Frank Langfitt

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe. Previously, Langfitt spent five years as an NPR correspondent covering China. Based in Shanghai, he drove a free taxi around the city for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. As part of the series, Langfitt drove passengers back to the countryside for Chinese New Year and served as a wedding chauffeur. He also helped a Chinese-American NPR listener hunt for her missing sister in the mountains of Yunnan province.

While in China, Langfitt also reported on the government's infamous black jails — secret detention centers — as well as his own travails taking China's driver's test, which he failed three times.

Before moving to Shanghai, Langfitt was NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi. He reported from Sudan, covered the civil war in Somalia and interviewed imprisoned Somali pirates, who insisted they were just misunderstood fishermen. During the Arab spring, Langfitt covered the uprising and crushing of the reform movement in Bahrain.

Prior to Africa, Langfitt was NPR's labor correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covered the 2008 financial crisis, the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler and coalmine disasters in West Virginia.

In 2008, Langfitt also covered the Beijing Olympics as a member of NPR's team, which won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. Langfitt's print and visual journalism have also been honored by the Overseas Press Association and the White House News Photographers Association.

Before coming to NPR, Langfitt spent five years as a correspondent in Beijing for The Baltimore Sun, covering a swath of Asia from East Timor to the Khyber Pass.

Langfitt spent his early years in journalism stringing for the Philadelphia Inquirer and living in Hazard, Kentucky, where he covered the state's Appalachian coalfields for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Prior to becoming a reporter, Langfitt dug latrines in Mexico and drove a taxi in his home town of Philadelphia. Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

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When Maggie Ranage woke up to the results of last month's vote to leave the European Union, she couldn't believe it.

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Sandy Berart sat in the shade of a birch tree eating a very British lunch – a cheddar cheese and pickle sandwich — and wondered what lay in store for her in the city she calls home.

"The first thought I had is, 'Am I going to be able to stay and work freely?'" asked Berart, 41, an assistant office manager from France who works in London's Southwark neighborhood, a hub for architectural, design and engineering firms south of the River Thames.

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When American Erik Bidenkap arrived in London from the U.S. six weeks ago, he thought he was leaving behind the toxic politics of the U.S. presidential race.

Bidenkap said he was hoping for a more intellectual, perhaps even philosophical, discussion of the question U.K. citizens will decide Thursday: whether to leave the European Union.

"I expected there would be more civility, politeness, I guess," Bidenkap said over pints at a pub near his apartment in London's Notting Hill section. "I expected the conversation to be of a higher level."

Tony Thompson hopes the United Kingdom votes on Thursday to leave the European Union. Standing in a green smock behind his meat counter in the town of Romford, a short train ride from central London, the 58-year-old butcher explains why in four words.

"Got to stop immigration," says Thompson. "It's only an island. You can only get so many people on an island, can't you?"

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When it comes to the future of China's economy, Wang Dengwen is yesterday's man. He came from the countryside and found work a few years ago at Shanghai's Baosteel, smoothing the edges off steel plates.

After his first year, the steel market began to slide and the company cut Wang's monthly salary from $780 to about $620. A couple of months ago, Wang, 34, took a second job, earning $2.25 an hour delivering food for KFC.

One recent afternoon, I was walking up Nanjing West Road, Shanghai's traditional shopping street, when I ran into a crowd of protesters being chased off by a plainclothes cop wielding a bullhorn and a line of uniformed police. Demonstrations like this in the heart of the city are rare and sensitive for the government, which fears political unrest as China's economic growth continues to slow.

I asked a fleeing protester what had happened.

"Don't walk alongside me," pleaded the woman, named Zhao, staring straight ahead. "The police will detain me."

I first met Tess Johnston in the late 1990s in a yellow, stucco apartment building where she lived in Shanghai's former French Concession. As was her habit, she dropped the key from her third-floor window and I let myself in.

Her drafty apartment was crammed with books and street maps. Over tea, Johnston, then in her late 60s, regaled me with her latest adventures, rushing through the city's back alleys to photograph old European-style villas before they succumbed to sledge hammers.

It's 9:30 on a Thursday night and Chinese and foreign jazz fans descend on the JZ Club in Shanghai's former French Concession. Glasses clink and the splashing sound of cymbals ripple through a cabaret setting bathed in soft red light.

Andrew Field, an American historian, says clubs like JZ represent a return to Shanghai's cosmopolitan past.

China's economy isn't doing too well these days, but you wouldn't know it from the government's real estate transaction center in Shanghai's Baoshan district. Hundreds of people jam the office every day to put in paperwork for homes they've just purchased. The crowds are so loud and anxious that guards wearing white hardhats and wielding bullhorns patrol the lines to keep order.

Last summer, a Chinese-American woman and NPR listener reached out with an unusual request. She asked me to help find her sister, who'd vanished in the mountains of Yunnan province in southwest China.

"My little sister has been missing since Nov. 23, 2013," the woman wrote in an email. "She married a farmer in a remote village and was abused by her husband shortly after her marriage. She escaped from him after a few abuses."

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And this morning, we're listening to people who've been following the U.S. presidential election from afar, voices from around the world. Let's turn now to NPR's Frank Langfitt, who's based in Shanghai.

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