Rob Schmitz Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin.
Rob Schmitz 2016 square
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Rob Schmitz

Julian de Hauteclocque Howe/NPR
Rob Schmitz 2016
Julian de Hauteclocque Howe/NPR

Rob Schmitz

International Correspondent, Berlin

Rob Schmitz 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. 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.

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Story Archive

COVID-19 Surge Forces European Countries To Reintroduce Restrictions

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After Countries In Europe Suspended It, Experts Conclude AstraZeneca Vaccine Is Safe

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Criticism Grows As Countries In Europe Suspend The Use Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine

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After Slow Start, More Germans Are Getting COVID-19 Vaccine Shots

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Radio journalists work in the studio at the headquarters of the independent Hungarian radio station, the Klubradio in Budapest on Feb. 9. It was removed from the airways after the national media regulator would not renew its license, raising new press freedom concerns in the European Union member state. Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

As Hungary Cuts Radio Station, Critics Say Europe Should Put Orban On Notice

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EU Criticized For Slow Response To Hungary's Crackdown On Press Freedom

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'America Is Back': Biden Speaks At Munich Security Conference

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A street sign says "Tesla Street 1" in front of the construction site of the Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin. The electric automaker plans to start building cars this summer at its first European production site. Michael Sohn/AP hide caption

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Michael Sohn/AP

What Will Tesla's New German Gigafactory Mean For Germany's Auto Industry?

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Tesla's Factory Threatens To Disrupt German Auto Industry

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Europe's COVID-19 Vaccination Effort Is Criticized For Slow Start

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Alternative for Germany leaders Björn Höcke (right) and Alexander Gauland celebrate their party's election results in Erfurt, Germany, in 2019, when voters in Thuringia elected a new state parliament. The AfD now has 88 members in Germany's federal parliament, more than 12% representation. Jens Meyer/AP hide caption

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Germany Expected To Put Right-Wing AfD Under Surveillance For Violating Constitution

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Merkel's Political Party Picks Armin Laschet As New Leader

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A Look At Global COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

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U.S. Allies React To Breach Of U.S. Capitol By Pro-Trump Extremists

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