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.

When American comic Jesse Appell first arrived in China, his intestinal fortitude was tested by Beijing street food. And that's become material his stand-up act, which was on display recently at the Hot Cat Club, a small but popular Beijing bar and performance venue.

"I ate at restaurants that hadn't been renovated in so long they still had portraits of [Chairman] Mao up on the wall," he says.

The Mao reference seems suitably ancient to the young crowd of expats, and they burst out laughing.

A decade from now, about 2025, experts predict that China's population will peak — reaching as high as 1.4 billion — and begin to steadily decline. Some of them are predicting that a shrinking, aging population could lead to a national crisis.

One way to peer into the future is to visit a county in eastern China that pioneered population controls a decade before the rest of the country — and is now feeling their impact.

Rudong County is in Jiangsu province, on China's east coast just north of where the Yangtze River empties into the East China Sea.

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Yukiko Koyama kicked around Tokyo for a few years looking for the right job. For a while, she designed costumes for classical ballet dancers. But she longed to work in the great outdoors, and to find a job she could really sink her teeth into.

Two years ago, she found just the right thing for her: sinking a chainsaw's teeth into the pine forests of Matsumoto City in landlocked Nagano prefecture. Forests there on the central island of Honshu have been growing since the end of World War II, and many are in need of weeding.

This year, significant legal reforms have tried to make China's judiciary more accountable, and make it easier for citizens to sue the government.

But those changes may not take effect soon enough to help Chinese citizens who are punished without being told exactly what they did wrong.

One Chinese woman is suing the government for what she says is exactly this predicament.

The case will go to trial even as China is taking unprecedented steps to reform its legal system.

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