China

Word of Mouth
2:48 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

2.4.15: The Myth Of A Scandinavian Utopia, Ikea Hacking, & Good Gig

Rådhuset station in Stockholm, Sweden
Credit Don McCullough via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/pGTbyX

The media often portrays Sweden as a modernist utopia – where blond-haired trend makers export upbeat pop music, hip furniture and meat balls, and parents enjoy unparalleled family leave. On today’s show: debunking the myth of the Scandinavian utopia.

And we uncover a growing trend among the DIY set: Ikea hacking, where people use Ikea’s raw materials to create their own customized furniture.

And our series Good Gig continues with a meteorologist based on the beautiful, but often inhospitable, summit of Mount Washington.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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Word of Mouth
12:52 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

10.2.14: Embracing Invasive Species & The Rise Of Refrigeration In China

Magnificent, though invasive. This bee originates in the South China, Korea, Japan part of the world, but has been introduced into North America now and spread as far as Colorado, likely will go all the way to the West Coast.
Credit USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

Invasive species like zebra mussels to Asian carp, are destroying biodiversity across North America. Or are they? On today’s show: the upside of invasive species.

Then, a look into China’s push to build a frozen food infrastructure. The number of urban Chinese households with a refrigerator has risen from just 7% to 95% in a decade. We’ll find out what that means for global climate change.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

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Word of Mouth
12:42 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

8.25.14: The Climate Saving Power Of Whale Poo & China's Internet Superpower

Credit kohane via Flickr CC

 

  Today, about 70 percent of the earth’s oxygen comes from marine plants. We slip beneath the surface to find out how a rebounding whale population could help spur phytoplankton growth…and slow climate change. But first: more than 4000 wells have been drilled since 2008, and the county expects to be pumping for decades. A UNH professor explains why he set out to learn more about North Dakota’s oil country, by walking 65 miles across it. Plus, we take a look at the China-based e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, the most powerful company you’ve never heard about.

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Word of Mouth
2:09 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

8.06.14: Why Invasive Species Aren't All Bad, Refrigeration In China, And Dining Hall Hacks

"A Beautiful Invasive. Ceratina smaragdula, male, captured on Hawaii, Oahu, March 2012. This Asian species, along with others has invaded the Hawaiian islands where it thrives in sea of introduced garden plants found at lower elevations on the islands." -USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab
Credit USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr

Today on Word of Mouth, invasive species like Zebra Mussels to Asian Carp, are destroying biodiversity across North America. Or are they? Also, we'll look into China’s push to build a frozen food infrastructure. The number of urban Chinese households with a refrigerator has risen from just 7 percent to 95 percent in a decade. We’ll find out what that means for global climate change.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


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Word of Mouth
2:04 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

7.28.14:The Fuel Walk, The Power Of Whale Poo, And The Biggest Company You've Never Heard Of

Credit National Marine Sanctuaries via Flickr CC

The oil boom is on in McKenzie county, North Dakota. More than 4000 wells have been drilled since 2008, and the county expects to be pumping for decades. Today, a UNH professor explains why he set out to learn more about North Dakota’s oil country, by walking 65 miles across it. Then, about 70 percent of the earth’s oxygen comes from marine plants. We slip beneath the surface to find out how a rebounding whale population could help spur phytoplankton growth…and slow climate change. Plus, we take a look at the China-based e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, the most powerful company you’ve never heard about.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


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The Exchange
9:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

American Politics And The Asian Pacific

Credit jmawork / Flickr Creative Commons

The administration wants  to “pivot east” - to move away from Europe and the Middle East and more towards Japan, South Korea, and especially China - given its economic and military power.

GUESTS:

  • Kathleen Molony – director and executive committee member of the Fellows Program at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She was formerly the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade.
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Word of Mouth
9:53 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Why Your Mother Will Love 'Bubbe's Law'

Credit starleigh via Flickr Creative Commons

On July 1st, the Chinese government enacted a new law called the “Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People”.  It is, in effect, a state-sponsored guilt trip for the adult children of older parents…stipulating the need for frequent visits, phone calls, etc.

Retired teacher and computer consultant Barry Davis read about the new law in the New York Times... then wrote an op-ed suggesting America follow suit with its own “Bubbe’s Law”, as he calls it.  We tracked Barry down at his home in Connecticut for more.

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Word of Mouth
10:14 am
Wed May 29, 2013

The Battlefront Against Cyber Attackers Is An Adorable Miniature City

Ed Skoudis

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Chinese hackers had gained access to the designs of more than two dozen US weapons systems, including combat ships, aircraft, and missile defense systems. Although China denied the claims in the Defense Department report cited by the post, that country’s government announced earlier today that they have plans to conduct China’s first “digital military” exercise next week. President Obama and the Pentagon have increasingly addressed concerns about government-backed Chinese hackers in recent months, and next week, the president is scheduled to discuss cyber security with China’s president.

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Arts & Culture
3:38 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Tasting China's Most Expensive Teas

Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

In China, early April is prime time for tea picking.

In New Hampshire, the Confucius Institute a partnership between the University of New Hampshire and Chengdu University in China — honored the season this week with a tea sampling at the UNH-Manchester campus.

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Word of Mouth
11:19 am
Tue March 5, 2013

How Chinese Students Are Gaming The US Admissions Process

Credit theunquietlibrary via flickr Creative Commons

The SAT still holds rank as the most popular standardized test used by college admissions offices.  In 2005, complaints about the SAT’s limitations led to the addition of an essay portion, a new format designed to be harder to “game.” But one test prep company found a way to trump the SAT and other admission exams, and it’s based...in China. Daniel Golden is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who covered the firm called “New Oriental” for Bloomberg Businessweek, we spoke to him in 2011, when his article was published.

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Word of Mouth
9:13 am
Mon February 25, 2013

"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"

Ai Weiwei with filmmaker Alison Klayman
Credit via pbs.org

Ai Weiwei is China’s best known artist and the sharpest thorn in the side of its government. He’s a humorous and clever digital dissident, whose installations, viral videos, and tweets mock Chinese censors, and have made him an international symbol for freedom.      

After years of attempting to cozy up to him with bribes and favors, the Chinese government turned on Ai Weiwei, charging him with tax evasion and bulldozing his freshly built studio in Shanghai. Then, on April 3, 2011, he disappeared.

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Word of Mouth
11:08 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Celebrating China's Spring Festival In New England

The traditional red lanterns of Chinese New Year

This week marks the start of the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year. This fifteen-day celebration is the longest and most important holiday in China, featuring family reunions, fireworks, traditional meals, red lanterns, and the traditional gift of the Hong Bao, or Red Packet.

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Word of Mouth
9:02 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Immigration Reform's Affect On Asian-Americans

Credit marlonius via flickr Creative Commons

With all the talk of how immigration reform will affect our neighbors to the South, we look at how it might affect immigrants to the United States from the Far East. 

A US based Chinese Journalist even argues that certain aspects of  the reforms might actually be beneficial for Asian immigrants. Mee Moua, Executive Director from the Asian American Justice Center joins us to discuss the issue.

The Exchange
9:00 am
Wed November 14, 2012

The China Challenge

As the world’s second largest economy and the largest foreign holder of American debt, China’s future is intertwined with ours -- even as we differ on many issues, such as trade and human rights. These differences made for intense campaign fodder in the Presidential race, with tough talk from candidates about the US-China relationship.  Meanwhile, China is undergoing its own change in leadership. Today we look at the complicated relationship between China and the US.

Guests

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Word of Mouth
11:53 am
Thu October 25, 2012

The Anthropology of Asian Food

Credit Chrissy Olson via Flickr Creative Commons

Jeffrey Alford is an adventurous sort. He left his Wyoming home in the late 1970's with very little money and began traveling in Asia. He funded his travels by smuggling gold and hawking jewelry before meeting another restless spirit named Naomi Duguid on a Tibetan rooftop in 1985. The two vagabonds got married, had two sons, and turned their love of Asia and its foods into a career of travel, writing and photography.

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Asia
9:58 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Chinese Journalist: Bo Xilai Had History Of Bribes

Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attended a plenary session of the National People's Congress last month in Beijing, shortly before he was stripped of all his Politburo positions.
Ng Han Guan AP

Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 2:10 pm

China is gripped by a tale of murder, betrayal, flight and intrigue that threatens the stability of the entire nation. At its heart is the death of a 41-year-old British businessman in a hotel room in the city of Chongqing last fall. The scandal has brought down a high-flying Chinese politician, Chongqing's party secretary Bo Xilai, and his wife, with China's state-run media hinting at their corruption and abuse of power.

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Asia
3:36 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Abuse Claims Follow Mafia Crackdown In Chinese City

Lawyer Li Zhuang spent more than a year in prison on charges of fabricating evidence and inciting witnesses, after trying to defend an alleged gangster. Li's case became a national cause celebre.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 8:23 pm

The swift downfall of ambitious Chinese politician Bo Xilai exposed a bitter power struggle in the highest echelons of government. Now his victims are telling their stories, exposing a darker side to Bo's signature clampdown on organized crime.

Charismatic and outspoken, Bo seemed headed for the country's top leadership body, the Politburo Standing Committee, before he was removed abruptly from his post — as party secretary of the major southern city of Chongqing — earlier this month.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
11:05 am
Tue March 27, 2012

Who's selling Iran the gear to spy on its own people?

Photo by Hapal via Flickr Creative Commons

Late last week, an investigative report from Reuters’ Enterprise Team uncovered the details of a big money contract between the Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE and the Telecommunication Company of Iran that included technology that can be used to conduct surveillance and crack down on dissidents. The details of the deal revealed surprising end-runs being made by Iran around global sanctions.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
10:22 am
Tue March 27, 2012

The Factory Girls of China

Photo by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr Creative Commons

Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook has touched down in China.

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Asia
1:33 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Obama Asks China To Help Halt N. Korean Rocket

President Obama greets Chinese President Hu Jintao at the start of their meeting in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday. The U.S. president asked the Chinese leader to use his influence with North Korean to discourage that country from launching a rocket next month.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

President Obama came to South Korea to talk about global nuclear security with world leaders, but found himself trying to build a unified front against North Korea's planned rocket launch next month.

Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak strenuously warned North Korea not to go ahead with the launch. In a speech Monday at the summit in Seoul, Obama used some of the toughest language he has ever used addressed to the leaders of North Korea.

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Asia
4:00 am
Thu March 15, 2012

China Sacks Outspoken Politician As Rumors Swirl

Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai leaves after the third plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at The Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9. Bo had been seen as a leading contender to access the top rungs of power in China, but in a dramatic reversal of fortune, he was sacked Thursday amid a rare public scandal.
Feng Li Getty Images

In a moment of high political drama, China has removed flamboyant politician Bo Xilai from his post as party secretary of the major southern city of Chongqing. The sacking comes as Beijing approaches a once-in-a-decade power transition this fall, offering a glimpse of the Machiavellian political struggle behind the scenes.

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Planet Money
12:01 am
Thu March 15, 2012

China's Giant Pool Of Dollars

There is an advantage to strengthening the currency for people in China: It makes their imports cheaper. A clerk counts bank notes in a bank in Nantong, east China's Jiangsu Province.
Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 11:08 am

China's central bank is sitting on a giant pool of U.S. dollars. It's the world's biggest holder of foreign reserves, worth over $3 trillion at last count.

All that money has piled up because every year, China exports more than it imports; it runs a trade surplus.

There are lots of reasons for China's trade surplus. In the past few decades, China has built an amazing manufacturing ecosystem. It's become the factory to the world.

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Asia
3:36 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Looking For Elephant Ivory? Try China

A Malaysian customs official examines elephant tusks at a port in Kalang. Malaysia has become an ivory transit hub, with African elephant tusks bound for China. Worldwide, authorities seized more than 5,000 smuggled tusks.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 8:53 am

Armed with tips from animal welfare activists, I recently went on an ivory hunt with my Chinese assistant, Yang, in an antiques market in Beijing.

Activists say China's growing purchasing power is driving global demand for products from vulnerable animals, everything from elephant ivory to rhino horn.

Two huge stone lions stood sentinel outside the four-story market nestled among a forest of buildings off one of Beijing's beltways. In China, vendors usually accost shoppers and try to lure them into stores.

Not here.

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Planet Money
3:38 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

From Cellphones To Cigarettes: The Long Arm Of The Chinese Government

How many government-owned businesses do you see in this picture?
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

The streets of Beijing and Shanghai feel like an entrepreneurial free-for-all, full of mom-and-pop stores and street vendors selling snacks and cheap toys.

But when you pull back the curtain, you see a different picture: a country where the government still controls huge swaths of the economy.

When you're in China, there's a good chance you're doing business with the government every time you:

  • make a call on your cellphone (the government owns the country's biggest cellphone network)
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Asia
3:28 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

On Tibetan Plateau, A Sense Of Constant Surveillance

Ethnic Tibetan pilgrims walk on a road during Tibetan New Year in Langmusixiang, Sichuan province, in western China, Feb. 22. Celebrations are subdued in the Tibetan areas of China this year, after a string of self-immolations and protest against Chinese control.
Carlos Barria Reuters /Landov

Wednesday marks the traditional Tibetan New Year, but many Tibetans won't be celebrating. They'll be mourning the almost two-dozen people who set themselves on fire in the past year as a protest against Chinese rule. Eyewitnesses say the town of Aba, site of many of the self-immolations, resembles a Chinese military camp, with soldiers and riot police every few feet. NPR's Louisa Lim traveled elsewhere on the Tibetan plateau to cover the story and sent this dispatch.

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Asia
12:01 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Protests, Self-Immolation Signs Of A Desperate Tibet

This photo, provided to freetibet.org, shows a man being forcibly detained by security forces in the town of Serther in Tibet following a clash with protesters and police.
freetibet.org

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 8:44 pm

In a monastery on the Tibetan plateau, monks swathed in crimson robes chant under silk hangings, in a murky hall heavy with the smell of yak butter. Photos of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama — seen by China as a splittist — are openly displayed, as if in defiance. But Chinese security forces have tightened their grasp on this region, and monasteries appear to be emptying out, gripped by an atmosphere of fear and loss.

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Asia
3:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

For China's Likely Premier, A Western Influence

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, shown here delivering a speech at a Canada-China business forum in Beijing, on Feb. 9, 2012, is expected to become the country's next premier. In contrast to most other Chinese leaders, Li speaks English and has had considerable exposure to Western ideas.
Diego Azubel AP

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:31 pm

Third of three parts

The man who's expected to become China's president next year, Xi Jinping, is considered a princeling, the son of a prominent Chinese political figure. But the man who's likely to become premier, Li Keqiang, comes from very different stock.

The son of a minor party official, Li worked as a farmer for four years, before studying law at university.

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Asia
12:01 am
Tue February 14, 2012

A Pragmatic Princeling Next In Line To Lead China

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, shown here in December 2011 waving to students during a visit to Bangkok, Thailand, is in line to become China's leader next year.
Pairoj AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 9:11 pm

Second of three parts

In northwestern China's Shaanxi province, a neatly manicured and landscaped memorial park the size of six soccer fields is one sign of the revolutionary lineage of Xi Jinping, the man set to become China's next leader.

Known as a Communist Party princeling, Xi is the 58-year-old son of Xi Zhongxun, a deputy prime minister and revolutionary hero who died in 2002.

The elder Xi was born in Fuping county in Shaanxi, more than 600 miles southwest of Beijing, and is considered a hometown hero.

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Asia
12:01 am
Thu February 9, 2012

China Laces Up Its Chuck Taylors

Chuck Taylor All Stars are common on the streets of Shanghai. Xuan Zhihui, 62, a retiree from a state-owned factory, wears her daughter's hand-me-down sneakers, which are 15 years old. She says they're really comfortable.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Stroll along a street in downtown Shanghai for very long, and you're likely to run into someone wearing Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. One recent afternoon, Xu Jing was heading back from lunch to her job at an ad company in a pair of raspberry-colored Chuck Taylors.

"They have a young image, upbeat and outdoorsy, sporty," said Xu, 27, explaining the appeal. "Young people with an artistic sense prefer Converse."

Xu was accompanied by Chen Xiaolei, a co-worker who owns three pairs of Chuck Taylor high-tops.

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Word of Mouth
10:16 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Word of Mouth for 01.28.12

Photo by urbanmkr, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Part 1: "Ready for Liftoff: 3...2...None?"

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