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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4:02pm

Thu November 28, 2013
Asia

China's Latest Territorial Moves Renew Fears In Philippines

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 9:24 pm

U.S. and Philippine navy personnel patrol the seas off a naval base west of Manila in June as part of joint exercises.
Ted Aljibe AFP/Getty Images

China is flexing its muscles these days. Over the weekend, it declared a sprawling air defense identification zone that covers disputed islands controlled by Japan. And it has sent its lone aircraft carrier for first-time trials in the South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial feuds with other neighbors, including Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.

None of this was making China any friends in Manila, where the Chinese government is particularly unpopular these days.

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8:48am

Mon November 25, 2013
Parallels

After The Storm: Commerce Returns To Damaged Philippines City

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 1:11 pm

In the past week, this street market in Tacloban has grown exponentially as people try to earn money to rebuild their lives.
Frank Langfitt/ NPR

Commerce has returned to the storm-savaged streets of Tacloban in the past week. People sell bananas along the roads, and a bustling market has sprung up across several blocks downtown.

Jimbo Tampol, who works for a local Coca-Cola distributor, drives across Tacloban selling ice-cold sodas from coolers. In a city where there is no electricity and little refrigeration, a cold soda is a big deal, a symbol of normalcy.

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5:53pm

Wed November 20, 2013
Asia

China Sends 'Peace Ark' To Philippines Via Choppy Political Seas

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 6:57 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

China is sending a state-of-the art hospital ship to help typhoon victims in the Philippines. This comes after widespread criticism that an earlier offer of aid was stingy. China, the world's second-largest economy, initially pledged a total of just $200,000. By way of comparison, IKEA has pledged more than 10 times that amount.

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5:52am

Mon November 11, 2013
Asia

Western Media In China: Adjusting To The 'Anaconda'

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:15 pm

An exterior view of the Bloomberg building in New York. Bloomberg staffers say editors spiked a story that exposed financial ties between a tycoon and family members of top Chinese officials.
Eduardo Munoz Reuters /Landov

Last weekend was a bad one for foreign reporting in China.

Staffers at Bloomberg News accused their own editors of spiking an investigative story to avoid the wrath of the Communist Party, and the wire service Reuters confirmed Chinese officials had denied a visa application for a hard-hitting reporter after an eight-month wait.

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4:47am

Fri November 8, 2013
Asia

China's Challenge: How To Keep Economic Boom Alive

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 7:44 pm

Office workers walk past China Dream propaganda boards, showing messages pushed by current Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration, on display near a construction site in Beijing on Oct. 8. The country's leaders are meeting this weekend to chart China's economic course.
Andy Wong AP

How do you keep the world's longest economic win streak alive?

That's the question China's leaders face at a meeting that opens Saturday in Beijing. The meeting, known as the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, is the most important of its kind in years, and for the planet's second-largest economy, a lot hangs in the balance.

In decades past, meetings like this have been game changers. Consider the one in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping officially shut the door on the chaotic Mao era.

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10:28am

Wed November 6, 2013
Parallels

In Violent Hospitals, China's Doctors Can Become Patients

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 8:45 pm

People wait in line at a counter for medical services at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine hospital in Beijing.
David Gray Reuters /Landov

Several hundred doctors and nurses jammed the courtyard of the No. 1 People's Hospital in Wenling, a city with a population of about 1 million in Zhejiang province, a four-hour train ride south of Shanghai.

They wore surgical masks to hide their identities from the government and waved white signs that read, "Zero tolerance for violence."

"Doctors and nurses must be safe to take care of people's health!" video shows them chanting.

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11:28am

Wed October 30, 2013
Parallels

Someone In Central China Really Stinks At Photoshop

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 1:32 pm

In a photo originally posted to a county government website, local officials purportedly visit a 100-year-old woman in Anhui province. They sure are tall, aren't they? And what happened to the legs of the guy on the right?
Ningguo Civil Affairs Department via Chinanews.com

Local Chinese government propagandists have outdone themselves in what seems to be the increasingly competitive category of bad Photoshop.

This week's entry hails from Ningguo County in central China's Anhui province. The workmanship is so bad, it seems almost, well, effortless.

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3:12am

Wed October 23, 2013
Parallels

Desperate Chinese Villagers Turn To Self-Immolation

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:07 am

Relatives of He Mengqing walk in front of his house, which the local government has slated for demolition. The rice farmer from Chenzhou in China's Hunan province rejected a government offer of compensation for his land; he set himself on fire when officials came for him.
Frank Langfitt NPR

In order to turn China into an urban nation, local governments have demolished tens of millions of homes over the past decade. Homeowners have often fought back, blocking heavy machinery and battling officials.

In recent years, resistance has taken a disturbing turn: Since 2009, at least 53 people across China have lit themselves on fire to protest the destruction of their homes, according to human rights and news reports.

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4:31am

Mon October 14, 2013
Asia

China Experiences Surprise Drop In Exports

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a slide in Chinese exports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Chinese exports showed a surprise drop last month, according to government figures.

As NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, the September numbers underscore some of the challenges facing the world's second-largest economy.

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4:55am

Mon October 7, 2013
Business

Political Crisis Keeps Obama From Asia-Pacific Summit

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 6:20 am

Leaders of Asia-Pacific countries are wrapping up an economic summit in Indonesia. Much of the talk in the region over the weekend focused on the event's big no show: President Obama. Because of the partial government shutdown in the U.S., the president decided to stay at home and monitor developments.

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