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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4:32am

Mon September 24, 2012
Asia

Signs Emerge Of Economic Change In North Korea

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 7:08 am

Workers plant rice at a co-op farm in Nampo, North Korea, on May 12. The North Korean leadership has given indications that it may be preparing to implement measures to liberalize the country's economy.
Kyodo/Landov

An unusual parliamentary meeting is due to open Tuesday in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, amid speculation of sweeping changes ahead. In the first such confirmation from within the country, farmers told The Associated Press they would be given more control over their crops under new agricultural rules. Long seen as an economic basket case, North Korea now could be on the cusp of economic change.

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2:52pm

Wed September 19, 2012
Asia

China Offers Glimpse Of A New Stealth Fighter

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 6:27 am

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

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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4:11am

Tue September 18, 2012
NPR Story

U.S. Calls For Calm Over Disputed Asian Islands

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:18 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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9:24am

Mon September 17, 2012
The Two-Way

China Ratchets Up The Rhetoric In Island Spat With Japan

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 7:52 am

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

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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5:35am

Sun September 16, 2012
Asia

Chinese Flood Streets In Anti-Japan Demonstrations

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 8:48 am

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

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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3:41am

Sat September 15, 2012
The Two-Way

Anti-Japan Protests Erupt In China Over Disputed Islands

Originally published on Sat September 15, 2012 5:56 am

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

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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7:57pm

Tue September 11, 2012
Asia

China's President-To-Be Mysteriously Absent

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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2:46am

Wed September 5, 2012
Asia

No Breakthroughs In Clinton's Trip To China

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 4:34 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been visiting Chinese officials, talking of mutual cooperation, despite a lot of tension. So far her visit to Beijing has produced no breakdowns but also no breakthroughs. Here's NPR's Louisa Lim.

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1:08pm

Wed August 29, 2012
The Two-Way

With Photo And A Joke, Neil Bush Becomes Internet Sensation In China

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 1:29 pm

Neil Bush in a picture he posted on Weibo.
Weibo

China's latest online sensation is a Bush, but perhaps surprisingly, it's neither the 41st or the 43rd President of the US. In fact, Neil Bush, the younger brother of 43 and the son of 41 has become an online sensation in China after posting a joke photo on China's version of twitter.

Neil Bush was virtually unknown in China a week ago, despite being co-chairman of Beijing-based real estate company, CIIC.

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1:33am

Tue August 21, 2012
Dead Stop

Deaths Tell The Story Of Life In Old Hong Kong

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 7:01 am

For more than a decade, author Patricia Lim researched the 8,000 graves of the Hong Kong Cemetery, one of the city's oldest Christian cemeteries. Here, Lim stands at the grave of former Hong Kong police officer Richardson Barry Loxley Leslie. Last year, she rested on the grave while, unbeknownst to her at the time, she was having a mild heart attack.
Louisa Lim NPR

Below a noisy flyover alongside Hong Kong's Happy Valley racecourse, there's a little-noticed green oasis stretching up the hillside, punctuated by imposing Victorian chest tombs, granite obelisks and delicate angels. This is Hong Kong cemetery, the last resting place of the early settlers who colonized the island, starting in the 1840s.

For my mother, Patricia Lim, the cemetery is a repository of the island's early untold early history.

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10:27am

Fri July 27, 2012
Asia

Pay, Not Play, Fuels British Invasion Of Chinese Soccer

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 11:20 am

Federico Macheda of Manchester United (center) challenges players from Shanghai Shenhua during a friendly match between the two teams in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday.
Hong Wu Getty Images

On a gray, polluted Beijing morning, parents peer through a fence anxiously at their little darlings' wobbly dribbling skills on the soccer pitch, as they try to score goals against former Manchester City goalkeeper Alex Williams.

Across town, Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta poses gamely with another group of Chinese kids.

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5:28am

Thu July 26, 2012
Asia

Beijing Flooding Compared To Katrina

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 8:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

In China, authorities are still counting the cost of heavy weekend flooding in Beijing. Officials now say 37 people died and more than 60,000 homes were damaged. Loses are estimated at nearly two billion dollars, but as NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing, some of the damage is to the government's credibility.

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1:02am

Fri July 20, 2012
Asia

N. Korean Conundrum: Are Political Changes Real?

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 8:28 pm

In this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency and distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service on July 9, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen with a woman in Pyongyang. It's not clear who she is, but a first lady would be a marked departure from the days of Kim's father, who kept his personal life private.
AP

North Korea's army has been swearing oaths of loyalty to leader Kim Jong Un after he was given the new title of marshal of the nation, cementing his position. This comes just days after the army chief was dismissed for illness. Analysts suspect these announcements are masking far deeper changes, but there's disagreement about what it means.

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1:17am

Tue July 10, 2012
Asia

China's Post-Olympic Woe: How To Fill An Empty Nest

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 9:31 pm

Fireworks light the night sky above the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The stadium is largely empty these days.
Franck Fife AFP/Getty Images

As the opening date for the London Olympics nears, Beijing's acclaimed Olympic venues are saddled with high maintenance costs and are struggling to get by. And the most famous, the Bird's Nest stadium, has been repudiated by its own creator, dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Even the state-run government mouthpiece, the China Daily, worries that Beijing's iconic structures risk becoming "white elephants."

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2:51am

Mon July 2, 2012
Asia

Hong Kong Status Update

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 10:36 am

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his wife, Regina, shake hands with supporters Sunday during a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China. Leung was sworn in as Hong Kong's third leader amid growing discontent with China's rule over the Asian financial center.
Kin Cheung AP

It's a pretty bad first day at work when hundreds of thousands of people march through the streets calling for your resignation. That's what happened Sunday to Hong Kong's new leader, Leung Chun-ying, who was appointed by Beijing. The huge turnout presents new problems for China amid its own difficult power transition.

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5:55am

Sun July 1, 2012
Asia

Hong Kong Speaks 'Truth' To New Man In Power

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 4:17 pm

Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attends the flag-raising ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover to China in Hong Kong Sunday.
Kin Cheung AP

China's President Hu Jintao has sworn in a new leader for Hong Kong amid huge public protests.The island is marking the 15th anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty, but mistrust toward China is at its highest level since Hong Kong's handover in 1997.

Sunday morning began with the pomp of a flag-raising ceremony, and a fly-past by helicopters bearing the Hong Kong and national Chinese flags. Then Hong Kong's new leader, self-made millionaire Leung Chun-ying, took his oath of office.

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12:34pm

Fri June 29, 2012
Asia

A Portrait Of Chinese Corruption, In Rosy Pink

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

Artist and filmmaker Zhang Bingjian sits in his Beijing studio in front of his Hall of Fame — portraits of corrupt Chinese officials. He has commissioned portraits of 1,600 officials convicted of corruption.
Angie Quan NPR

Corruption is usually thought to be a bad thing. But in China, the answer is no longer crystal clear.

For decades, the country's Communist Party has declared that corruption threatens its very survival. But there are signs that this is changing. Recently, the state-run media have begun arguing that corruption can't be stamped out, so it should be contained to acceptable levels. And some corruption appears to be tacitly condoned.

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4:23am

Thu June 21, 2012
Asia

Ai Weiwei Says He Is Barred From Leaving China

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 8:41 am

In a park in Beijing, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei holds a copy of a government document informing him of the expiry of his bail term.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Dissident and artist Ai Weiwei said Thursday that he has been forbidden from leaving China, despite the lifting of strict bail conditions imposed after he was released from detention last year. This comes a day after a hearing on his tax evasion case, which he was prevented from attending.

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3:08am

Tue June 12, 2012
Asia

Hijacking Reveals Strains In China-North Korea Ties

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 8:00 am

A Chinese paramilitary guard gestures outside the North Korean Embassy in Beijing on May 17. Tensions between the two countries are rising after unidentified North Koreans hijacked three Chinese fishing boats and demanded ransom, before releasing the vessels and their crew.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

New strains are emerging between China and its old ally, North Korea, six months after the death of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The recent North Korean hijacking of Chinese fishing boats has shaken those ties considerably, leading to public pressure on China to stand up to North Korea.

Fishing boats returning to their home port in China don't normally make the news. But they did last month, because three boats — and 28 fishermen — had been detained for almost two weeks in North Korea.

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12:57am

Tue June 5, 2012
Asia

What China's Thinkers Need Most Is Also Most Elusive

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 8:35 am

Yang Weidong interviews a subject for his documentary project "Signal," which finds that the vast majority of China's intellectuals yearn most for freedom. He plans to interview 500 of China's top thinkers for the project.
Courtesy Yang Weidong

A deceptively simple question has become an obsession for Chinese artist Yang Weidong: "What do you need?"

For the past four years, Yang has posed the question to more than 300 Chinese intellectuals, and the results illustrate a startling level of discontent among China's thinkers.

As for the answer, one word pops up time and time again.

"I need freedom," says writer Chang Ping.

"I need freedom of speech," says economist Mao Yushi.

"I need freedom of expression," says poet Ye Kuangzheng.

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