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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.

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In China, a country where all media are nominally owned by the state, the government invests vast amounts of money and labor into controlling information.

Having any investigative journalists at all is no mean feat.

But in Hunan, the journalism can be as spicy as the chili pepper-laden cuisine for which the province is known.

"Hunan produces the best investigative journalists in the country," says Luo Changping, who until 2014 was one of them. One reason for this, he says, is that "no matter how poor people are in Hunan, they're very concerned about politics."

A software developer in southern China surnamed Xie was at home on a recent day, when he responded to a knock on the door.

He opened it to find three plainclothes policemen. Xie asks that we just use his last name, because he fears being arrested.

At the time, he was selling VPN apps on Apple's China app store. VPNs — virtual private networks — help people access Internet content that's blocked in China.

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"Liu Xia is free."

A Chinese official made this assertion to allay concerns that the widow of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died July 13, remains under house arrest — as she has been for most of the time since her husband was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has died of liver cancer. He was 61. He died on medical parole while serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has more from Beijing.

Prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, the only Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize while still residing in China, has died at age 61. Liu died Thursday while on medical parole in northeastern China's Shenyang city, where he was being treated for liver cancer. He was serving an 11-year prison sentence for trying to overthrow the government.

With China's most famous living dissident, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, on the verge of death, his supporters continue to call for him to be allowed to leave the country — to either get medical treatment or at least die a free man.

In decades past, China sometimes released high-profile dissidents, who went overseas. But the days when China was willing to cut a deal with the U.S. or other countries and send a dissident into exile are long gone.

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In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that its promoters claimed would beat traffic jams appears to have gone off the rails. That became clear last week when police arrested the people behind the project on suspicion of fraud.

Dubbed the Transit Elevated Bus, the vehicle looks a bit like a catamaran on rails or a bus that straddles two lanes of traffic.

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In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that was intended to beat traffic jams appears now to have gone off the rails. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has the story from Beijing.

To the rest of China, the remote, landlocked region known as Guizhou province has been a wild and rugged backwater, for all but the last 500 years of the country's history. Now, it's at the leading edge of China's technological ambitions.

Aboriginal tribes inhabited this part of Southwest China until members of the majority Han ethnic group began settling there around the 10th century B.C. It didn't become a province of a unified China until five centuries after that.

People in China have been paying cash for things for thousands of years, long before other civilizations. Now, increasingly, they're paying with their cellphones.

So while the Trump administration hailed a bilateral deal in May, that would allow U.S. credit card firms including Visa and Mastercard access to the China market, it may not be the coup those firms hoped. Chinese consumers are essentially leapfrogging plastic, and going straight from cash to mobile payments.

One of China's most controversial celebrations, the annual dog meat festival in southwest China's Yulin City, is underway.

The event inflames passions among the celebrants and their critics to such a degree that the local government seems to be in a bind, unable to placate either side. Activists say that this year, the government issued a ban on the sale of dog meat, only to reverse following an outcry from locals.

"It's really confusing," says Zhang Xiaohai, secretary general of the AITA Foundation for Animal Protection in Beijing.

A Chinese labor activist has been arrested and two others have disappeared after investigating alleged labor abuses at a factory that makes shoes for several major brands — including Ivanka Trump's.

Hua Haifeng disappeared sometime Sunday while en route to the Huajian International shoe factory in southern China.

On Tuesday, police in the province called Hua's wife, Deng Guimian.

Over the weekend, China pledged tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure financing and development aid, and elicited support from scores of countries to promote economic integration and free global trade through the creation of what Beijing is calling a "new Silk Road."

U.S. diplomats staged a rare intervention to rescue the family of a human rights lawyer held in China. The attorney was released last week, after having been swept up in a two-year-old crackdown that has put most of the country's rights lawyers and legal activists out of business.

Human rights groups have been watching to see whether the Trump administration will take a more or less muscular approach to human rights in China than their predecessors, and this case highlights some of the issues at stake.

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On a back street in Osaka, the sound of schoolchildren floats out of Tsukamoto Kindergarten. A cuckoo clock and a stand of bamboo sit in front of the school building's orange facade — and Astro Boy, a cartoon figure, looks down from a window.

From its exterior, there's no visible sign that the school is at the center of a scandal on which the leader of Japan has staked his political future.

The school's owner is accused of using his relationship with Japan's first family to secure a plot of land for a new, right-wing primary school at a massive discount.

A court in Indonesia has sentenced the capital's Christian governor to two years in prison for blasphemy against Islam, in a decision that has cheered Muslim conservatives and crushed the hopes of advocates of a more pluralistic and tolerant path for their nation.

Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, nicknamed "Ahok", had not been expected to do time in jail, as prosecutors had sought only a suspended sentence.

Ming Jun snaps some dusty twigs and drags them indoors to cook lunch for his daughter and heat his mud brick home.

The Chinese farmer is down to his last pile of firewood, and he can't afford any more. It's just ahead of the Lunar New Year, but Ming says he feels no holiday cheer.

"Other families buy their kids meat to eat and new clothes to wear. My daughter wears old, donated clothes," he says dejectedly. "Forget it, I'm not going to visit other folks' homes. I'll just stay at home and sleep."

"The Art of the Deal" appears to have edged out the "The Art of War" for now, as the presidents of the U.S. and China spoke of agreements reached at their summit at President Trump's resort in Palm Beach, Fla., last week, including an apparent deal to cooperate in grappling with the North Korean nuclear issue.

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What President Trump may refer to as "the art of the deal," his guest at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday and Friday — Chinese President Xi Jinping — might call "win-win cooperation."

In this first summit meeting between the two leaders, both sides have things they are willing to give and get. Both will be sizing the other up to see to what extent they can do business with each other.

On the afternoon of April 14, 2016, Yu Huan, 22, and his mother were working at their brake disc company in eastern China's Shandong Province, when 11 men arrived and blocked the company's entrance, set up a grill and started drinking alcohol and barbecuing outside. It was the second day in a row that they'd been harassing the family.

With fires crackling in the peat soils, smoke billowing up and hot ash raining down just a stone's throw from his house, farmer Arif Subandi chokes up as he surveys the scene.

"Now our land is burned, our environment neglected," he says, sobbing. "Where will my children and grandchildren go?"

The 48-year-old father of five, who lives just outside the capital of Indonesia's West Kalimantan Province on Borneo, says he doesn't have enough to support his family. He's worried about local companies trying to take the land from him.

Rex Tillerson concluded his first trip to Asia as secretary of state, sounding optimistic about the prospects for U.S. cooperation with China on the North Korean nuclear issue.

The upbeat notes he struck in Beijing contrasted with his remarks on Friday in Seoul about how all options, including military strikes against North Korea, remain on the table.

In Chinese, the back story to a movie or news item is called huaxu, or flower catkins. In other words, fluff.

That's the headline describing a video clip of me on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, and the country's main microblogging platform, with more than 500 million registered users.

The clip shows me asking a question at a government press conference on March 6. Less than a day after its posting, the clip had been viewed 5 million times.

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