Louisa Lim

Beijing Correspondent Louisa Lim is currently attending the University of Michigan as a Knight-Wallace Fellow. She will return to her regular role in 2014.

Based in Beijing, NPR foreign correspondent Louisa Lim finds China a hugely diverse, vibrant, fascinating place. "Everywhere you look and everyone you talk to has a fascinating story," she notes, adding that she's "spoiled with choices" of stories to cover. In her reports, Lim takes "NPR listeners to places they never knew existed. I want to give them an idea of how China is changing and what that might mean for them."

Lim opened NPR's Shanghai bureau in February 2006, but she's reported for NPR from up Tibetan glaciers and down the shaft of a Shaanxi coalmine. She made a very rare reporting trip to North Korea, covered illegal abortions in Guangxi province, and worked on the major multimedia series on religion in China "New Believers: A Religious Revolution in China." Lim has been part of NPR teams who multiple awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a Peabody and two Edward R. Murrow awards, for their coverage of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and the Beijing Olympics. She's been honored in the Human Rights Press Awards, as well as winning prizes for her multimedia work.

In 1995, Lim moved to Hong Kong and worked at the Eastern Express newspaper until its demise six months later and then for TVB Pearl, the local television station. Eventually Lim joined the BBC, working first for five years at the World Service in London, and then as a correspondent at the BBC in Beijing for almost three years.

Lim found her path into journalism after graduating with a degree in Modern Chinese studies from Leeds University in England. She worked as an editor, polisher, and translator at a state-run publishing company in China, a job that helped her strengthen her Chinese. Simultaneously, she began writing for a magazine and soon realized her talents fit perfectly with journalism.

NPR London correspondent Rob Gifford, who previously spent six years reporting from China for NPR, thinks that Lim is uniquely suited for his former post. "Not only does Louisa have a sharp journalistic brain," Gifford says, "but she sees stories from more than one angle, and can often open up a whole new understanding of an issue through her reporting. By listening to Louisa's reports, NPR listeners will certainly get a feel for what 21st century China is like. It is no longer a country of black and white, and the complexity is important, a complexity that you always feel in Louisa's intelligent, nuanced reporting."

Out of all of her reporting, Lim says she most enjoys covering stories that are quirky or slightly offbeat. However, she gravitates towards reporting on arts stories with a deeper significance. For example, early in her tenure at NPR, Lim highlighted a musical on stage in Seoul, South Korea, based on a North Korean prison camp. The play, and Lim's piece, highlighted the ignorance of many South Koreans of the suffering of their northern neighbors.

Married with a son and a daughter, Lim recommends any NPR listeners travelling to Shanghai stop by a branch of her husband's Yunnan restaurant, Southern Barbarian, where they can snack on deep fried bumblebees, a specialty from that part of southwest China. In Beijing, her husband owns and runs what she calls "the first and best fish and chip shop in China", Fish Nation.

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Asia
6:11 am
Sat March 30, 2013

North Korea's Stepped-Up Rhetoric: Is It More Than Talk?

University students march through Kim Il Sung Square in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea, on Friday. Tens of thousands of North Koreans turned out for the mass rally at the main square in Pyongyang in support of leader Kim Jong Un's call to arms.
Jon Chol Jin AP

Originally published on Sat March 30, 2013 10:34 am

North Korea has cut its last military hotlines with South Korea and yet again stepped up its rhetoric, rattling nerves in the region.

Thousands of North Koreans rallied in central Pyongyang, chanting "Death to the U.S. imperialists." Their leader, Kim Jong Un, has been calling for "scores to be settled" with the U.S.

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Asia
3:36 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

From Police Chief To Political Office, Jobs Are For Sale In China

The 12th National People's Congress holds the election for its new president at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday.
Wang Zhao AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 10:15 pm

China's new president, Xi Jinping, who was formally elected Thursday, is already engaged in his own anti-corruption campaign, threatening to go after the key players — the tigers as well as the flies.

Confronting the issue is a matter of political self-interest and survival for China's new leaders. The problem is how to root out corrupt officials when so many are quite literally invested in the system.

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The Two-Way
12:34 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Tibetan Customs Include Horse Races ... And Paramilitary Police?

A close look at a photo of the Nagqu horse festival in northern Tibet at the National Museum of China in Beijing reveals a gaggle of surprising "spectators" at the traditional Tibetan event: Chinese paramilitary police (see enlargement).
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 1:09 pm

In the exiled Tibetan calendar, March 10 is an emotive day, the anniversary of a failed uprising in 1959.

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The Two-Way
8:30 am
Mon March 11, 2013

While U.S And South Korea Militaries Drill, 'Bombast Continues' From The North

In this image released by North Korea's Central News Agency, leader Kim Jong Un is said to be using a pair of binoculars to look south during an inspection of a front-line army unit.
Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 10:26 am

  • From 'Morning Edition': Louisa Lim reports

As NPR's Louisa Lim reported Monday on Morning Edition, a week of inflamed rhetoric from North Korea — including talk of a preemptive nuclear strike on the U.S. — is being followed by word that the North has carried through on its threat to annul the 1953 armistice that ended open warfare on the peninsula and has stopped answering calls on the telephone hotline to the South.

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Asia
6:11 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Tensions Rise As U.S., South Korea Conduct Military Drills

North Korea has cut off a hotline with South Korea, as its southern neighbor begins a large annual military exercise with the U.S. North Korea also announced that the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War is no longer valid, though South Korean officials have cast doubt on this. This comes after a week of inflamed North Korean rhetoric, including threats to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the U.S.

The Two-Way
7:21 am
Wed March 6, 2013

In China, Baby's Brutal Death Raises Questions For Many About Nation's Values

Baby Haobo. For many netizens in China, this pixelated image of the infant who suffered a grisly death is a stark reminder of disturbing changes in the country's values system. The picture has spread quickly across Chinese websites.
Tencent

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 1:08 pm

A tale of two car thefts has transfixed China, sparking a new bout of soul-searching. It's generated far more attention online than the ongoing legislative session in Beijing, despite leaked orders from the local government restricting official coverage.

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Asia
5:15 am
Tue March 5, 2013

National People's Congress Opens, Prepares For Leadership Change

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 6:54 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. As he prepares to step down, China's prime minister today delivered his version of a state of the union address. He got a big boost in military funding, one that outpaces expected economic growth.

NPR's Louisa Lim has been gauging the mood of China's new leaders, both inside and outside of the Great Hall of the People.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Asia
3:03 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

American Woman Gives Domestic Abuse A Face, And Voice, In China

Lee, the American wife of "Crazy English" founder Li Yang, leaves court after a session for her divorce trial in Beijing last March. Earlier this month, she was granted a divorce, as well as a restraining order against Li.
Alexander F. Yuan AP

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 8:30 pm

The faces of American Kim Lee and her Chinese husband, Li Yang, both in their 40s, once graced the covers of books that sold in the millions. He was China's most famous English teacher, the "Crazy English" guru of China, who pioneered his own style of English teaching: pedagogy through shouted language, yelling to halls of thousands of students.

His methods were given official recognition after he was employed by the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee to teach Olympic volunteers.

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Asia
1:19 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

'Friends' Will Be There For You At Beijing's Central Perk

Customers chat at a Beijing cafe modeled after the Central Perk cafe in the hit American sitcom Friends, in 2010. Nearly a decade after the series ended, the popularity of Friends continues among young Chinese, who use the show as a language-learning tool and enjoy its depiction of young Americans.
Ng Han Guan AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 8:53 pm

Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide.

Tucked away on the sixth floor of a Beijing apartment block is a mini replica of the cafe, orange couch and all, whose owner Du Xin introduces himself by saying, "Everyone calls me 'Gunther' here."

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Asia
5:55 am
Fri January 11, 2013

How Will China's New Leadership Handle Censorship Issue?

A man buys the latest edition of Southern Weekly at a newsstand near the newspaper's headquarters in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, on Thursday. The staff at the influential weekly rebelled to protest censorship by government officials; the newspaper was published Thursday after a compromise that called for relaxing some intrusive controls.
Vincent Yu AP

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 3:33 pm

In China, one struggle over censorship has been defused — for the moment, at least.

Journalists at one of the country's boldest newspapers have published a new issue after a weeklong standoff that started when censors replaced a New Year's editorial. Now the week's events are being parsed for signals about the direction of China's new Communist leadership.

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Asia
6:26 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Become A Successful Chinese Bureaucrat, In 5 Easy Steps

Former civil servant Wang Xiaofang is the author of 13 books on "bureaucracy literature," including The Civil Servant's Notebook, which recently was translated into English.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 8:16 pm

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey. In China, "bureaucracy lit" is flying off bookstore shelves. With the books' stories of Machiavellian office politics, they're read avidly, both as entertainment and as how-to guides for aspiring civil servants.

So what is the secret to success in the corridors of power?

Here is a five-point guide to success, with tips gleaned from the pioneers of bureaucracy lit.

Lesson 1: Cultivate your connections.

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Asia
6:37 am
Sat October 20, 2012

Amid Calls For Reform, China Waits For New Leaders

Guards stand outside the Xinhua Gate of the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in central Beijing earlier this year. China is preparing for a once-a-decade leadership change amid signs of growing public dissatisfaction.
David Gray Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 4:21 pm

The slogan "Long Live the Great Communist Party of China" is emblazoned on the wall outside the Beijing compound where the country's leaders live and work.

But now that party is under pressure to change as it prepares for a once-in-a-decade transition of power, which starts at a party congress scheduled to begin Nov. 8.

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NPR Story
4:23 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Nobel Literature Prize Sparks Some Controversy

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 6:30 am

There's been celebration in China, after the Nobel literature prize was awarded to Chinese author Mo Yan. This is the first Nobel given to a Chinese not in exile or prison, and the author's relationship with the Chinese government has sparked criticism.

Asia
5:06 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

China Offers Glimpse Of A New Stealth Fighter

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has lunch with engineering cadets at the Chinese military academy in Beijing on Wednesday. Just before Panetta's arrival for talks with top leaders, China released photos of a new stealth fighter under development.
Larry Downing Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 8:27 am

Ahead of high-profile talks in China by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, there was a high-impact leak. Photos emerged of a second Chinese stealth fighter jet — one that had been rumored but never seen before.

The J31, as analysts call it, shows how fast China is moving.

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NPR Story
6:11 am
Tue September 18, 2012

U.S. Calls For Calm Over Disputed Asian Islands

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 7:18 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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The Two-Way
11:24 am
Mon September 17, 2012

China Ratchets Up The Rhetoric In Island Spat With Japan

Protesters marched in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing today. They carried a banner declaring: "We are proud of China's rise. We resolutely oppose Japan's rightist forces."
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 9:52 am

China's state-run media is warning that Japan could endure another "lost decade" of economic stagnation should Beijing resort to trade retaliation over Japan's purchase of disputed islands.

The warning comes amid a surge of anti-Japanese nationalism across China that sparked huge and sometimes violent protests over the weekend. As the economic cost of the protests begins to escalate, it's becoming clearer exactly who might be behind them.

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Asia
7:35 am
Sun September 16, 2012

Chinese Flood Streets In Anti-Japan Demonstrations

Protester Mu Peidong carries a homemade sign that reads: "Even if we have to kill all Japanese, we must recover the Diaoyu islands."
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 10:48 am

It's been a weekend of huge anti-Japanese protests in as many as 85 cities across China, according to the Kyodo news agency.

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The Two-Way
5:41 am
Sat September 15, 2012

Anti-Japan Protests Erupt In China Over Disputed Islands

Protesters march outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing on Saturday. Tension escalated, sometimes to violence, in cities across China after Japan bought the disputed islands from a private Japanese owner.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Sat September 15, 2012 7:56 am

It has been a day of rage on China's streets. The road outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing was transformed into a sea of protesters, waving national flags, screaming invective.

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Asia
4:45 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

China's President-To-Be Mysteriously Absent

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The man likely to be China's next leader has vanished, at least from the public eye. He hasn't made an appearance for 10 days and his conspicuous absence has unleashed a wave of rumor and speculation.

Our Beijing correspondent, Louisa Lim, reports on the mysterious case of the missing politician.

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