China

Matthew Stinson via flickr Creative Commons| / flic.kr/p/eTSb9

With thousands of empty luxury apartments in china’s new cities, desperate measures are being taken to lure buyers. On today’s show we’ll explore the booming business of renting foreigners as props to give these ghostly city centers an air of international glamor.    

Also today, America’s population will certainly look different in 2050, but what will it sound like? A linguist suggests that to find out, you should listen to young women.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 China Challenge

Nov 14, 2012

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr Creative Commons

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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