Anthony Kuhn

International Correspondent Anthony Kuhn official base is Jakarta, Indonesia, where he opened NPR's first bureau in that country in 2010. From there, he has covered Southeast Asia, and the gamut of natural and human diversity stretching from Myanmar to Fiji and Vietnam to Tasmania. During 2013-2014, he is covering Beijing, China, as NPR's Louisa Lim is on fellowship.

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 effect 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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Asia
2:08 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

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.

Music News
1:51 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

A Secret Folk Music Holds Firm In China's Badlands

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

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 3:12 pm

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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Asia
12:18 am
Thu July 18, 2013

In Today's Beijing, Flash Ferraris And Fading Traditions

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

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 8:12 pm

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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Parallels
10:12 am
Wed June 5, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 3:19 pm

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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Parallels
12:19 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Battling Deforestation In Indonesia, One Firm At A Time

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

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 5:57 pm

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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Parallels
7:39 am
Thu May 23, 2013

As Myanmar Reforms, Indonesia Offers Some Lessons

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) walks with Myanmar's then-prime minister, Gen. Thein Sein, at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on March 16, 2009. Both men are former military officers, leading their Southeast Asian nations along a sometimes rocky path to democracy.
Bay Ismoyo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 6:48 am

As Myanmar's leaders push a series of political and economic changes, they are also having to deal with recent strife between the majority Buddhists and minority Muslims, or Rohingya.

Many countries making the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy have faced similar ethnic and sectarian conflicts, from Iraq to the former Yugoslavia.

But for Myanmar, perhaps the most compelling case study is also the closest.

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Parallels
12:00 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Are Buddhist Monks Involved In Myanmar's Violence?

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

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 7:05 pm

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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The Two-Way
2:33 pm
Sun May 5, 2013

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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Environment
12:04 am
Tue April 30, 2013

He Helped Discover Evolution, And Then Became Extinct

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

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 12:27 pm

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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World
1:37 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

As Myanmar Reforms, Old Tensions Rise To The Surface

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

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 1:57 pm

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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The Salt
12:16 am
Mon April 1, 2013

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

Preparing the soy beans to be fermented
Anthony?

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

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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The Two-Way
2:43 am
Sat March 16, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 10:51 am

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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World
2:20 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

After Long Isolation, Myanmar Now Has Suitors

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

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 3:47 pm

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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Asia
12:39 am
Thu February 21, 2013

An Indonesian Extremist Trades Rifle For Spatula

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

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 6:02 am

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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Asia
1:35 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Mon January 21, 2013 10:15 pm

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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Asia
10:39 am
Fri January 4, 2013

South Korea Prepares The Young For A Rapidly Aging Population

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

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 10:43 am

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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Asia
7:32 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Jakarta's New Governor Seen As A Rising Star

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

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 4:24 pm

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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Asia
12:22 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Daughter Of A Dictator Favored In S. Korean Election

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

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 3:07 am

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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Middle East
12:59 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Israel, Christians Negotiate The Price Of Holy Water

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

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 6:13 am

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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The Salt
11:34 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Palestinian Olive Harvest Turns Bitter As Economy Sputters

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

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 6:12 am

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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