Rob Schmitz

Rob Schmitz is the Shanghai Correspondent for NPR.

From 2010 to 2016, Schmitz was the China Correspondent for the public radio business program Marketplace. Schmitz has won several awards for his reporting on China, including two national Edward R. Murrow awards and an Education Writers Association award. His work was also a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. His reporting in Japan — from the hardest-hit areas near the failing Fukushima nuclear power plant following the earthquake and tsunami — was included in the publication 100 Great Stories, celebrating the centennial of Columbia University's Journalism School. In 2012, Rob exposed the fabrications in Mike Daisey's account of Apple's supply chain on This American Life. His report was featured in the show's "Retraction" episode, the most downloaded episode in the program's 16-year history.

Prior to his radio career, Schmitz lived and worked in China – first as a teacher for the Peace Corps in the 1990s, later as a freelance print and video journalist. He speaks Mandarin and Spanish. He has a Master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Schmitz's latest book is Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road (2016).

After winning an election conducted amongst Hong Kong's biggest Beijing supporters, 59-year-old former civil servant Carrie Lam said her priority would be to "heal the divide" in Hong Kong society, vowing to form a government based on talent, not connections.

After more than two years of protests over the city's political future, this seemed to be what her city needed to hear, and saying the right thing at the right time was precisely what catapulted Lam to this position in the first place.

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North Korea again tested ballistic missiles this week, firing four of them into the waters near Japan. Just days later, the U.S. military announced that part of a controversial missile defense system arrived at Osan Air Base in South Korea for deployment as early as April.

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Sitting inside a glass-encased cockpit, two men fiddle with joysticks controlling giant claws outside. They look like they're playing at a vending machine at a mall, where you try to grasp a stuffed animal. But these are engineers. The claws they're manipulating are as big as houses, and they're sifting through hundreds of tons of garbage thrown away by the world's largest consumer class.

At any other time of the year, Shengping Lane bustles with life. But the Lunar New Year holiday is near, half the city has left for their hometowns and Shanghai has returned to the Shanghainese.

The only vendor left in the alley sells calendars, but soon he'll pack up, too. It's the time of year when Shengping Lane lives up to its name: 升平 or "Rising Peace."

Two days before the election, Donald Trump stood before a large crowd in Sioux City, Iowa, and called onstage the longest-serving governor in U.S. history.

"I think there's nobody knows more about trade than him," Trump said of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. "Boy, you would be our prime candidate to take care of China."

In an article last month on state goals for 2017, China's Xinhua news agency reported, "China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty through more than 30 years of reform and opening-up," while aiming to "lift" 10 million more in the coming year.

The Shanghai city government thinks it can make citizens more honest through a smartphone app. The city released the app, Honest Shanghai, in November during "honesty week," a celebration of virtuous behavior throughout the city.

Here's how the app works: You sign up using your national ID number. The app uses facial recognition software to locate troves of your personal data collected by the government, and 24 hours later, you're given one of three "public credit" scores — very good, good, or bad.

It's not yet Oscar season, but buzz is building about the performance of a Chinese candidate.

There are around 12 million Catholics in China, less than 1 percent of China's population. It's a number that's felt at a weekday morning mass inside Shanghai's St. Peter's Church, where a small percentage of pew space is occupied by a few, mostly elderly loyal parishioners.

Until last week, the U.S. "One China" policy rarely surfaced for public discussion, and when it did, it didn't generate any heat. That all changed with a single phone call, as President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen for a few brief minutes on Dec. 2.

There's a lot of time for contemplation when you're milking cows in Mongolia. 90-year-old Lkhagvajav Bish has milked them for decades. She's a nomadic herder, and she follows them in their endless search for grass.

Today, the ger, or tent, she and her son live in is pitched in a valley surrounded by brown hills whose tops are white with frost, and as her hands squeeze the last milk from one of her herd, Bish reminisces about a time when this valley looked completely different.

Inside Mongolia's largest open-air market in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, it doesn't feel like the economy is on the brink of collapse. Alleyways are packed with people selling carpets, fabric, clothes and nearly anything else you could think of.

But vendors here have had a front-row seat to an economy that has quickly gone from the world's fastest growing to one of the slowest. Everyone here seems to have a riches-to-rags story.

On a hillside overlooking the steppes of northeastern Mongolia, an entire family shovels jet-black chunks of coal into a truck. Every half-hour or so, they fire up a machine that steadily pulls a steel cable attached to what looks like a roller-coaster car emerging from a hole in the ground. It takes five minutes before it arrives at the surface, full of more coal, extracted by cousins working half-a-mile beneath the earth.

For some rural Mongolians, risking their lives in crude, makeshift mines is the only way to survive.

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