Anthony Kuhn

In China, a country where all media are nominally owned by the state, the government invests vast amounts of money and labor into controlling information.

Having any investigative journalists at all is no mean feat.

But in Hunan, the journalism can be as spicy as the chili pepper-laden cuisine for which the province is known.

"Hunan produces the best investigative journalists in the country," says Luo Changping, who until 2014 was one of them. One reason for this, he says, is that "no matter how poor people are in Hunan, they're very concerned about politics."

A software developer in southern China surnamed Xie was at home on a recent day, when he responded to a knock on the door.

He opened it to find three plainclothes policemen. Xie asks that we just use his last name, because he fears being arrested.

At the time, he was selling VPN apps on Apple's China app store. VPNs — virtual private networks — help people access Internet content that's blocked in China.

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"Liu Xia is free."

A Chinese official made this assertion to allay concerns that the widow of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died July 13, remains under house arrest — as she has been for most of the time since her husband was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has died of liver cancer. He was 61. He died on medical parole while serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has more from Beijing.

Prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, the only Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize while still residing in China, has died at age 61. Liu died Thursday while on medical parole in northeastern China's Shenyang city, where he was being treated for liver cancer. He was serving an 11-year prison sentence for trying to overthrow the government.

With China's most famous living dissident, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, on the verge of death, his supporters continue to call for him to be allowed to leave the country — to either get medical treatment or at least die a free man.

In decades past, China sometimes released high-profile dissidents, who went overseas. But the days when China was willing to cut a deal with the U.S. or other countries and send a dissident into exile are long gone.

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In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that its promoters claimed would beat traffic jams appears to have gone off the rails. That became clear last week when police arrested the people behind the project on suspicion of fraud.

Dubbed the Transit Elevated Bus, the vehicle looks a bit like a catamaran on rails or a bus that straddles two lanes of traffic.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that was intended to beat traffic jams appears now to have gone off the rails. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has the story from Beijing.

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