NPR’s Rob Schmitz (China) — Listen to his recent broadcasts from Germany

from WFAE 90.7 — Charlotte’s NPR News Source

Ron Schmitz – photo: Julian de Hauteclocque Howe/NPR

Rob Schmitz (China 1996-98) is NPR’s international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany’s levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.

Prior to covering Europe, Schmitz provided award-winning coverage of China for a decade, reporting on the country’s economic rise and increasing global influence. His reporting on China’s impact beyond its borders took him to countries such as Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. Inside China, he’s interviewed elderly revolutionaries, young rappers, and live-streaming celebrity farmers who make up the diverse tapestry of one of the most fascinating countries on the planet.

He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road (Crown/Random House 2016), a profile of individuals who live, work, and dream along a single street that runs through the heart of China’s largest city. The book won several awards and has been translated into half a dozen languages. In 2018, China’s government banned the Chinese version of the book after its fifth printing. The following year it was selected as a finalist for the Ryszard Kapuściński Award, Poland’s most prestigious literary prize.

Schmitz has won numerous 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 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 (2013).

In 2012, Schmitz 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. In 2011, New York’s Rubin Museum of Art screened a documentary Schmitz shot in Tibetan regions of China about one of the last living Tibetans who had memorized “Gesar of Ling,” an epic poem that tells of Tibet’s ancient past.

From 2010 to 2016, Schmitz was the China correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace. He’s also worked as a reporter for NPR Member stations KQED, KPCC and MPR. Prior to his radio career, Schmitz lived and worked in China — first as a teacher for the Peace Corps in the 1990s, and later as a freelance print and video journalist. He also lived in Spain for two years. He speaks Mandarin and Spanish. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


Listen to some of Rob Schmitz‘s broadcasts
The Bagger 288, a bucket-wheel excavator, digs into the beet fields behind the farm of Norbert Winzen to expand Germany's Garzweiler coal mine, one of Europe's largest open-pit mines. Winzen's family is fighting coal mine operator RWE in an effort to save their village of Keyenberg, which is more than a thousand years old.


A small farming town which lies in the path of an expanding open-pit coal mine is hoping German climate policy will eliminate the use of dirty coal before their village is consumed by the pit.


In Southeastern Europe, Montenegro needed a good road and China offered to build it. Montenegro is not sure now if it can pay for it, and it owes China the equivalent of a quarter of its economy.

Germany is reeling under a heatwave. Temperatures are expected to rise to the high 90s — a bigger deal when a country has little to no air conditioning.


Hungarians have taken to the streets of Budapest to protest plans build a Chinese university there.


Ivan Medvesek stands in front of one of 21 dioramas in his Froggyland museum. On display is the work of Ferenc Mere, a Hungarian taxidermist who created these exhibits more than a century ago. Medvesek's parents purchased the displays after they were left behind in an attic in what is now Serbia in 1970. After losing revenue in the pandemic, Medvesek says he's selling Froggyland to U.S. investors.
The global fight against COVID-19 is in very different stages country to country. Reporters on three continents explain the status of the pandemic in Germany, Kenya and Colombia.


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the media Friday in Berlin. Germany has reached an agreement with Namibia that will see it officially recognize as genocide the colonial-era killings of tens of thousands of people and commit to spending $1.3 billion, largely on development projects.
“In light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness,” Germany’s foreign minister said Friday.


European leaders meet in Brussels to decide how to respond to Belarus, which forced a commercial airliner to land there — allowing the police to seize an opposition activist on board.


A view of Dubrovnik's old town from atop the ancient city wall. Few people are in the ancient town that's usually packed with tourists in the spring.
For Croatia, the most tourism-dependent country in Europe, opening up quickly is crucial to reviving its pandemic-battered economy. Tourist numbers plummeted last year.


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