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).

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.

At a Florida campaign stop in August, presidential candidate Donald Trump made a promise for his first day in office: "I'm going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator! The greatest in the world!"

Trump told supporters that China keeps its currency artificially low to flood the U.S. with cheap imports, putting Americans out of work.

But is it true?

The response of China's state-controlled media to Donald Trump's victory seemed almost gleeful. Xinhua wrote that the 2016 presidential election "sent a clear signal that the U.S. political system is faltering," and regular CCTV guest Zhang Shaozhang gushed "Trump wins, as expected!" on his Weibo page.

After a month of student-led democracy protests in central Hong Kong in 2014, there was a moment when the students and Hong Kong's government seemed to be on the verge of actually agreeing on something.

"At one important juncture, the student leaders asked me to talk to senior [Hong Kong] government officials to explore the possibilities of conducting a debate," says Hong Kong University Political Science professor Joseph Chan.

With Chan's coaxing, the Hong Kong government, which was pro-China, agreed.

Nathan Law may still be taking college coursework, but he's already scored a good job. When I ask how much he'll make now that the 23-year-old has become Hong Kong's youngest legislator in city history, he quietly does the calculation in his head.

"It's around 12,000 U.S. dollars a month," he finally says, "but I'm going to donate much of that to the social movement."