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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4:24pm

Fri September 27, 2013
Movie Interviews

A Brutal Movie From China, Ripped From The Headlines

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 8:29 pm

In one of the four intertwining storylines of the brutal Chinese drama A Touch of Sin, a young receptionist (Zhao Tao) must resort to violence to defend herself.
Kino Lorber

If you want to see modern Chinese life at its darkest, consider A Touch of Sin.

The film is a series of loosely knit vignettes that revolve around themes of violence, greed, sex, power and crime. And there's nothing subtle about the imagery.

In one scene, a corrupt businessman tries to force a receptionist at a massage parlor to have sex with him by beating her with wads of cash — until she stabs him to death.

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3:55am

Fri September 27, 2013
Asia

Shanghai To Open Free-Trade Zone To Boost China's Growth

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 6:07 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the NPR business zone, we'll talk about an experiment in China.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: On Sunday, Shanghai will open a free trade zone that officials say will be a laboratory for reforming the world's second-largest economy.

As NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, the new zone is getting a lot of media attention in China but the details remain sketchy.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: The formula of low-wage labor and cheap exports that transformed China from a backwater into a global economic power has run out of steam.

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3:41pm

Wed September 25, 2013
Parallels

For Some NYU Students, A Sweet Deal To Study ... In Shanghai

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:58 am

The university is currently located on the leafy campus of East China Normal University. Next year, NYU Shanghai will move to a 15-story building in the city's financial district.
Frank Langfitt NPR

First-year college student Stephanie Ulan, from Queens, N.Y., had her sights set on New York University, in the heart of Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

She got her wish — sort of.

At first, the school offered her a generous scholarship but told her and her father they'd still have to take out big loans.

"My father is 62 years old," says Ulan, who plans to major in international relations. "There was a big scene and he flipped out and he was, like, 'I can't do that.' "

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3:44am

Fri September 20, 2013
Parallels

Visit Paris And Venice In The Same Afternoon (In China)

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 2:54 pm

Sky City, a replica of Paris, is a 40-minute drive from Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang province. The rich people that developers hoped would move here never materialized.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Want to visit Paris and Venice in the same afternoon?

You can, if you're in China.

Chinese developers have for years built residential communities that mimic famous European cities and towns. They are the subject of a new book, Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China.

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11:06am

Wed September 18, 2013
Asia

China's Debate: Must The Party Follow The Constitution?

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

A police officer blocks photos from being taken outside Zhongnanhai, the central headquarters for the Communist Party of China, in Beijing last year.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Several weeks back, officials with the East China University of Political Science and Law met one of its professors, Zhang Xuezhong, at his favorite hangout, a coffeehouse in Shanghai.

Sitting in a private room, they told him he was suspended from teaching for articles he had posted on the Internet. In them, Zhang had argued that China's government needs to build a real rule of law — one to which even the party is accountable — as well as a system of checks and balances.

One way to start, he says, is to live up to the promises made in China's 1982 constitution.

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1:57pm

Thu August 29, 2013
Parallels

Too Weird To Be True? In China, You Never Can Tell

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 5:47 pm

A zoo in central China's Henan province swapped a dog — a Tibetan mastiff like the one shown here — for a lion, in another story that recently swept Chinese cyberspace.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Here are some of the recent news stories that went viral in China that you may have missed:

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1:56pm

Thu August 22, 2013
The Two-Way

Bo Xilai's Corruption Trial In China Kicks Off With A Twist

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 7:07 pm

In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, Bo Xilai appears Thursday on the first day of his trial in eastern China's Shandong province. Interestingly, he was photographed flanked by two very tall policemen.
AP

In China, recent Communist Party show trials have featured cowed defendants acknowledging their crimes and offering apologies. Not this one.

The country's biggest trial in decades kicked off Thursday with the defendant, former politburo member Bo Xilai, denying guilt, claiming his confession was coerced and branding the testimony of one of his accusers — in this case his wife — "laughable."

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2:55am

Thu August 22, 2013
Parallels

China's College Grads Face A New Reality: Fewer Jobs

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 7:03 pm

Thousands descended on a job fair in Shanghai earlier this year. This summer nearly 7 million people graduated from Chinese colleges, but jobs are harder to find than in previous years.
Frank Langfitt/NPR

It's been about two months since college graduation, and more than 3 million graduates from this year and last still don't have jobs, according to government officials.

That's not in the U.S., but in China.

China is home to the world's fastest-growing major economy. But with nearly 7 million college graduates this year, a record number, finding work is tough and a worry for the ruling Communist Party.

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1:59pm

Wed August 7, 2013
Parallels

'It's Too Hot': Shanghai Wilts In Record-Setting Heat Wave

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 6:41 pm

People cool off Wednesday in a pool in Shanghai, where temperatures reached an all-time record: 105.4 degrees.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Temperatures Wednesday in Shanghai hit an all-time high: 105.4 degrees, according to officials here. It was the hottest day in 140 years, since the government began keeping records.

The Chinese megacity is in the midst of its hottest summer ever.

Usually bustling streets are near empty at noon and thousands have gone to hospitals for relief. To get a feel for how people are handling the heat wave, I waded into a public pool in the city's Hankou district. By early afternoon, the temperature was 98 degrees in the shade, according to the thermometer I brought along.

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5:42pm

Fri July 5, 2013
Parallels

Gatsby-Like Extravagance And Wealth ... In Communist China

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:37 pm

A waiter delivers glasses of wine to guests at a luxury hotel bar near the Bund in Shanghai, on Sept. 8, 2012.
Aly Song Reuters /Landov

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