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.

Pages

Asia
5:35 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Hijacking Reveals Strains In China-North Korea Ties

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

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 10:00 am

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.

Read more
Asia
2:57 am
Tue June 5, 2012

What China's Thinkers Need Most Is Also Most Elusive

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

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 10:35 am

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.

Read more
Asia
4:24 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

A Tweet, A Year In A Labor Camp, And Now An Appeal

Fang Hong is seeking compensation for the year he spent in a Chinese labor camp — his sentence for a scatological tweet that mocked politician Bo Xilai and Police Chief Wang Lijun.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 5:24 pm

This is the tale of a single tweet and its far-reaching consequences in China.

In April 2011, retired forestry official Fang Hong posted a scatological tweet, mocking a powerful Chinese politician, Bo Xilai, the Chongqing party secretary.

Read more
Asia
12:53 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

The Price Of A Swift Pigeon: Try $328,000

Xing Wei, who raises pigeons for lucrative races in China, is shown in Beijing with his favorite bird, Ike. He sells Ike's offspring to wealthy buyers for $15,000.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 5:46 pm

To the average observer, they look like ordinary pigeons, caged into a balcony in a high-rise Beijing apartment. But make no mistake. These cooing birds, according to breeder Yang Shibo, are like top-of-the-line sports cars.

"These are the Ferraris of the bird world," he says. "They're the most expensive, and the fastest."

The price of racing pigeons is soaring sky-high, pushed up by wealthy Chinese buyers.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:37 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Why Chen's Blindness Is 'The Central Fact' Of The Chinese Activist's Life

Chen Guangcheng, in an undated photo.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 11:38 am

For two weeks now, the world has been following the story of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. And in nearly all reports, the phrase "blind activist" is used at least once.

Read more
Asia
6:48 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Chen Fears Supporters Will Pay For His Escape

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 7:41 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Read more
Asia
5:23 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Two Crises Highlight China's Social Media Struggles

Blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, seen in this image from a YouTube video, escaped last week after 19 months under house arrest. Searches for his name are banned on China's Twitter-like services.
AP

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 9:13 am

China is clamping down on social media as it grapples with a crisis over the escape of a high-profile dissident, apparently to U.S. protection. The case presents new difficulties for a Chinese leadership already struggling to deal with the scandalous downfall of a powerful politician, and it complicates U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Beijing this week.

Yet China's use of social media in dealing with these two recent crises has been a study in contrasts.

Read more
Asia
9:46 am
Sun April 29, 2012

Chinese Activist's Escape Quickens A Quiet Diplomacy

Chinese activist Chen Guangchen is believed to be under U.S. protection, possibly at the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 12:31 pm

A senior U.S. official, Kurt Campbell, has arrived on an unscheduled trip to Beijing, apparently to negotiate over Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, believed to be under U.S. protection. The fate of the activist puts both China and the U.S. in a tricky diplomatic bind, with no easy answers.

Read more
Asia
4:42 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Chinese Journalist: Bo Xilai Had History Of Bribes

Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attended a plenary session of the National People's Congress last month in Beijing, shortly before he was stripped of all his Politburo positions.
Ng Han Guan AP

Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 2:10 pm

China is gripped by a tale of murder, betrayal, flight and intrigue that threatens the stability of the entire nation. At its heart is the death of a 41-year-old British businessman in a hotel room in the city of Chongqing last fall. The scandal has brought down a high-flying Chinese politician, Chongqing's party secretary Bo Xilai, and his wife, with China's state-run media hinting at their corruption and abuse of power.

Read more
Asia
8:00 am
Sun April 15, 2012

Failed Rocket Looms Over N. Korean Anniversary

Originally published on Sun April 15, 2012 1:43 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. North Korea's new young leader, Kim Jong Un, stood before cheering troops and citizens today to make his first public speech. The address rounded off two weeks of celebrations to mark 100 years since the birth of the nation's late founder and comes in the wake of Friday's failed missile launch. NPR's Louisa Lim reports on a new approach to leadership in the world's most isolated nation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Read more
Asia
1:56 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

North Korea To Launch Rocket, And A New Power Play

A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket on a launchpad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities northwest of Pyongyang on April 8.
Bobby Yip Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed April 11, 2012 8:51 pm

As North Korea gears up to launch a long-range rocket, political changes are afoot, too: Pyongyang has consolidated its succession process, giving a new title to its new leader, Kim Jong Un, who came to power in December after his father's death.

The rocket launch, which could come as early as Thursday in North Korea, has been condemned by the international community as being in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. So why now?

Read more
Asia
3:36 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Abuse Claims Follow Mafia Crackdown In Chinese City

Lawyer Li Zhuang spent more than a year in prison on charges of fabricating evidence and inciting witnesses, after trying to defend an alleged gangster. Li's case became a national cause celebre.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 8:23 pm

The swift downfall of ambitious Chinese politician Bo Xilai exposed a bitter power struggle in the highest echelons of government. Now his victims are telling their stories, exposing a darker side to Bo's signature clampdown on organized crime.

Charismatic and outspoken, Bo seemed headed for the country's top leadership body, the Politburo Standing Committee, before he was removed abruptly from his post — as party secretary of the major southern city of Chongqing — earlier this month.

Read more
NPR Story
4:00 am
Mon March 26, 2012

Businessman Chosen As Hong Kong's Next Leader

A selection committee in Hong Kong has chosen a former Cabinet chief as the southern Chinese financial hubs next leader. The voters were handpicked by Beijing. Leung Chun-ying's term will start in July.

Asia
3:43 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

For Hong Kong And Mainland, Distrust Only Grows

Joyce Wong, a pregnant 30-year-old, takes part in a January 15 protest against immigration laws that allow babies born in Hong Kong to mainland Chinese mothers to be eligible for residency, education and medical care in the territory. Hong Kong residents fear the influx of mainlanders will further burden overtaxed resources.
Joyce Woo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 25, 2012 2:32 am

A committee of Hong Kong's handpicked elite will select the territory's new leader this weekend after a hotly contested fight, which has left both the main front-runners tainted by scandal.

It's been 15 years since Hong Kong, a former British colony, reverted to Chinese sovereignty, yet tensions between local people and those from the mainland run deeper than ever.

Read more
Asia
4:00 am
Thu March 15, 2012

China Removes Flamboyant Politician From Post

Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai leaves after the third plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at The Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9. Bo had been seen as a leading contender to access the top rungs of power in China, but in a dramatic reversal of fortune, he was sacked Thursday amid a rare public scandal.
Feng Li Getty Images

In a moment of high political drama, China has removed flamboyant politician Bo Xilai from his post as party secretary of the major southern city of Chongqing. The sacking comes as Beijing approaches a once-in-a-decade power transition this fall, offering a glimpse of the Machiavellian political struggle behind the scenes.

Read more
Asia
4:00 am
Tue March 13, 2012

Beijing Bling: Wealth On Display In China's Congress

Yang Lan, TV host and delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, carries a Marc Jacobs handbag outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 3. Nicknamed "the Oprah Winfrey of China," Yang has also been seen wearing a Giorgio Armani jacket during the legislative session.
Wang Zhou/Imaginechina AP

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 3:14 pm

A leather belt from Hermes priced at almost $1,000 — nearly a year's salary for the average Chinese farmer. A bright pink, $2,000 trouser suit from Emilio Pucci. A red snakeskin Celine handbag that costs $4,500.

These weren't items at a fashion show, but luxury goods spotted on delegates hurrying to China's annual legislative assembly sessions.

Read more
Asia
4:00 am
Mon March 5, 2012

China's National People's Opens Annual Session

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 10:51 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now just as the U.S. economy seems to be picking up, China's is not. The Chinese government has downgraded its economic growth target to the slowest rate in eight years. China's premier says the country needs to boost consumer demand, and address what he calls unsustainable development.

NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Read more
Asia
7:58 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

Vote In Small Chinese Village Holds Big Meaning

Residents of Wukan in China's southern Guangdong province fill in forms before voting in village elections on Saturday.
Peter Parks AFP/Getty Images

In southern China, a village that rebelled against corrupt Communist officials has elected the main protest leaders as its new village committee leaders. Reformers are hoping this could be a template for defusing unrest through grassroots democracy, but others say the experience of the rebellious village is unique.

Read more
Asia
4:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Hong Kong To Elect New Chief Executive

Later this month, an election will be held to select Hong Kong's next chief executive. The race has been tarnished with accusations of extra-marital affairs and conflicts of interest. As the local press puts it: Beijing has lost control of the puppet strings.

Asia
3:28 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

On Tibetan Plateau, A Sense Of Constant Surveillance

Ethnic Tibetan pilgrims walk on a road during Tibetan New Year in Langmusixiang, Sichuan province, in western China, Feb. 22. Celebrations are subdued in the Tibetan areas of China this year, after a string of self-immolations and protest against Chinese control.
Carlos Barria Reuters /Landov

Wednesday marks the traditional Tibetan New Year, but many Tibetans won't be celebrating. They'll be mourning the almost two-dozen people who set themselves on fire in the past year as a protest against Chinese rule. Eyewitnesses say the town of Aba, site of many of the self-immolations, resembles a Chinese military camp, with soldiers and riot police every few feet. NPR's Louisa Lim traveled elsewhere on the Tibetan plateau to cover the story and sent this dispatch.

Read more

Pages