China.

U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, however, remains upbeat about the relationship.

China's ruling Communist Party is pledging tighter discipline than ever for its 88 million members and no let up in a four-year anti-corruption campaign that has seen more than 1 million officials investigated for graft.

Huang Xian'er came of age while watching Internet celebrities' streaming videos on her smartphone in western China's Yinchuan city.

"My mom knew I was watching Internet stars in school," she recalls. "She simplistically thought that all Internet stars sell clothes, get plastic surgery and all look the same."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

One of North Vietnam's most recognizable wartime voices fell silent last Friday, when former radio broadcaster Trinh Thi Ngo, dubbed "Hanoi Hannah" by American service members, died.

Her former employer, the government-run Voice of Vietnam, reported the news on its website Sunday. The radio service says Trinh was 87 when she died, though there are conflicting reports about the year of her birth.

For the past couple of decades, night owls with the munchies have flocked to a certain street in Beijing that is packed with all-night restaurants. The sidewalks are jammed with cars and have a perpetual patina of rancid-smelling cooking oil.

One of the trendier restaurants on the block is called A Very Long Time Ago. The decor is upscale Paleolithic, with silhouettes of cavemen traipsing across the walls. The clientele is not so fossilized. They're mostly 20-somethings who roast skewers of food over hot coals.

If you have kids or know kids who complain about their commute to school, then consider the challenges facing the children in the Atule'er village in southwest China's Sichuan province.

The schoolkids are walking half-a-mile vertically each way, and they must navigate steep cliffs, hundreds of feet high, on rickety wooden ladders to get to and from school. It illustrates the yawning chasm between China's gleaming first-world cities and its impoverished hinterland, and the difficulties faced by China's many ethnic minorities.

The relationship between the U.S. and China these days is fraught with political tensions. But both countries are committed to sending more of their young people to study language and culture in each other's countries — and a component of that is sending more U.S. minority students to China.

That's both to provide more students of color with the opportunity to study overseas, and to create a student body abroad that is more representative of U.S. diversity.

According to China's education ministry, 21,975 American students studied in China in 2015.

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

China was rattled physically and politically Friday by North Korea's nuclear test, its second this year and fifth overall. It caused a magnitude 5.3 seismic event that caused strong tremors in towns and cities on the border between the two countries, according to the Chinese media.

But as with previous tests, it's unlikely to provoke a strong Chinese response.

Human rights lawyers in China have defended some of the country's most dispossessed citizens: migrant laborers, ethnic and religious minorities, victims of land grabs, and of course, political dissidents.

Now these attorneys face an even tougher challenge: defending themselves.

Government prosecutors are preparing to try another batch of rights lawyers, charged with crimes of subversion. Since July 2015, authorities have arrested or questioned most of the country's estimated 300 rights lawyers.

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

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

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Autograph-seeking fans and journalists thronged China's newly minted Olympic sensation, 20-year-old swimmer Fu Yuanhui, at the Beijing airport on Tuesday.

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.

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

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.

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

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In the port town of Tanmen, on China's southernmost province of Hainan Island, I met 35-year-old Wang Zhenzhong. He's done pretty well for himself. He graduated from college in Beijing and he runs his own business, selling handicrafts related to the town's maritime culture. He likes to play the guitar.

Like many folks here, his ancestors were fishermen. But one thing that makes Wang different from his neighbors is that he and his family are in possession of something very ancient and very rare.

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

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/.

On a busy Taipei street corner, students in tribal tunics, bare feet and temporary facial tattoos are taking part in an impromptu ceremony.

The students, aboriginals at National Taiwan University, line up and shout out their names and the names of their tribes. Recounting their hardships, some of them weep.

For a long time, says a woman named Yayut, she concealed her identity as an aborigine. "When people heard I was an aborigine, they said, 'You don't look like one,'" she says, sobbing.

Yayut's classmates cry and cheer her on.

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