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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4:35pm

Tue July 7, 2015
Asia

Chinese Stocks Take A Plunge Despite Government Efforts

Originally published on Wed July 8, 2015 7:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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11:53am

Tue June 30, 2015
Parallels

Single Mom Leads Double Life On The Streets Of Shanghai

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 3:59 pm

People walk on the Bund, the riverfront area next to the financial district in Shanghai. Many foreigners have descended on Shanghai to make money on China's economic expansion. NPR's Frank Langfitt met one such woman as part of the free taxi rides he's been offering.
Aly Song Reuters/Landov

Editor's Note: NPR Shanghai correspondent Frank Langfitt once drove a taxi as a summer job. He decided to do it again, this time offering free rides around Shanghai in exchange for stories about one of the world's most dynamic cities. Here's his latest installment.

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4:58am

Tue June 30, 2015
Parallels

Would You Buy A Used Car From A Man Named Beer Horse?

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 4:46 pm

NPR's Frank Langfitt has been offering free taxi rides around Shanghai to talk to ordinary Chinese. He drives a Camry around the city, but rented a van for a trip 500 miles outside the city earlier this year. He recently decided to buy a car, which can be a complicated process in China.
Yang Zhuo for NPR

I'd been renting a Toyota Camry to give free rides around the city for my series Streets of Shanghai, about the lives of ordinary Chinese. But the monthly rental fees were killing me, so I figured I could save money by buying a used car.

I went to a reputable used car dealership. The first hint that this would be different than shopping in the U.S. came when I met my salesman, a fresh college grad.

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5:02am

Tue June 23, 2015
Parallels

China's Island-Building Has Neighbors On Edge, But Tensions May Be Easing

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 9:27 am

Sun Jianguo (left), from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy, chats with U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in May during the ministerial luncheon at the 14th Asia Security Summit in Singapore. Each country has grown increasingly wary of the other's actions and interests in the South China Sea.
Roslan Rahman AFP/Getty Images

Chinese and American officials are deep into their annual meeting this week in Washington, hashing out the nations' complex relationship. In addition to many economic and strategic issues, they'll discuss China's remarkable island-building in the South China Sea.

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10:04am

Mon June 1, 2015
Parallels

A Rare, Spontaneous Democracy Debate In A Shanghai Taxi

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 10:46 pm

Wang, a young human rights lawyer, argues that Chinese people have to push the government to build a system of rule of law. She did not want her full face shown to protect her identity.
Frank Langfitt / NPR

Editor's Note: NPR's Frank Langfitt has been driving around Shanghai offering free rides as part of his "Streets of Shanghai" stories. But recently, he was a passenger in a taxi when something unusual happened.

Strangers rarely discuss politics in public in China, let alone the taboo topic, democracy. The Communist Party sees talk of political alternatives as a direct threat and has jailed people for promoting such ideas online.

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3:35am

Thu May 21, 2015
Asia

Why A Chinese Government Think Tank Attacked American Scholars

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 6:23 am

The Dzungar army surrenders to Manchu officers of the Qing Dynasty in 1759 in the Ili Valley, now part of China's Xinjiang region, in this painting made several years later by Chinese and Jesuit missionary artists.
Wikimedia Commons

Last month, a Chinese government think tank bashed history professors from Harvard, Georgetown and other leading American universities regarding things they wrote — at least 15 years ago — about events that occurred more than two centuries ago.

"This was a uniquely vitriolic attack," says Georgetown's Jim Millward. The article calls him as "arrogant," "overbearing" and an "imperialist," and dismisses Millward's and his colleagues' scholarship as "academically absurd."

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6:06am

Mon May 18, 2015
Asia

How China's Censors Influence Hollywood

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 7:58 pm

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall. Chinese censors cut a scene from the movie that they thought made China look weak. Because China is such a huge market, some U.S. moviemakers may choose to avoid portraying China in negative terms.
Danjaq/Eon Productions The Kobal Collection

7:53pm

Tue May 12, 2015
The Two-Way

China Smartphone Sales Shrink, Market 'Increasingly Saturated,' Report Says

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 9:39 am

Analysts say so many people in China already have smartphones, to sell more units, manufacturers will have to convince them to upgrade.
Andy Wong AP

Smartphone sales in China contracted by about 4 percent year-on-year from January through March, according to International Data Corp., the American market analysis firm. Sales for the first quarter were just under 100 million. IDC says this is the first time in six years that the smartphone market in China declined year-on-year.

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4:05pm

Mon May 11, 2015
Parallels

Shanghai Tower: A Crown For The City's Futuristic Skyline

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 10:40 am

The twisting Shanghai Tower (right) is the world's second-tallest building and opens soon.
Shen Zhonghai Gensler

Shanghai is one of the world's most vertical cities, a metropolis where 50-story buildings are routine. At night, the cityscape is so cinematic, it has been featured in both James Bond and Mission Impossible films.

This year, Shanghai Tower, the world's second-tallest building, will open and put an exclamation point on Shanghai's futuristic skyline. The structure, which measures 2,073 feet, is loaded with symbolism.

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2:51pm

Mon May 4, 2015
Parallels

People's Republic Of Uber: Making Friends, Chauffeuring People In China

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 3:38 pm

Joel Xu, 25, drives in Shanghai for People's Uber, a ride-sharing service. He makes about $4,000 a month – a good wage in Shanghai – and loves meeting new people he'd otherwise never encounter.
Frank Langfitt NPR

When Cici Xu isn't working as an accountant, she's driving around Shanghai picking up passengers for People's Uber, the American company's nonprofit ride-sharing service that operates in nine mainland Chinese cities.

Xu, 40, makes about $1,300 a month as a driver, but says she doesn't really do it for the money.

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