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.

Pages

12:30pm

Thu May 29, 2014
Parallels

U.S. Teacher: I Did 7 Months Of Forced Labor In A Chinese Jail

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 5:28 am

Foster worked as a sociology professor at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in southern China for a total of five years before he was charged with theft and sent to jail.
Courtesy of Stuart Foster

Prisoner 1741 spent more than seven months inside a jail in southern China, assembling Christmas lights for export to America. Work days stretched up to 10 hours and conditions were tough, he says. One boss used strands of Christmas lights to whip workers and drive production.

Stories about forced labor have trickled out of China over the years, but what makes Prisoner 1741's so remarkable is that he isn't Chinese. He's American. In fact, he's a middle-aged, American sociology professor from South Carolina.

Read more

5:09am

Thu May 29, 2014
Asia

Obama Urges China To Be Constrained Within International Rules

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 10:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

China came up yesterday when we interviewed President Obama. The president recently visited neighbors of China, including U.S. allies. The Chinese have confronted several of their neighbors in disputes over territory, which raised a question for the president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

INSKEEP: Does the United States have an interest beyond its specific alliances in preventing China from dominating East Asia and the waters around East Asia, where China's been making some aggressive moves?

Read more

9:20am

Tue May 27, 2014
Parallels

With A Heavy Hand, Chinese Authorities Crack Down On Mourners

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 3:31 pm

Chinese mourners placed flowers and lit candles at the scene of an attack last week that killed 39 people in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi. When people used social media to call for a protest, authorities tried to break up the gathering.
Frank Langfitt NPR

When people turn out to mourn the loss of loved ones, local authorities in most places treat them with respect. Not in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi last week, where 39 people were killed in a terrorist attack the government attributed to Uighers, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority.

Read more

5:54am

Fri May 23, 2014
Asia

Day After Bombing, Chinese City Very Tense

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 12:45 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Men driving SUVs plowed into a crowded vegetable market in China yesterday and threw explosive devices out of their vehicles. At least 31 people were killed and more than 90 injured. The attack took place in Urumqi, which is the capital of China's northwest region. It has a heavy concentration of Muslims. It is the second major attack in that city in less than a month. NPR's Frank Langfitt is in Urumqi and is on the line with us right now. Good morning, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

Read more

4:08am

Wed May 21, 2014
Asia

Russia's Putin Goes To Shanghai For Talks With Jinping

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 8:29 am

Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have been all smiles as they emphasize improved relations between the two countries. Drawing them closer is their shared, tense relationship with the U.S..

10:48am

Tue May 13, 2014
Parallels

China's Communist Party Learns The Fine Art Of Public Relations

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 6:26 pm

Among other courses, the China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai teaches public relations to government officials, including mock TV shows and mock press conferences. NPR's Frank Langfitt took this photo from a control room, because the presence of a foreign reporter in class rattled some of the participants.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Openness doesn't come naturally to China's Communist Party. After all, China is an authoritarian state where people have little right to know how they are governed. But Communist Party schools have been trying to change that over the years by teaching officials how to deal with the news media.

Earlier this month, Qin Chang, a host at Shanghai People's Radio, taught a class on the art of the press conference at China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai's sprawling Pudong district and I was invited to watch.

Read more

4:11am

Thu May 1, 2014
Economy

China Could Pass U.S. As Top Economy This Year

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 12:46 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The United States economy has been the largest in the world since the days when Ulysses S. Grant was president. That was in the 1870s. But a new World Bank report says by one measure that could change by the end of this year: China would take over the top spot this year.

To explain what the new report means and what it doesn't, we turn to NPR's Frank Langfitt. He's on the line from Shanghai. Hi, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

Read more

3:17pm

Mon April 28, 2014
News

Obama Bolsters Philippines, With One Eye On China

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 5:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Read more

2:45pm

Mon April 21, 2014
Parallels

Made In The USA: Childless Chinese Turn To American Surrogates

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 1:46 pm

After failed attempts with Chinese surrogates, Tony Jiang and his wife now have three children, thanks to an American surrogate.
Aly Song Reuters/Landov

Chinese couples who are unable to have children are turning to a surprising place for help these days: America. By hiring American surrogates, Chinese couples get around a ban on surrogacy in China, as well as the country's birth limits.

It also guarantees their children something many wealthy Chinese want these days: a U.S. passport.

Tony Jiang and his wife, Cherry, live in Shanghai and couldn't have children naturally. First, they turned to underground hospitals in China for surrogacy.

It didn't go well.

Jiang says one of the surrogates ran away.

Read more

12:40pm

Thu April 10, 2014
Parallels

What A Ban On Taxi Apps In Shanghai Says About China's Economy

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 11:58 am

The Shanghai government has banned the use of taxi-booking apps such as Kuaidi Dache during rush hour. Here, a Shanghai resident displays the app on his smartphone in Shanghai, on Jan. 23.
Imagine China/Corbis

The Chinese mega-city of Shanghai has been cracking down on popular taxi-booking apps, banning their use during rush hour. The government says apps discriminate against older people and those who don't have smartphones.

But economists and some customers see the crackdown as a small, textbook case of something much bigger: the battle between the government and market forces in the world's second-largest economy.

Read more

6:14am

Wed April 2, 2014
Business

Protesters Fault Taiwan For Trade Deal With China

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 12:04 pm

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTORS)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And this is what a protest sounded like a few days ago in Taiwan, more than 100,000 people protesting a new trade agreement building ties between Chinese and Taiwanese businesses. Students are also upset. They've been occupying Taiwan's legislature for almost two weeks now.

NPR's Frank Langfitt explains why people are so angry.

Read more

3:31am

Thu March 20, 2014
Asia

Satellite Images Show Potential Debris From Flight 370

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 5:37 am

Host David Greene gets the latest from NPR's Frank Langfitt about the potential debris from Malaysia Flight 370 spotted by satellite imagery in the southern Indian Ocean.

4:08am

Wed March 19, 2014
Asia

Could Malaysian Military Have Prevented Jet's Disappearance?

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:28 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

More mystery in the story of that missing jetliner. Malaysian officials say files from a flight simulator owned by the captain of the plane were deleted last month. They're trying to retrieve them. Investigators are examining the pilot's simulator to see if it provides any clues about the fate of the jet.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more

4:07am

Mon March 17, 2014
Asia

Investigation Into Missing Malaysian Jet Expands

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 10:59 am

The search for the Malaysian Airlines plane that went missing more than a week ago has expanded as officials still have little idea what happened to it.

10:27am

Fri March 14, 2014
World

Satellite Signals From Missing Plane Raise Questions

Conflicting information raises even more questions about the fate of the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared nearly a week ago with 239 people on board.

Pages