Frank Langfitt

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe. Previously, Langfitt spent five years as an NPR correspondent covering China. Based in Shanghai, he drove a free taxi around the city for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. As part of the series, Langfitt drove passengers back to the countryside for Chinese New Year and served as a wedding chauffeur. He also helped a Chinese-American NPR listener hunt for her missing sister in the mountains of Yunnan province.

While in China, Langfitt also reported on the government'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 Shanghai, Langfitt was NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi. He reported from Sudan, covered the civil war in Somalia 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 NPR's labor correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covered the 2008 financial crisis, the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler and coalmine disasters in West Virginia.

In 2008, Langfitt also 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.

Before coming to NPR, Langfitt spent five years as a correspondent in Beijing for The Baltimore Sun, covering a swath of Asia from East Timor to the Khyber Pass.

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. Prior to becoming a reporter, Langfitt dug latrines in Mexico and drove a taxi in his home town of Philadelphia. Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

There were times a few years back when the emergency room at SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse looked like a scene from a zombie movie. Dr. Ross Sullivan, a physician there, recalls one afternoon when staff wheeled in a man with dilated pupils who was covered in sweat. "The patient was screaming obscenities, and anybody he would pass, he was threatening and saying he was going to kill them," Sullivan recalls. Police suspected the patient had taken "bath salts," the notorious...

Need time off from work to watch the World Cup? If you're in China, no problem. Online stores there are providing fake doctor's notes — even extensive falsified medical records — to get you days of sick leave so you can enjoy your favorite teams. The service may be particularly appealing, given the time difference with World Cup host Brazil. China is 11 hours ahead of Rio. So if you want to catch opening matches, you have to start watching at midnight, Shanghai time. I'm not a big soccer fan,...

China has suffered small-scale terror attacks in the past that often targeted local government in out-of-the-way cities. In the past year, though, the attacks have taken an alarming turn. Ethnic militants have gone after civilians outside their homeland and employed a relatively new tactic: suicide. The change appeared to emerge in October last year, when several Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority from Xinjiang, the country's rugged, northwest region, drove a jeep into a crowd around...

Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: China came up yesterday when we interviewed President Obama. The president recently visited neighbors of China, including U.S. allies. The Chinese have confronted several of their neighbors in disputes over territory, which raised a question for the president. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST) INSKEEP: Does the United States have an interest beyond its specific alliances in preventing China from dominating East Asia and the waters around East Asia, where China...

Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Men driving SUVs plowed into a crowded vegetable market in China yesterday and threw explosive devices out of their vehicles. At least 31 people were killed and more than 90 injured. The attack took place in Urumqi, which is the capital of China's northwest region. It has a heavy concentration of Muslims. It is the second major attack in that city in less than a month. NPR's Frank Langfitt is in Urumqi and is on the line with us right now. Good morning, Frank....

Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have been all smiles as they emphasize improved relations between the two countries. Drawing them closer is their shared, tense relationship with the U.S..

Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: The United States economy has been the largest in the world since the days when Ulysses S. Grant was president. That was in the 1870s. But a new World Bank report says by one measure that could change by the end of this year: China would take over the top spot this year. To explain what the new report means and what it doesn't, we turn to NPR's Frank Langfitt. He's on the line from Shanghai. Hi, Frank. FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve. INSKEEP: I...

Transcript (SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTORS) DAVID GREENE, HOST: And this is what a protest sounded like a few days ago in Taiwan, more than 100,000 people protesting a new trade agreement building ties between Chinese and Taiwanese businesses. Students are also upset. They've been occupying Taiwan's legislature for almost two weeks now. NPR's Frank Langfitt explains why people are so angry. FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Demonstrators say the ruling Kuomintang party - which has close ties to China...

Host David Greene gets the latest from NPR's Frank Langfitt about the potential debris from Malaysia Flight 370 spotted by satellite imagery in the southern Indian Ocean.

Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: More mystery in the story of that missing jetliner. Malaysian officials say files from a flight simulator owned by the captain of the plane were deleted last month. They're trying to retrieve them. Investigators are examining the pilot's simulator to see if it provides any clues about the fate of the jet. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: The search for the plane has now expanded to nearly three million square miles. And finding it could hinge on countries sharing sensitive...

Conflicting information raises even more questions about the fate of the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared nearly a week ago with 239 people on board.

Lucy Skrine, 11, was walking through the bustling streets of Hong Kong a few months ago with fellow animal activists, holding signs in Chinese and English that read: "Say No to Ivory." "There was one mainland Chinese that came around, and she said, 'Why can't we buy ivory?' " the sixth-grader recalled. Lucy explained that poachers had to kill the elephant to extract the tusks. "When she learned this, she was like, 'What? I thought they fell out of the elephants,' " Lucy said. That brief...

Imagine living in China and missing Chinese food. It happens. American expatriates who grew up with popular takeout dishes like General Tso's chicken can't find it in China because it essentially doesn't exist here. Much of the Chinese food we grew up with isn't really Chinese. It's an American version of Chinese food. Chinese immigrants created it over time, adapting recipes with U.S. ingredients to appeal to American palates. Now, Americans living in Shanghai can get a fix of their beloved...

The wife of a top North Korean official who was executed last week appears to have survived the latest political purge in Pyongyang. Kim Kyong Hui, who is also the aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was named to an official funeral committee on Saturday. Analysts took it as a sign that she still retains power in the inner circle of North Korean leadership. Kim Kyong Hui was married to Jang Song Thaek, who had recently served as the country's second-in-command and was executed on...

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. "It only tends to...

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. The medical workers were reacting to a triple stabbing at the...

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. FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Chinese exports dropped point three percent in September from a year earlier. It was the worst performance in three months. Analysts...

The partial shutdown of the U.S. government has all sorts of costs — not only in the United States, but also overseas. President Obama had to cancel a trip this week to visit four nations in Asia so he could stay in Washington to deal with the political crisis. That has disappointed — even worried — some of America's friends in the region, who are counting on the United States to stand up to an increasingly assertive China. The disappointment over the president's no-show in Asia was palpable....

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.' " Then, NYU made her a...

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...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imZAeLziAdw Here are some of the recent news stories that went viral in China that you may have missed: The man who tried to smuggle his pet turtle onto a plane inside a hamburger box . The zoo that tried to pass off a Tibetan mastiff as a lion . And the 1 million cockroaches that escaped from a cockroach "nursery." Foreign news coverage of China is often deadly serious, focusing on topics such as politics, corruption, pollution and food safety. But China — like...

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." Although the case was not broadcast live, the Jinan Intermediate Court in east China's Shandong...

August is shaping up to be American music month in Shanghai. Metallica , the legendary heavy metal band, has just wrapped up its long-awaited China debut with two packed shows at the city's Mercedes-Benz Arena. This weekend, Limp Bizkit headlines a two-day festival. Next week, Aerosmith plays a Shanghai soccer stadium followed by a concert by Pitbull, the Cuban-American rapper from Miami. Song Yang, a bass player in a Chinese metal band called Spring and Autumn, flew in from Beijing to see...

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...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukgJDXbD89A The Baz Luhrmann remake of The Great Gatsby hasn't opened in China yet, but the story's themes — extravagant wealth, naked ambition and corruption — have been in full force here for years. Recently, a Shanghai publisher screened the 1974 version of the film, starring Robert Redford, to promote a new, bilingual translation of the novel. The gathering's barely hidden subtext was just how much the excesses of America in the Roaring '20s mirror those in...

The Guardian has identified its source for a series of reports it published in recent days on secret U.S. surveillance activity. The paper says the source is Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA who now works for a private-sector defense and technology consulting firm.

After years of distrust, China's government says it wants a new type of great power relationship with the United States. Chinese President Xi Jinping will begin trying to lay the groundwork Friday at a summit with President Obama in California, but just what kind of relationship does Xi want? "He wants to challenge the Cold War mentality, which believes that the existing power and also the emerging power cannot have a relationship other than conflictual," says Cheng Li, a specialist in...

Perhaps it was inevitable. Given the huge popularity of the six-story, yellow rubber ducky that's been bobbing around in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, companies in a number of mainland Chinese cities have decided to copy it. New ducks have popped up in the central city of Wuhan, the ancient city of Xi'an, the northern port city of Tianjin and Hengdian, a town in Zhejiang province that is home to a massive movie studio. The duck doubles have raised questions over copyright issues, according to...

A fire at a poultry processing plant fire in northeast China on Monday has killed at least 119 people, according to the Jilin province government. The blaze is one of the country's deadliest industrial accidents in recent years. Flames broke out a little after 6 a.m. and the sprawling, low-slung plant filled with dark smoke, witnesses said. About 300 workers were inside the facility owned by the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company in Mishazi Township of Dehui City. The state-run newspaper...

China's infamous bureaucracy has bedeviled people for ages, but in recent years, daily life in some major Chinese cities has become far more efficient. For instance, when I worked in Beijing in the 1990s, many reporters had drivers. It wasn't because they didn't drive, but because they needed someone to deal with China's crippling bureaucracy. I had a man named Old Zhao, who would drive around for days to pay our office bills at various government utility offices. Zhao would sit in line for...

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