The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journey with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China

Frank Langfitt, NPR London Correspondent

12:00pm - 1:00pm | Virtual Conference via Zoom
book cover

(If you are interested in joining the virtual book talk and have not received a link via one of our email lists, please email cscc-contact@sas.upenn.edu to request a link.)

The world’s two superpowers are locked in an intensifying rivalry and the people of both nations appear increasingly disillusioned with the government of the other. Many Chinese see the election of Donald Trump as evidence of democracy’s flaws while many Americans who had hoped engagement with China would bring liberalization are disappointed. Frank Langfitt will discuss the views of the Chinese people on President Trump, the United States and sovereignty in the South China Sea. Langfitt explored these perspectives while driving a taxi in Shanghai where he exchanged free rides for conversation. His experience as a cabbie inspired his 2019 book, “The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China.” 

Frank Langfitt is NPR’s London correspondent, covering Brexit, terrorism and other stories in Western Europe. Before coming to the United Kingdom, he spent a decade as a reporter in China, most recently as NPR’s correspondent in Shanghai, where he drove a free taxi around the city for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. Langfitt got the idea for the series from his experience decades earlier driving taxis in Philadelphia during summers home from college. The NPR radio series inspired his first book, “The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China.”

In 2008, Langfitt covered the Beijing Olympics as a member of NPR’s team, which won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. From 1997 to 2002, he was the Baltimore Sun’s Beijing correspondent, covering a swath of Asia from the Khyber Pass to East Timor. Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He lives outside London with his wife, Julie, a veterinarian, and their two children.