John Ruwitch

John Ruwitch is a correspondent with NPR's international desk. He covers Chinese affairs.

Ruwitch joined NPR in early 2020, and has since chronicled the tectonic shift in America's relations with China, from hopeful engagement to suspicion-fueled competition. He's also reported on a range of other issues, including Beijing's pressure campaign on Taiwan, Hong Kong's National Security Law, Asian-Americans considering guns for self-defense in the face of rising violence and a herd of elephants roaming in the Chinese countryside in search of a home.

Ruwitch joined NPR after more than 19 years with Reuters in Asia, the last eight of which were in Shanghai. There, he first covered a broad beat that took him as far afield as the China-North Korea border and the edge of the South China Sea. Later, he led a team that covered business and financial markets in the world's second biggest economy. Ruwitch has also had postings in Hanoi, Hong Kong and Beijing, reporting on anti-corruption campaigns, elite Communist politics, labor disputes, human rights, currency devaluations, earthquakes, snowstorms, Olympic badminton and everything in between.

Ruwitch studied history at U.C. Santa Cruz and got a master's in Regional Studies East Asia from Harvard. He speaks Mandarin and Vietnamese.

In many parts of the U.S., China remains a huge business opportunity despite recent friction. That's the country where Apple makes its phones and Nike stitches its shoes. U.S. farmers sell soybeans to China and Wall Street investors trade Chinese stocks.

Yet inside the Washington Beltway, China is a security threat. Full stop. It's one of the few things Democrats, Republicans and most everyone else in the capital agree on.

"An adversarial, predatory Chinese leadership poses our biggest geo-political test," CIA Director William Burns said in congressional testimony.

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Updated September 10, 2021 at 4:19 AM ET

President Biden held a phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday, only their second since Biden took office, in an attempt initiated by the U.S. to stabilize the bilateral relationship and coax Beijing into more substantive engagement amid deepening competition.

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The Chinese government has been tightening its control over culture and the economy in that country. In recent days, its sites have apparently turned towards an A-list movie star. NPR China affairs correspondent John Ruwitch reports.

BEIJING — America's two-decade presence in Afghanistan was always a mixed bag for neighboring China.

"On the one hand, [China] didn't love the fact that there [were] American military bases literally on their border in Afghanistan," says Raffaello Pantucci, a fellow with the Royal United Services Institute, a security think tank in the United Kingdom. "On the other hand, you know, they thought, well, at least someone is dealing with the issues there. And we don't have to."

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The evacuation of Americans and others from Kabul this week has elicited comparisons to the fall of Saigon in Vietnam. And it's not too hard to see why.

Updated July 28, 2021 at 4:04 PM ET

BEIJING — As a spokesperson, he delivered excoriating one-liners and helped pioneer a brash, more sharply confident communication style from the Chinese foreign ministry's pulpit.

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China has flown 28 warplanes into Taiwan-controlled airspace, the biggest sortie of its kind since the Taiwanese government began publishing information about the frequent incursions last year.

The flights are widely seen as part of an effort by Beijing to dial up pressure on Taiwan, a self-governed democracy of about 24 million people off the Chinese coast that the Chinese government considers a part of China.

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A group of wild elephants has wandered into the suburbs of the Chinese city of Kunming after trekking more than 300 miles from their home, perplexing experts and stymying officials who have tried to keep the hulking animals out of populated areas.

The 15 Asian elephants — some mature and others still young — left a nature reserve near China's border with Myanmar and Laos more than a year ago and have been northbound ever since, according to Chinese media.

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The Senate is poised to pass a major bill that would pour hundreds of billions of dollars into science and technology in a bid to out-compete China, and it's doing so with something rare these days: strong bipartisan support.

The Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 is part of a wave of recent China-related proposals in Congress.

Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana is one of the act's key sponsors, as is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has been leading the charge to get it passed.

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The Senate is scrambling to pass a major bill that would pour hundreds of billions of dollars into science and technology in a bid to outcompete China. And as NPR's John Ruwitch reports, the bill has rare bipartisan support.

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China soon won't be the world's most populous country.

The government released data Tuesday from a once-a-decade census conducted late last year that shows population growth has slowed to a crawl. Meanwhile, the proportion of senior citizens in China has expanded, the cohort of working-age people is contracting, and births are down.

The data casts a fresh spotlight on one of the ruling Communist Party's biggest long-term socio-economic challenges as it turns 100 this year: How to keep the economy humming and incomes rising while the population shrinks and ages.

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As the U.S. sifts through the results of its 2020 census, China is poised to do the same. China conducted a census last year of its 1.4 billion people. NPR China correspondent John Ruwitch looked into what to expect.

Taiwan's semiconductor-makers are racing to end a chip shortage that has forced carmakers to hit the brakes on production.

But the Taiwanese government's economic chief says it is still unclear when the crisis will be over.

Taiwan's Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua told NPR that Taiwanese microchip producers, such as world-leading Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., have boosted production this year and are filling more auto-related orders.

President Biden's climate envoy, John Kerry, and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, agreed last week that China and the United States, the world's two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, should cooperate on tackling the climate crisis.

But with bilateral ties at their worst in decades, and few details emerging from their meeting in Shanghai, observers have been left to guess what that cooperation might look like.

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Judy Hoarfrost remembers the day she walked into China a half-century ago.

She was 15 and the youngest member of the U.S. pingpong team, which had been in Nagoya, Japan, competing in the World Championships. Two days before the tournament ended, Team China surprised the Americans with an invitation to come to their country and play some games.

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