Anthony Kuhn | WYPR

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 ongoing crackdown on military corruption may be the toughest — or at least best publicized — in more than six decades of communist rule. Some top brass are on trial, and teams of inspectors have fanned in search of graft.

But all of that may seem like a distant light at the end of a long tunnel for former navy captain Tan Linshu. Tan and his wife have lived in a tiny, subterranean room for two years as they search for justice in a case that suggests what the crackdown is up against.

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On Thursday night, I stayed at a motel in the town of Hirono, just outside a restricted zone in Fukushima Prefecture. The motel's residents were all men, all apparently working on the cleanup of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where three reactors melted down and a fourth caught on fire after a quake and tsunami in 2011.

I was told that, except for a few elderly residents, most of Hirono's inhabitants had left for other places.

China goes back to work Friday after a weeklong holiday marking the Year of the Horse. Traditionally, celebrations continue through the first month of the Lunar New Year.

As in years past, some 800 million viewers tuned in this year to the state TV New Year's gala program to watch Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, French actress and singer Sophie Marceau, and other entertainers.

For most of the past half century, China has avoided a full accounting for one of the darkest chapters of its recent history: the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976.

During that time, Chairman Mao Zedong's shock troops — Communist youth known as Red Guards — persecuted, tortured or even killed millions of Chinese, supposed "class enemies."

Now, some Red Guards have issued public apologies to their victims, a rare example of the ruling party allowing public discussion of its historic mistakes.

China's government has recently jailed officials and issued a slew of new rules to curb corruption, but it's apparently not an effort that independent citizens groups are welcome to join.

On Sunday, a Chinese court sentenced Xu Zhiyong, a leading proponent of civil society, to four years in jail. Police have also arrested around a dozen other members of his group, called the New Citizens' Movement.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shocked the world last month when he accused his uncle and mentor of treason and had Jang Song Thaek executed.

The consequences of that purge are reaching beyond North Korea's border. Jang had been in charge of trade with China, and his death has had a chilling effect on ties with North Korea's neighbor and longtime ally.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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