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.

Pages

Middle East
4:40 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Sunni Cleric Rises To Challenge Hezbollah In Lebanon

Sheik Ahmad Assir speaks to supporters at a tent encampment set up in protest against Hezbollah in Sidon, Lebanon. He accuses the Islamist militant group of using resistance against Israel as a smokescreen for another aim: advancing Iranian regional hegemony.
Mohamad al-Baba NPR

Originally published on Sun August 12, 2012 9:45 am

On a recent day, baffled motorists honked their horns and veered around the blocked entrance to a major street in Sidon. Now Lebanon's third-largest city, Sidon was once a flourishing Phoenician city-state on the Mediterranean.

The street was closed off by Sunni cleric Sheik Ahmad Assir, who erected a small tent encampment in protest against the country's most powerful military and political force, the militant Islamist group Hezbollah.

Read more
Asia
5:40 am
Mon August 6, 2012

Myanmar's Workers Exercise Rights To Organize

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 1:50 pm

Political and economic changes in Myanmar have fueled a wave of labor unrest in the country also known as Burma. Myanmar is in the very early stages of industrial development and has some of the lowest wages in the world. Wages are unlikely to reach levels seen elsewhere in the region anytime soon.

Middle East
8:07 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Rebels In Syria Respond To Crescendo Of Criticism

A picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network purportedly shows Syrian rebels celebrating after taking over a police station in the Ansari district of Aleppo on Friday.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 11:43 am

For the second weekend in a row, observers are predicting a major government offensive against rebels in Syria's largest city, Aleppo. Fierce fighting has also been reported in parts of the capital, Damascus. Allegations of atrocities on both sides of the conflict have prompted a crescendo of criticism from the outside world.

Both sides claim to have gained the upper hand in the fighting over Aleppo, the country's commercial hub and the main city in the north. The government said last week that it had killed many rebels in Aleppo and would soon restore peace to the city.

Read more
Middle East
6:01 am
Mon July 30, 2012

In Syria, Building Up For An Extended Battle

Syrian rebels patrol the streets near Aleppo, Syria.
EPA /Landov

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 5:11 pm

Government troops are battling rebels for control of Syria's largest city, Aleppo. The government launched a major offensive over the weekend to retake neighborhoods held by the Free Syrian Army. Both sides appear to be preparing for an extended battle that could prove crucial to the outcome of the 17-month-old uprising.

After days of massing troops and weapons, the government assaulted rebel-held neighborhoods with tanks, helicopters and artillery, as heard in an amateur video uploaded to YouTube.

Read more
World
6:12 pm
Sun July 29, 2012

Cars For Clunkers: Myanmar Swaps Old Rides For New

An old taxi is pushed toward a vehicle license office to be exchanged for an import permit in Yangon, Myanmar. As many Burmese citizens take cars as an investment, many imports are sold and resold with a higher markup.
Soe Zeya Tun Reuters/Landov

Nowhere are the many recent reforms in Myanmar, also known as Burma, so evident as on city streets. Until this year, they were often choked with ancient jalopies because for most of the past half century ordinary Burmese citizens weren't allowed to purchase imported cars.

But the country's car import policies are now undergoing a lurching sort of liberalization, whose speed, quirks and unintended consequences offer a window on Myanmar's reforms.

Read more
Asia
3:19 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Cheered In Europe, Suu Kyi Faces Crises In Myanmar

Rohingya Muslims, trying to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence in Myanmar, look on from an intercepted boat in Teknaf, June 13. The plight of the Rohingya minority is one of the tests Suu Kyi faces at home.
Munir Uz Zaman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 10:23 am

There are few opposition leaders who are welcomed abroad with the same pomp and ceremony as heads of state. But that's the sort of star treatment lavished on Aung San Suu Kyi, opposition leader of Myanmar, also known as Burma, on her three-week tour of Europe.

But pressure is increasing on her to address simmering political crises at home, and to move her country's democratic changes forward.

In Geneva, Oslo, Dublin, London and Paris, Suu Kyi issued eloquent pleas for ethical foreign investment in Myanmar and foreign support for her country's ongoing reforms.

Read more
World
12:52 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Will Reforms End Myanmar Monks' Spiritual Strike?

Buddhists donate food and other necessities to monks as a way of earning merit for future lives. Monks have refused donations of alms from the military as a political protest in 1990 and 2007, a boycott that some monks insist is still in effect.
Ye Aung Thu AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 10:26 pm

In response to political reforms in Myanmar — also known as Burma — the U.S. and other Western countries have eased some sanctions targeting the country's former military rulers.

But so far, one of the most powerful institutions inside the country has kept its sanctions in place. For some time, Myanmar's Buddhist clergy have effectively been on a spiritual strike by refusing to take donations from the military — a serious blow to the former regime's legitimacy.

Read more
World
6:23 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Time At Oxford Spurred Suu Kyi's Burma Activism

Aung San Suu Kyi finally received her honorary degree from Oxford University after it was initially awarded in 1993. In her speech, Suu Kyi praised Oxford for helping her see humankind at its best during her long years under house arrest in Myanmar.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 9:16 pm

Aung San Suu Kyi would probably not be the symbol of Burma's quest for democracy without her experiences at Oxford University. She studied there in the 1960s and raised a family there in the '70s.

Suu Kyi returned to her alma mater Wednesday to receive the honorary degree she was unable to collect for more than a decade while under house arrest.

Read more
Europe
4:46 am
Wed June 20, 2012

Oxford To Honor Suii Kyi After Years Of House Arrest

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 9:26 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more
Asia
3:54 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

A Nobel Acceptance Speech — Two Decades Overdue

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi is heading to Europe for the first time in more than two decades and will be giving a series of high-profile speeches She's shown here on June 2 meeting with Myanmarese refugees who are living in camps in Thailand.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 10:49 pm

Aung San Suu Kyi heads to Europe Wednesday, where she'll deliver a speech she was invited to give more than two decades ago: the one for her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, which she was unable to collect while under house arrest.

In Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, at the headquarters of Suu Kyi's party, spokesman U Nyan Win says she is busy writing speeches for her extended trip to Europe, including the visit to Oslo for the belated Nobel address this weekend.

Read more
Asia
10:06 am
Sun June 3, 2012

'Like Our Own Mother': Aung San Suu Kyi In Thailand

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi waves to Myanmar refugees during her visit to the Mae La refugee camp near the Thai-Myanmar border on Saturday.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun June 3, 2012 7:36 pm

On her first journey abroad in 24 years, Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi upstaged and dazzled world leaders with her statesmanship and charisma.

Suu Kyi attended an international economic forum in Thailand last week, but Saturday was very different. She visited a camp on the Thai-Myanmar border, where refugees have fled to escape oppression and civil war in her homeland. The visit showed that despite becoming one of the most prominent politicians in Asia, her political situation at home remains a bit precarious.

Read more
Asia
4:01 pm
Mon May 28, 2012

For Future Energy, Volcanic Indonesia Bets On Heat

A local resident entertains visitors to the Kawah Kamojang geothermal field in West Java. He puts a length of bamboo to the steam coming from the ground to make a whistle, then throws soda cans into the vent, which shoots them high into the air. The Dutch colonial government drilled Indonesia's first geothermal wells at Kamojang in 1926, when the country was still known as the Dutch East Indies.
Yosef Riadi for NPR

Originally published on Mon May 28, 2012 11:30 pm

Indonesia, the country with the world's largest number of active volcanoes, is betting that all the hot rocks will provide a clean and reliable energy source for the future.

The country is believed have 40 percent of the world's geothermal energy resources. But making geothermal energy economically feasible will require adjusting the country's heavily subsidized energy prices. And that issue is a political hot potato.

Unused Potential

Read more
Asia
1:20 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Hard-Line Muslims Confront Indonesia's Christians

Muslims (in the foreground) face a group of Christians during a bloody clash in Ambon, the provincial capital of Indonesia's Maluku Island, on Sept. 11, 2011. The riot exposed deep fault lines between Christians and Muslims in Indonesia.
Angkotasan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 9:37 pm

In the city of Bekasi, Indonesia, outside Jakarta, a handful of Christians head to Sunday worship. But before they can reach their destination, they are stopped and surrounded by a large crowd of local Muslims who jeer at them and demand that they leave.

This is the Filadelfia congregation, a Lutheran group. They are ethnic Bataks from the neighboring island of Sumatra who have migrated to Bekasi, and they have been blocked from holding services on several occasions. Recently, a journalist who demonstrated in support of the congregation was beaten by an angry mob.

Read more
Asia
4:41 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

U.S. Forces In Australia Draw Mixed Reaction

U.S. Marines are shown during a training exercise south of Darwin, Australia. Marines recently arrived in Australia as part of a move by the U.S. to place greater emphasis on Asia and the Pacific.
Glenn Campbell The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 7:34 pm

Since a small contingent of Marines landed in the northern port town of Darwin last month, the U.S. has shown greater interest in using Australian military facilities as part of a larger effort to refocus its military capabilities in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific.

"We have no better ally or friend in the world than Australia, and we have no area in the world which is as important or dynamic over the next 50 years as the Asia Pacific," says Jeffrey Bleich, the U.S. ambassador to Australia.

Read more
Asia
3:08 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Australia's Poker Machines: Are They Too Popular?

Gambling machines are extremely popular in Australia, and there are concerns about the level of gambling addiction. Opinion polls show that many Australians would like to see greater regulation of gambling.
Paul Miller Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 7:49 pm

It's a weekday night at the Welcome Stranger pub in downtown Melbourne. Tom Cummings, who used to be a regular here, shows me around the gaming room.

"This machine here, which is called Shaman's Magic, has four different jackpots that you can win. If you'd like to give it a whirl, you can see how you go," says Cummings.

The machines here take Australian $50 bills (Australian dollars are currently worth almost exactly the same as U.S. dollars). You can lose $1,200 in an hour. And a win is not always what it appears to be.

Read more
Asia
3:34 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Drama Amid Indonesia's Disappearing Mangroves

A man gathering firewood to sell cuts down mangrove trees in the coastal area of Medan city on Indonesia's Sumatra island on Jan. 31. The country, which has one-quarter of the world's mangroves, is losing them at a rate of 6 percent a year. The coastal forests play important ecological and environmental roles.
Suntanta Aditya AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 7:36 am

The rising tide laps at the feet of local children and fishermen and submerges all but the tops of the mangrove trees of Tiwoho village in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province. At one degree of latitude north of the equator, the climate here is about the same all year round: hot, wet and perfect for the forests of salt-tolerant trees that grow along sheltered coastlines.

Read more
Asia
3:22 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Exposing Indonesia's Cold War Communist Purge

Indonesian President Sukarno (left) surrenders his executive powers to Gen. Suharto, Feb. 22, 1967, in Jakarta. Suharto led the anti-communist purge and ruled the country until 1998.
AP

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 11:29 am

The wall of silence in Indonesia surrounding one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century is beginning to fall apart. A forthcoming report by Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights estimates that a purge of suspected communists during the mid-1960s killed between 600,000 and 1 million people.

The violence reshaped Indonesia's political landscape and affected the course of the Cold War, just as the U.S. was escalating its fight against communism in Southeast Asia.

Read more
NPR Story
8:00 am
Sun April 1, 2012

Myanmar Holds Landmark Election

Supporters of the opposition National League for Democracy celebrate their victory in parliamentary elections outside the party headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday. The results could help to consolidate support for political reforms and herald the end of foreign sanctions on the country.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:33 pm

Supporters of the main opposition party in Myanmar, also known as Burma, filled the streets of the capital, celebrating Sunday a projected victory in closely watched parliamentary by-elections, as the party announced that its leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won a seat in the country's parliament for the first time.

Read more
Asia
4:50 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Myanmar Hurriedly Prepares For An Election

A man holds a portrait of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally for a candidate of her National League for Democracy party on Friday. The country is holding elections for some parliamentary seats on Sunday.
Christophe Archambault AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 5:33 pm

In Myanmar's capital, Yangon, there's an unremarkable old building that's drawing people from around the world.

It's the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the political opposition party headed by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. This weekend, she is running for elective office for the first time, and the humble house has become the focus of even greater attention.

Read more
Asia
3:27 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Myanmar's Election Seen As A Test Of Reforms

Myanmar opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to supporters on Saturday. Voting in parliamentary elections this Sunday is considered a test of the political reforms that Myanmar's rulers have introduced over the past year.
Khin Maung Win AP

Myanmar has an election this Sunday where only a small fraction of the parliamentary seats are at stakes — and yet the ballot is commanding international attention.

The closely watched election is seen as a test of whether the country's rulers are sincere about reforms they have been introducing over the past year.

If the vote is seen as free and fair, it could prompt Western governments to begin lifting sanctions imposed during the half-century of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Read more
Movies
12:01 am
Wed March 28, 2012

In Japan, 'Sliced-Up Actors' Are A Dying Breed

Fukumoto in one of the numerous period costume dramas he has acted in for the Toei Company's film studios since he began work there in 1959.
Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Japan is home to Asia's oldest and largest motion-picture industry, with its own unique genres and traditions. While every film industry has stuntmen, only Japan has a class of actors whose main job is to be sliced and diced by samurai sword-wielding protagonists. But the decline of period dramas means that this class of actors is literally a dying breed.

Read more
Rebuilding Japan
2:39 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Rethinking, Not Just Rebuilding, Japan's Northeast

Demolished ships lie strewn about near the fishing port of Minamisanriku town, in Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, Feb. 23, 2012. The local fisherman's union says last year's tsunami wiped out 90 percent of local fishing boats.
Yuriko Makao Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 9:56 pm

With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.

By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year's tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country's northeast.

Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn't know yet where she wants to live and work.

Read more
Asia
8:00 am
Sun March 11, 2012

Japanese Village Marks Disasters' Anniversary

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 9:49 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Japan is remembering the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered a nuclear crisis a year ago today. At 2:46 P.M. local time, trains stopped, sirens blared, and people across Japan bowed their heads in silence. But one year on, rebuilding has not even begun on much of the country's devastated northeast coast.

And as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports, the fishing town of Minamisanriku is still too early for most of the wounds to heal.

(SOUNDBITE OF A BELL AND A CHANTING BUDDHIST MONK)

Read more
Rebuilding Japan
12:01 am
Fri March 9, 2012

A Year On, Japan Is Still Looking For The Road Ahead

Members of the media, wearing protective suits and masks, visit the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power station during a press tour, in northeastern Japan's Fukushima prefecture, Feb. 28. Japan is marking the first anniversary of the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, which triggered the worst nuclear accident in the country's history.
Kimimasa Mayama AP

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:09 am

A year after suffering the worst nuclear accident in its history, Japan is still struggling to understand what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the country's northeast.

Last week, an independent commission released a report arguing that Japan narrowly averted what could have been a far deadlier disaster and that the government withheld this information from the public.

Read more
Asia
3:58 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

How Far Will The Changes In Myanmar Go?

Supporters greet Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, atop her vehicle, as she arrives at an election campaign rally in Thongwa village, Myanmar, on Sunday. The country's new government is holding legislative elections on April 1.
Altaf Qadri AP

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 3:00 pm

Once an international pariah ruled by a repressive military regime, Myanmar has in recent months become one of Southeast Asia's hottest destinations.

Last year, a nominally civilian government took over and began political changes in the country also known as Burma. Now, foreign investors and tourists are flooding in, and foreign governments are considering lifting their sanctions.

Read more
Asia
4:00 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Thailand Squeezed In Iran-Israel Shadow War

Originally published on Sun February 19, 2012 8:47 am

Thailand says three Iranians arrested this week were planning to assassinate Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. The bombs went off on Tuesday, wounding one Iranian and four Thai residents. Since then, Israel and Iran have been trading accusations of waging shadow warfare against each other through a series of recent attempted assassinations in several countries.

Asia
12:01 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Opposition Leader Bets On Myanmar Reforms

Ethnic Karen women welcome opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to War Thein Kha village. The area is in Kawhmu Township, which Suu Kyi is campaigning to represent in Myanmar's parliament.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:31 pm

The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.

But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.

Read more
Religion
12:01 am
Mon January 30, 2012

'Obedient Wives Club' Irks Some Muslims In Malaysia

Last June, some employees at the Global Ikhwan Café, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, established the Obedient Wives Club. Global Ikhwan (Ikhwan is Arabic for "brotherhood") owns businesses in several countries.

Since then, it has been castigated for what Muslim and non-Muslim critics call a "medieval and oppressive interpretation of Islam."

The controversy surprised club organizer Dr. Azlina Jamaluddin. She says that her group is merely suggesting a way to deal with social problems in Malaysia such as a rising divorce rate.

Read more
Asia
3:43 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

In Malaysia, Student Challenges Limits On Politics

Student activist Adam Adli addresses protesters outside Malaysia's high court in Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 9. The crowd was awaiting a verdict in the trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was acquitted on charges of sodomy shortly afterward. Adam is leading the fight to abolish a decades-old law that bans college students from joining or speaking in support of political parties.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 10:16 pm

In Asia's modern history, college students have played a leading role in pushing for political reform and challenging authoritarian regimes.

Adam Adli is one of these student activists, and is becoming a prominent political figure as he fights to abolish a 40-year-old law that bars college students in the prosperous Southeast Asian country from participating in politics.

The 22-year-old was among the crowd of thousands chanting "reformasi," or reform, outside Malaysia's high court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Jan. 9.

Read more
Asia
3:29 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Indonesian Economy Booms, Its Infrastructure Groans

Motorists inch their way in heavy traffic in Palembang, Sumatra, in Indonesia. The nation's rapid growth is overwhelming its weak public infrastructure.
Ted Aljibe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 10:40 pm

Indonesia has one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it's already the largest in Southeast Asia. This growth and stability recently earned it a major credit upgrade at a time when Western countries are fearful of downgrades.

Yet this vibrant economy has an Achilles' heel: its crumbling, overwhelmed infrastructure.

The problem becomes painfully apparent this time every year, when the rainy season fills commuters with dread in the capital, Jakarta, and many other cities.

Read more

Pages