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
1:35 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

For China's Youth, A Life Of 'Darkness Outside The Night'

A small, child-like creature in a cone hat peers into a toy shop, happy at the sight of a snow globe, in a vignette called "Tininess" in Darkness Outside the Night, a graphic novel illustrated by Xie Peng. Find out what happens in the excerpt below.
Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson, with permission to reproduce the panels from Tabella Publishing LLP

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 4:48 pm

Xie Peng, a 36-year-old Chinese graphic novelist, spent six years working on his first book, Darkness Outside the Night. It's been praised by China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan, as inspiring people on how to deal with life.

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Parallels
2:59 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

China's Artist Provocateur Explores New Medium: Heavy Metal

The video for Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's newly released song starts by re-creating the conditions of his captivity during the 81 days he was held in police detention in 2011, and later dissolves into a dystopian nightmare.
Courtesy Ai Weiwei

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 8:18 pm

The man ArtReview magazine named the most powerful artist in the world is trying his hand at rock stardom. In 2011, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in detention. He was later let go and charged with tax evasion.

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Parallels
3:05 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Five Years After A Quake, Chinese Cite Shoddy Reconstruction

The wife of Li Yiqian, Yang Liming, sits in their house, which is plastered with pictures of China's leaders, an attempt to help prevent local authorities from demolishing it. Her husband has been sentenced to three years in prison for organizing a crowd to create a disturbance; she believes it's for his work in helping dispossessed villagers petition.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 5:42 pm

Five years after the massive Wenchuan quake in China's Sichuan province left about 90,000 dead and missing, allegations are surfacing that corruption and official wrongdoing have plagued the five-year-long quake reconstruction effort.

The official press is full of praise for how "all Chinese have a reason to be proud of what the concerted efforts of the entire nation achieved in creating a new life for the survivors."

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The Two-Way
4:05 pm
Sat May 4, 2013

To Silence Discontent, Chinese Officials Alter Workweek

Protesters demonstrate against plans for a factory to produce paraxylene, a toxic chemical used to make fabrics, in China's Yunnan province on Saturday. In nearby Chengdu, planned protests were thwarted.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 5, 2013 6:03 am

How do you prevent protests in China? Move the weekend.

That's the Orwellian step taken by local authorities in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. May 4 is a sensitive date commemorating an influential student movement in 1919. It's especially potent in Chengdu, where it marks the fifth anniversary of a protest against the construction of a $6 billion crude oil refinery and petrochemical facility in Pengzhou, 25 miles away.

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The Two-Way
3:13 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Chinese Dreams: Freedom, Democracy And Clean Air

Pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong sing and shout slogans during a January protest. Chinese leaders and the state-run media are now speaking often of the Chinese dream, though there's no real consensus on what it means.
Philippe Lopez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:22 pm

"What is your Chinese dream?"

With Chinese leaders and the state-run media now talking about the notion of the Chinese dream, we posed this question on our NPR Weibo account. In China, Weibo is the equivalent of Twitter. Within several hours, we received more than 100 replies.

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Asia
2:47 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Chasing The Chinese Dream — If You Can Define It

A woman in downtown Beijing walks past a building adorned with a patriotic mural by Chinese graffiti artists on April 22.
Stephen Shaver UPI/Landov

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 8:16 pm

Forget about the American dream. Nowadays, the next big thing is the Chinese dream. In Beijing, it's the latest official slogan, mentioned on the front page of the official People's Daily 24 times in a single week recently.

With this level of publicity from the official propaganda machine, the Chinese dream even looks set to be enshrined as the new official ideology.

But what exactly is it?

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The Two-Way
12:45 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

China's New Urban Legend That Turned Out Not To Be

China's President Xi Jinping (center back) walks to his seat as he arrives at the opening ceremony of the annual Boao Forum in Boao, in southern China's Hainan province, on Sunday.
Alexander F. Yuan AP

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 8:27 pm

In China, countless television soap operas have been based on the adventures of Emperor Kangxi, a Qing ruler in the 17th century who, according to legend, would slip off his yellow dragon-embroidered silk robes to travel incognito among his people.

For several hours Thursday, a story went viral on the Chinese Internet that the new Communist equivalent of the emperor, President Xi Jinping, had pulled the same trick.

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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
12:57 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

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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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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NPR Story
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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Music News
3:20 am
Mon February 18, 2013

'China's Leonard Cohen' Calls Out Political Corruption

Zuoxiao Zuzhou performing at his first concert in Beijing in two years on Jan. 18.
Yao Lei Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 6:42 am

Zuoxiao Zuzhou is a Chinese singer whose accented, croaky voice is hardly ever in tune. But for his fans he's the voice of a generation — one of the very few voices who dare to speak out. After a collaboration, Cowboy Junkies member Michael Timmins called him "China's Leonard Cohen."

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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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