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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The Two-Way
12:13 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 1:22 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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The Changing Lives Of Women
12:42 am
Tue April 23, 2013

For Chinese Women, Marriage Depends On Right 'Bride Price'

Lucy Wang and Derek Wei represent the new modern Chinese bride and groom. With a lack of women in China, Wei had to pay more than $10,000 in a "bride price" to attract Wang to marry him.
Sim Chi Yin for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 12:05 pm

Women hold up half the sky, China's Chairman Mao famously said. But in China, the one-child policy and the traditional preference for boys mean that 117 boys are born for every 100 baby girls. By one estimate, this means there could be 24 million Chinese men unable to find wives by the end of the decade.

As China's economy booms, the marriage market has become just that: a market, with new demands by women for apartments and cars.

But are women really benefiting from their scarcity?

Let's Make A Deal

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Asia
3:11 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 7:34 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
12:36 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 7:15 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
9:57 am
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 10:09 am

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
5:30 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 7:26 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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The Two-Way
5:21 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 11:08 am

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
3:18 am
Tue March 5, 2013

National People's Congress Opens, Prepares For Leadership Change

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 4:54 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
1:20 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 4:42 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
1:03 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 6:30 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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