Anthony Kuhn

Foreign Correspondent Anthony Kuhn is currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he opened NPR’s first bureau in that country in 2010. From there, he covers Southeast Asia, and the gamut of natural and human diversity stretching from Myanmar to Fiji and Vietnam to Tasmania.

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 affect 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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4:41pm

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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4:24pm

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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6:21pm

Wed November 6, 2013
Animals

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

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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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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3:34am

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.

4:51pm

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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3:18am

Thu July 18, 2013
Asia

In Today's Beijing, Flash Ferraris And Fading Traditions

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 11:12 pm

Cyclists look at a Ferrari parked illegally and blocking the bicycle lane off a main road in Beijing, on April 7, 2011.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Before it became China's capital in 1949, Beijing was a fairly provincial little city of 2 million people.

Today, it has grown into a megalopolis of some 18 million people.

I've recently returned to the city after a few years away, the first thing that strikes me is: Who the heck are all of these 20-somethings and how did they get to be driving all these Ferraris and Maseratis?

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1:12pm

Wed June 5, 2013
Parallels

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi Walks Fine Line In Her New Role

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 6:19 pm

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been under fire for working with the government on a number of issues. Here, she meets in March with protesters who oppose a copper mine backed by Chinese investors. She supports the mining project.
Khin Maung Win AP

To her many admirers in the international community, Aung San Suu Kyi remains one of the world's best known democracy icons.

But in Myanmar, also known as Burma, she is now very much a politician who is being criticized for trying to cooperate with the former military rulers who kept her under house arrest for nearly two decades.

If you want to see the old, iconic Aung San Suu Kyi, just head to the bustling headquarters of her party, the National League for Democracy, or NLD, in Yangon, the country's largest city and former capital.

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3:19am

Fri May 31, 2013
Parallels

Battling Deforestation In Indonesia, One Firm At A Time

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 8:57 pm

This photo shows a heavily logged concession affiliated with Asia Pulp and Paper, or APP, one of the world's largest papermakers, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, in 2010.
Romeo Gacad AFP/Getty Images

On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a backhoe stacks freshly cut trees to be made into pulp and paper. Asia Pulp and Paper, or APP, is Indonesia's largest papermaker, and the company and its suppliers operate vast plantations of acacia trees here that have transformed the local landscape.

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3:00am

Fri May 17, 2013
Parallels

Are Buddhist Monks Involved In Myanmar's Violence?

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 10:05 pm

Some Muslims say Buddhist monks have been inciting followers during recent violence in Myanmar. Monk U Wirathu acknowledges that he is a Buddhist nationalist but says he has tried to prevent fighting. He's shown here at the Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 27.
Gemunu Amarasinghe AP

In the Western stereotype, Buddhists are meditating pacifists who strive to keep their distance from worldly passions. But last month, more than 40 people were killed in fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in the central Burmese town of Meiktila. Witnesses say some Buddhist monks joined in the violence, while others tried to stop it.

One prominent monk in particular has been blamed for being behind it.

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5:33pm

Sun May 5, 2013
The Two-Way

The Threat To Indonesia's Biodiversity, Foretold In The 1800s

British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace was not only a key figure in developing the theory of evolution in the mid-19th century but also had the foresight to call for saving endangered species.

Wallace, who died 100 years ago this year, did his most important research in the rich biodiversity of Indonesia, and his plea for preservation is even more compelling than when he wrote it.

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3:04am

Tue April 30, 2013
Environment

He Helped Discover Evolution, And Then Became Extinct

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:27 pm

Poacher-turned-conservationist Karamoy Maramis, who works at Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park in Sulawesi, holds a maleo, a bird that exists in nature only on the Indonesian island.
Rebecca Davis NPR

Ask most folks who came up with the theory of evolution, and they'll tell you it was Charles Darwin.

In fact, Alfred Russel Wallace, another British naturalist, was a co-discoverer of the theory — though Darwin has gotten most of the credit. Wallace died 100 years ago this year.

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4:42pm

Wed April 24, 2013
World

As Myanmar Reforms, Old Tensions Rise To The Surface

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 4:57 pm

A Myanmarese girl carries away a tin roof in Meiktila, Myanmar. Violence between Buddhists and Muslims in March destroyed large areas of the town and left thousands of Muslims homeless.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

The town of Meiktila in central Myanmar presents a tranquil scene on a hot April day: A woman presses juice from sugar cane while customers loll around in the midday heat. The town is right in the center of the country, on a broad and arid plain where white cows graze among palm trees and pointy pagodas. It's a bustling trading post on the road between the capital, Naypyidaw, and the country's second-largest city, Mandalay.

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3:16am

Mon April 1, 2013
The Salt

Journey To Java's 'Tempeh Village': Where Soybean Cakes Are Born

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 8:50 am

Preparing the soy beans to be fermented
Anthony?

For centuries, Asia has been home to sophisticated vegetarian cultures. In recent years, Americans have gradually discovered cooking with meat substitutes like tofu and an Indonesia soybean cake called tempeh.

Tempeh is known for being versatile. There's an almost endless variety of ways to cook it. My favorite is perhaps one of the simplest: Cut it into thin slices, cover it in spices and crushed coriander seeds, and pan-fry it in a little oil until it's golden brown.

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5:43am

Sat March 16, 2013
The Two-Way

Now A Politician, Aung San Suu Kyi Is The Object Of Protesters

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 1:51 pm

Aung San Suu Kyi (right) faced protesters when she traveled to a village in northern Myanmar on Thursday to discuss a Chinese-backed copper mine project. Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and a member of Parliament, urged protesters to support the project, which was the scene of a violent crackdown last year. She said opposing the project would risk hurting the country's economy.
Soe Than Win AFP/Getty Images

Last year, Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was greeted by adoring crowds during triumphant tours of Asia, the U.S. and Europe. She eclipsed President Thein Sein, who remained in Burma, as the country is also known, and managed a series of domestic crises.

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5:20pm

Fri February 22, 2013
World

After Long Isolation, Myanmar Now Has Suitors

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 6:47 pm

Engineers from China and Myanmar work to bury an oil pipeline outside the Myanmar city of Mandalay. Chinese media reports say the 700-mile-long oil and gas pipelines will be completed in May.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

For decades, Myanmar was isolated diplomatically, an economic backwater that seemed almost frozen in time amid a Southeast Asian region that was modernizing at a rapid pace.

But the political reforms under way in Myanmar, also known as Burma, are redefining its place in the world. President Obama's visit in November was a sign of the dramatic turnaround in relations with the United States.

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3:33am

Thu February 21, 2013
Asia

An Indonesian Extremist Trades Rifle For Spatula

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 9:02 am

Convicted ex-terrorist Mahmudi Haryono recounts his experiences while sitting at a table at the restaurant where he works in Semarang, Indonesia. The restaurant is one of three founded by social entrepreneur and reformed radical Noor Huda Ismail, to help ex-jihadis in Indonesia reintegrate into society.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Tucked away in a back street of Semarang, a city in Indonesia's Central Java province, is a tiny, four-table restaurant. In the cramped kitchen, Mahmudi Haryono whips up a plate of ribs — lunch for two customers.

He brings it out and serves it to two Indonesian soldiers in olive drab uniforms.

Haryono is smiling and cool as a cucumber. But he acknowledges that after getting out of jail a few years ago, serving men in uniform set butterflies aflutter in his stomach.

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4:35pm

Mon January 21, 2013
Asia

In Myanmar, A Hunt For Fabled Cache Of Buried WWII Spitfires

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 1:15 am

A crowd surrounds a British Spitfire and an Auster in the courtyard of the Civic Hall in Rangoon, Burma, on April 3, 1946.
Anonymous AP

For the past few weeks a team of scientists, archaeologists and documentary makers has been digging at Yangon's international airport in Myanmar, also known as Burma. They are searching for a legendary trove of Spitfire fighter planes, said to have been buried in Burma in the waning days of World War II.

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1:39pm

Fri January 4, 2013
Asia

South Korea Prepares The Young For A Rapidly Aging Population

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 1:43 pm

South Korean men play games at a downtown park in Seoul on Nov. 1. Recent data suggest that South Korea is now the fastest-aging country on Earth.
Kim Jae-Hwan AFP/Getty Images

At a clean and sunny community center in Seoul, the South Korean capital, senior citizens make clay models of their own faces in an arts class. Some of the faces are vivid and lifelike. Others are expressionless and indistinct. The project is intended to help the seniors remember what they look like.

This is the Gangseo District Center for Dementia. Since 2006, Seoul has opened a dementia center in each of the city's 25 urban districts.

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10:32am

Mon December 24, 2012
Asia

Jakarta's New Governor Seen As A Rising Star

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo fields reporters' questions after meeting with residents of a Jakarta slum. Recent polls say Widodo is currently the most popular choice for Indonesia's president in 2014.
Yosef Riadi for NPR

Residents give a boisterous welcome to Jakarta's newly elected governor, Joko Widodo, when he shows up for a town meeting with the residents of a Jakarta slum where residents' shacks overlook the muddy, garbage-strewn waters of the Ciliwung River.

The governor's administration plans to fix chronic flooding here by dredging the river and moving residents into subsidized apartments.

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5:16am

Thu December 20, 2012
Asia

South Korea's New Leader Promises Moderate Path

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 11:37 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For the first time in its history, South Korea has chosen a woman as its leader. Park Geun-hye is promising reconciliation with her domestic opponents and dialogue with North Korea. She captured 52 percent of the vote in an election yesterday. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Seoul.

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3:22am

Tue December 18, 2012
Asia

Daughter Of A Dictator Favored In S. Korean Election

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 6:07 am

South Korean presidential candidate Park Geun-hye, who appears slightly favored in Wednesday's election, is the daughter of a military dictator who ran the country for nearly two decades. She would be South Korea's first female president.
Jung Yeon-Je AFP/Getty Images

Her presidential campaign rallies present blaring pop music and dancing supporters, but Park Geun-hye's campaign involves managing some tricky legacies.

Her father, Park Chung-hee, was a military dictator who ran the country from the time he carried out a 1961 military coup until his assassination in 1979. His memory still stirs mixed emotions among South Koreans.

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3:59pm

Wed December 5, 2012
Middle East

Israel, Christians Negotiate The Price Of Holy Water

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 9:13 am

Patriarch Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem (center), splashes holy water toward worshippers after the washing of the feet ceremony in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 2009, during Easter celebrations. A crisis was narrowly averted recently when the church's $2.3 million water bill was waived.
Gali Tibbon AFP/Getty Images

One of the holiest sites in Christendom has also been one of the most contested. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem lies on the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified and buried.

Multiple Christian denominations share the church uneasily, and clerics sometimes come to blows over the most minor of disputes. The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox all have a presence in the church.

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2:34am

Wed December 5, 2012
The Salt

Palestinian Olive Harvest Turns Bitter As Economy Sputters

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 9:12 am

Palestinian women harvest olive trees near the occupied West Bank village of Deir Samet near the town of Hebron.
Hazem Bader AFP/Getty Images

Across the West Bank, olive harvesting season is drawing to a close once again. But this year, the usually joyous occasion has become grimly purposeful because the Palestinian economy, according to some economists, is being held hostage to politics, and is on the verge of collapse.

In the West Bank village of Deir Ibzie, Amal Karajeh and her husband, Basem, comb through the leaves and branches of an olive tree in their front yard.

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