Frank Langfitt

Frank Langfitt is NPR's international correspondent based in Shanghai. He covers China, Japan, and the Koreas for NPR News. His reports have included visits to China's infamous black jails –- secret detention centers — as well as his own travails taking China's driver's test, which he failed three times.

Before moving to China, Langfitt was NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi. He reported from Sudan and covered the civil war in Somalia, where learned to run fast in Kevlar and interviewed imprisoned Somali pirates, who insisted they were just misunderstood fishermen. During the Arab spring, Langfitt covered the uprising and crushing of the reform movement in Bahrain.

Prior to Africa, Langfitt was a labor correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covered the 2008 financial crisis, the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler and coal mine disasters in West Virginia.

Shanghai is Langfitt's second posting in China. Before coming to NPR, he spent five years as a correspondent in Beijing for The Baltimore Sun, covering a swath of Asia from East Timor to the Khyber Pass. During the opening days of the Afghan War, Langfitt reported from Pakistan and Kashmir.

In 2008, Langfitt covered the Beijing Olympics as a member of NPR's team, which won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. Langfitt's print and visual journalism have also been honored by the Overseas Press Association and the White House News Photographers Association.

Langfitt spent his early years in journalism stringing for the Philadelphia Inquirer and living in Hazard, Kentucky, where he covered the state's Appalachian coalfields for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Before becoming a reporter, Langfitt drove a taxi in Philadelphia and dug latrines in Mexico. Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

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3:55am

Thu December 11, 2014
Asia

Police Finish Dismantling Hong Kong Protest Sites

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 8:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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4:06am

Tue November 18, 2014
Asia

Hong Kong Authorities Clear Area In Protest Zone

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 4:25 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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9:46am

Tue November 11, 2014
The Two-Way

In China, Dreaded Process Of Getting Visa To The U.S. May Get Easier

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 5:41 pm

Chinese citizens wait to submit their visa applications at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in 2012. Wait times for interviews once could stretch to a month or more.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the U.S. will begin offering Chinese tourists and business people multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years. The change, announced by President Obama in Beijing, is designed to help the American economy and build goodwill in China. China's Foreign Ministry says it will reciprocate.

The first impression most Chinese have of the U.S. government comes when they apply for a visa. For years, they've dreaded the process.

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2:08pm

Fri November 7, 2014
Parallels

Capitalism Is Making China Richer, But Not Democratic

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 10:41 pm

Visitors walk past a portrait of late communist leader Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on Sept. 30, the eve of National Day.
Greg Baker AFP/Getty Images

As far back as the early 1990s, Washington thought trade and investment eventually would make China more democratic. In the past couple of years, though, the Communist Party has doubled down on repression at home and become more aggressive overseas.

In short, things have not turned out as Washington had hoped, and relations between the world's two major powers are tense these days.

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2:37am

Fri November 7, 2014
Parallels

China's Corruption Crackdown Pummels Macau Casinos

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 3:27 pm

The casino strip in Macau has revenues roughly seven times its counterpart in Las Vegas. With China's government cracking down on corruption, the gambling business is down sharply.
Chris McGrath Getty Images

The southern Chinese city of Macau is the global capital of casino gambling. Last year, revenue rose about 20 percent, hitting $45 billion — nearly seven times the haul on the Las Vegas strip.

But since June, Macau's take has tumbled every month, according to local government figures. In October, revenue plunged 23 percent, the biggest drop on record.

Insiders say China's anti-corruption crackdown is scaring off high rollers — including corrupt officials.

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9:01am

Tue October 28, 2014
The Two-Way

China May Drop 9 Crimes From List Of Death Penalty Offenses

Police officers stand guard in front of the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court in China's Anhui Province.
Andy Wong AP

Chinese lawmakers are considering removing nine crimes from eligibility for the death penalty. A draft amendment to that effect went to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in Beijing this week. It appears to be part of a trend to reduce the use of the death penalty in a country that still executes more people than any other.

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6:33am

Thu October 23, 2014
The Two-Way

Tweets In Hong Kong Put Kenny G In Jam With Communist Party

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 12:58 pm

After deleting tweets from a Hong Kong protest site, Kenny G said he was "not trying to defy government orders."
Tomasz Gzell EPA/Landov

Politics between Hong Kong and mainland China are a minefield these days, and if Kenny G, the 1980s saxophone superstar, didn't know it, he does now.

Kenny G, who is hugely popular in mainland China, was in Hong Kong on Wednesday and decided to pop by the main pro-democracy protest camp, which is now in its fourth week.

He posed for photos with fans, flashed a peace sign and said he hoped the demonstrations would end peacefully.

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10:47am

Tue October 21, 2014
Parallels

A Hong Kong Protest Camp Spawns Its Own Art

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 11:56 am

Frank Langfitt NPR

Now in its improbable fourth week, the main pro-democracy protest camp in Hong Kong's Admiralty district is a sort of Woodstock on the South China Sea.

A sea of tents, the camp teems with street art and propaganda posters. They range from sculptures and cartoons to protest banners and the "Lennon Wall" — a reference to John Lennon and a similar wall in Prague — where people have written thousands of messages on colored Post-it notes.

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10:19am

Sun October 19, 2014
Parallels

An Urban Village Pops Up To Comfort Hong Kong Protesters

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 10:43 am

Student demonstrators don't want to fall behind on their studies, so volunteers built them an outdoor study hall. Some of the desks are built into the concrete highway divider.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Hong Kong's main pro-democracy protest camp turned three-weeks-old over the weekend. What began as a road block has grown into urban village with several hundred tents that attracts more than a thousand people at night.

The camp is a combo street fair, outdoor art gallery with political sculptures, propaganda posters as well as speeches, movie screenings and even a free library.

The vibe here is like an American college campus in the 1960s, except it's on an island on the edge of the South China Sea and surrounded by skyscrapers.

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2:16am

Fri October 17, 2014
Parallels

Free Speech In Hong Kong, Then And Now

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 1:37 pm

Pro-democracy protesters shout slogans during a standoff with police outside the central government offices in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

I've been traveling to Hong Kong since 1997, when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule. Reporting on the pro-democracy protests in recent weeks, I've been struck by a change in the people here. Many are no longer willing to give their full names when talking about politics and the current protests.

A couple of nights ago I was interviewing a real estate agent in a pinstripe suit on an elevated walkway as police battled and pepper-sprayed demonstrators in the distance.

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3:14pm

Thu October 9, 2014
Parallels

A Surprising Tie That Binds Hong Kong's Protest Leaders: Faith

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 8:45 pm

A student prays in front of a temporary altar during a rally outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sept. 24.
Bobby Yip Reuters /Landov

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong in the past two weeks, demanding democracy and grabbing global attention.

Many threads have run through the protests, including one that might seem surprising: faith. Many of the leaders are Christian, and some cite faith as an inspiration.

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3:01am

Thu October 9, 2014
Parallels

Economics, Tensions With Mainlanders Fuel Hong Kong's Protests

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 9:26 am

Protesters dressed as Chinese Red Guards chant during a May demonstration in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. People from Hong Kong staged a satirical rally to urge Chinese tourists to stay in mainland China. Competition for housing, grades and jobs between the two groups have produced deep tensions.
Anthony Kwan Getty Images

If the goal of the protesters who flooded Hong Kong streets in the past couple of weeks can be boiled down to a word, it's "democracy."

But many real-life worries have driven that demand, including economic ones. They range from frustration about jobs and high housing prices to competition — and a culture clash — with mainland Chinese.

Perry Chong, a die-hard protester, was sitting beneath a tent in a nearly abandoned protest zone Wednesday across from the city government headquarters.

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3:22pm

Tue October 7, 2014
Parallels

After Clogging The Streets, Hong Kong Protests Dwindle

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 8:45 am

Two schoolgirls walk past a barricade on a street outside Hong Kong's government complex on Tuesday. Many protesters have returned to work and to school. Student leaders and government officials agreed Tuesday to hold talks on ending the protests.
Chris McGrath Getty Images

Nixon Ma runs a small electronics shop in Hong Kong's Wanchai business district, and since the protests began late last month, he says, sales are down 30 percent.

Like the protesters, he wants to see genuine democracy in this former British colony. But he opposes the tactics of the demonstrators who filled the streets and disrupted businesses.

"I agree. I 100 percent support [the protesters], but not in this way," he says. "For example, taxi drivers, a lot of businesses are unhappy because it disturbs their normal lives," he says.

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1:31pm

Mon October 6, 2014
Parallels

On China's Mainland, A Less Charitable Take On Hong Kong's Protests

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 6:31 pm

A woman walks past umbrellas with pro-democracy slogans written on them at a protest site near Hong Kong government headquarters on Saturday.
Wong Maye-E AP

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have impressed people around the world with their idealism, politeness and guts. But in mainland China, the view is different.

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4:46am

Sat October 4, 2014
Parallels

Gambling in Macau: A Reversal of Fortune ... And Values

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 12:50 pm

Tourists gather in front of old and new Casino Lisboa during a Chinese New Year celebration in Macau, a special administrative region of China, on Feb. 1. For decades, the Lisboa was the only game in town. Now, the world's biggest gambling companies are scrambling to set up shot in what was once a sleepy Portuguese colony.
Vincent Yu AP

As casinos close in Atlantic City, more are rising halfway around the world in Macau, a Chinese territory on the edge of the South China Sea.

Macau already has 35 casinos, including the Venetian, which features gondoliers from Naples and Florence who belt out "O Sole Mio" along an ersatz canal as Chinese tourists snap pictures. In the next several years, Macau will add more multibillion-dollar gambling resorts modeled on Versailles and Paris.

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