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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3:56am

Tue February 3, 2015
Parallels

The Oscar Nominees Are In; The Shanghai DVD Sellers Are Stocking Up

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 11:40 pm

Some DVD vendors in Shanghai still sell on the street, but a government crackdown forced most out of business or into storefronts.
Frank Langfitt NPR

The Academy Awards are coming this month, and if you're still trying to see all the Oscar-nominated films, it may be easier to find them in China than in the U.S.

A few weeks ago, the films flooded into the pirated-DVD store down the street from my apartment in Shanghai. It happens like clockwork every year.

I asked T.J. Green, an American executive who runs a small movie theater company here in China, to visit the store and explain what was happening.

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1:34pm

Wed January 28, 2015
Parallels

China Continues To Push The (Fake) Envelope

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:20 pm

Some fake Apple stores like this one in Kunming, in China's southwestern Yunnan province, were so authentic-looking that even some of their employees didn't know they were fake.
Stephen Shaver UPI/Landov

Nobody does fake like China. In 2011, a fake Apple store popped up in the southwestern city of Kunming. It looked so authentic, even some employees thought it was real.

This year, three farmers in central China set up a fake local government.

This month, police shut down a fake bank in the eastern city of Nanjing, where depositors reportedly lost nearly $33 million.

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8:59am

Wed January 21, 2015
The Two-Way

Shanghai Fires 4 Officials Over Fatal New Year's Eve Stampede

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 2:57 am

On Jan. 1, people gathered at a makeshift memorial marking the site of a New Year's Eve stampede on the Bund in Shanghai, China. Three dozen people died, and dozens more were injured.
Kevin Frayer Getty Images

The Shanghai government has fired four local officials for failing to prevent a stampede that killed three dozen people on New Year's Eve. Those who lost their jobs include Shanghai's Huangpu district Communist Party chief, its director and its top two police officials.

Investigators say that as huge crowds packed the riverfront in the Huangpu district, district party Chief Zhou Wei and other officials were busy enjoying a banquet at an opulent Japanese restaurant nearby.

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11:23am

Fri January 2, 2015
Parallels

Along Shanghai's River, Buddhist Tradition Meets Greedy Fishermen

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 6:49 pm

Buddhists pour fish into the river in Shanghai. Environmentalists say the ritual, while well-intentioned, can introduce invasive species. Many of the fish are quickly swooped up in nets by fishermen who position themselves nearby.
Julia Langfitt for NPR

China today is a whirlwind of competing trends: authoritarianism versus personal freedom; pollution versus environmentalism, and self-interest versus spirituality.

That last conflict plays out every other Sunday morning in Shanghai when hundreds of Buddhists pack the banks of the city's Huangpu River. Monks in saffron-colored robes lead believers in song in the shadow of some of the world's tallest skyscrapers.

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12:51pm

Wed December 24, 2014
Parallels

China's Fierce Anti-Corruption Crackdown: An Insider's View

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:03 am

China's President Xi Jinping, shown speaking in Bruges, Belgium, back in April, has made fighting corruption one of his top priorities. Many Chinese bureaucrats are angry, saying a loss of bribes has greatly reduced their incomes.
Yves Logghe AFP/Getty Images

A government job in China used to be a gravy train: easy hours, little scrutiny and — usually — a chance to make good money through perks and corruption. This year, though, the 1.4 million candidates who signed up to take China's civil service exam marked a drop of more than 100,000 from the previous year.

Most people think the reason is the government's fierce anti-corruption drive, which has taken a lot of the profit out of public service. Recently, a low-level Shanghai official vented to NPR about life under China's toughest crackdown in modern memory.

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3:27am

Tue December 23, 2014
Parallels

Reporter Offers Free Cab Rides For Stories From 'Streets Of Shanghai'

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 10:30 am

NPR reporter Frank Langfitt and one of his "customers," a biotech worker, whom he drove to a self-help conference in Shanghai's sprawling Pudong District.
NPR

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. This is the first in an occasional series.

I've been working on an unusual reporting project this fall in Shanghai. I picked up a car and have been driving around the city offering people free rides.

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5:15am

Thu December 11, 2014
Asia

Police Finish Dismantling Hong Kong Protest Sites

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 9:14 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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5:08am

Fri November 14, 2014
Asia

To Lure Investors And Move Money, China Links Two Stock Markets

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:14 pm

Floor traders study stock prices in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2013.
Kin Cheung AP

Investors in Shanghai's stock market will for the first time on Monday be able to invest directly across the border in Hong Kong's Hang Seng stock exchange and vice versa.

The new system, called the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, will give foreign investors direct access to Shanghai's so-called A shares, including many blue chip, state-owned companies.

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10:46am

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 6:41 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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3:08pm

Fri November 7, 2014
Parallels

Capitalism Is Making China Richer, But Not Democratic

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 11:41 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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