Radio Free Asia

RFA_logo250Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, non-profit news organization operating under a grant from the BBG. Broadcasting daily in nine languages to listeners in Asia whose governments restrict media, RFA delivers award-winning, reliable news and information, along with a range of voices and opinions from within Asia, to demonstrate freedom of expression over the airwaves, on television, and online.

Through shortwave, medium wave, satellite TV transmissions, social media, and the Internet, RFA broadcasts in Mandarin, Cantonese, Uyghur, three Tibetan dialects, Burmese, Vietnamese, Korean, Lao, and Khmer. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., RFA has seven overseas bureaus and a vast network of correspondents around the world. Call-in programs and multimedia websites provide the audience with a forum in which they can freely express views and exchange ideas.

Following strict journalistic standards of objectivity, integrity, and balance, RFA serves as a model for its target countries’ emerging journalistic traditions. Reaching Asian listeners across all social strata and maintaining credibility are RFA’s top priorities. RFA’s journalism is cited in reports in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, Associated Press, NHK, Al Jazeera, and BBC, among numerous domestic and international outlets.

Fast Facts

  • Employees: 268
  • FY2012 Budget: $41.7 million
  • Weekly Hours Broadcast: 181
  • Languages: 9



“I hear a lot of people on RFA call-in shows saying they feel helpless. There’s nothing they can do. There’s so much corruption among officials. I want to tell them there’s a lot they can do. First, they can tell their neighbors to listen to RFA. … In the near future, I think these people will discover they and their radios set to RFA will make a big difference.” – Chen GuangchengThroughout the year, the Mandarin Service provided detailed coverage of crackdowns on Chinese activists and petitioners leading up to China’s 18th Party Congress. In an interview at RFA’s Washington headquarters, Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng praised RFA for its coverage of human and civil rights issues in China.

Commentator Jiang Weiping, a renowned journalist who spent six years in jail in China because of his reporting on the rise and misuse of power by Politburo member Bo Xilai, provided a stream of in-depth analyses of Bo’s downfall following corruption charges.

The Tibetan Service broke dozens of stories on the self-immolations against Chinese rule, involving more than 100 Tibetan men and women. RFA did exclusive reporting on thousands of students protesting the release of a Chinese booklet that disparaged the Tibetan language and ridiculed the self-immolations.

The Cantonese Service broke numerous stories on China’s food safety problems, pollution caused by power plants, and the lead poisoning of children. The service also documented cases of forced abortions, rural-urban disparities, and the problems of petitioners and migrant workers.

The Uyghur Service covered the continued disappearance of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since 2009. RFA reported on restrictions imposed on Muslim Uyghurs engaging in religious practices during Ramadan, including an enforced ban on fasting for civil servants.

North Korea

The Korean Service reported on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s first year in power, which was marked by human rights abuses and a tightening of border security aimed at deterring people from fleeing the country. The service also increased its use of North Korean defectors. RFA videographers interviewed North Korean women who were victims of the Chinese bride industry.


The Khmer Service covered violent crackdowns on villagers over land disputes and acts of intimidation against reporters, broadcasters, and human rights groups. The service devoted several broadcasts to the assassination of Chut Wutty, a prominent environmentalist.


The Lao Service reported on the sex trafficking of Lao girls to Thailand and took undercover footage of teenage girls working in a brothel in Vientiane. The service also reported on land concessions made to Chinese and Vietnamese companies by the Lao government and growing Chinese influence in the region.


The Vietnamese Service reported on mass demonstrations of farmers protesting inadequate compensation for land seized for state-backed development projects. The service also covered the arrests, trials, and sentencing of bloggers who spoke out about corruption and human rights abuses in Vietnam.


The Burmese Service launched RFA’s first daily television program and covered a government crackdown on mass protests against a China-Burma joint venture copper mine. RFA led coverage of deadly communal violence in western Burma, including video interviews with refugees. The service covered by-elections that led to Aung San Suu Kyi and her party winning seats in parliament.


Earlier Highlights


At the 2011 New York Festivals® broadcast awards, RFA’s Korean Service won a gold medal for a piece titled, “New Year Celebrations Thousands of Miles from Home.” The program aired in February, featuring interviews with North Korean defectors living around the world as they reminisced about the families, friends, and lives they left behind.

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