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
10:11 am
Wed December 5, 2012

China's Communists Declare War ... On Boring Meetings

Must ... stay .... awake: A Chinese paramilitary police officer yawns and his colleagues fall asleep while then-President Hu Jintao delivers a speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Dec. 18, 2008.
Andy Wong AP

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 8:14 pm

Suffer from insomnia? The droning rhythm of a Chinese Communist official reading a work report out loud will likely do the trick.

It certainly does for many party members: Just 10 minutes into any party meeting, look down the serried ranks of the attendees, and you'll spot the dozers and snoozers, napping away, heads lolling lazily toward their neighbors.

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Asia
4:13 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Will China's First Lady Outshine Her Husband?

A famous singer, a major general in the army and an AIDS activist, Peng Liyuan is expected to take on yet another role soon: first lady of China. Peng has been married for more than two decades to Xi Jinping, China's newly anointed leader.
Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 2:03 am

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Asia
5:17 am
Mon November 12, 2012

China's Next Leader Has A Soft Spot For Iowa Town

China's vice president, Xi Jinping, who is poised to become the country's new leader, is widely traveled and stayed briefly in Muscatine, Iowa, in the 1980s. He returned again in February of this year and met some of the people he knew from his earlier visit. Xi, right, is shown greeting Muscatine resident Eleanor Dvorchak.
Kevin E. Schmidt AP

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 11:50 am

China is inching toward anointing a new party leader later this week: Xi Jinping, the current vice-president.

In that role, he's visited forty-one countries, traveling more widely than any other Chinese leader-to-be. And in all his globetrotting, he's kept a soft spot for the small town of Muscatine, Iowa.

Xi returned to Muscatine this February, twenty-seven years after his first visit, when he was a young government official.

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Asia
4:44 am
Sun November 11, 2012

Recording The Untold Stories Of China's Great Famine

Shu Qiao in front of the memorial (on the left side) he erected to the 32 victims of the famine in Shuangjing village, in the central province of Henan. The memorial is part of the Folk Memory Project, which records the stories of Chinese peasants who lived through the Great Famine a half-century ago.
Courtesy of Shu Qiao

Originally published on Sun November 11, 2012 8:50 pm

Second of a two-part series. Find the first part here.

A young man trudges doggedly around his village, notebook in hand, fringe flopping over his glasses. He goes from door to door, calling on the elderly.

The young man has one main question: Who died in our village during the Great Famine?

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Asia
4:26 am
Sat November 10, 2012

A Grim Chronicle Of China's Great Famine

Chinese villagers welcome the arrival of tractors purchased by a farmers' cooperative in April 1958, during the Great Leap Forward campaign. The disastrous modernization program ended in China's great famine and tens of millions of deaths.
Keystone-France Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 10:29 am

First of two parts

It's not often that a book comes out that rewrites a country's history. But that's the case with Tombstone, which was written by a retired Chinese reporter who spent 10 years secretly collecting official evidence about the country's devastating great famine. The famine, which began in the late 1950s, resulted in the deaths of millions of Chinese.

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Asia
2:16 am
Fri November 9, 2012

For China's Rising Leader, A Cave Was Once Home

Xi Jinping (left) who is poised to become China's next leader, spent seven years living in a cave home in the 1960s and '70s after his father fell from power.
Lan Hongguang Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Sun November 11, 2012 8:47 pm

Far from the political theater of China's Communist Party Congress in Beijing this week is a cave that the country's next leader once called home.

Just 15 at the time, Xi Jinping was sent by his family in Beijing to the remote rural village Liangjiahe in the hills of Shaanxi Province, hundreds of miles away, where for seven years he lived in a cave scooped out of the yellow loess hillsides.

He arrived there in 1968, after his father, a revolutionary fighter and former vice premier, had fallen from political favor.

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Asia
12:32 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Highly Scripted, China Moves Toward New Leaders

Chinese Communist Party leaders attend the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Thursday. The meeting marks the beginning of a once-in-a-decade transfer of power.
Alexander F. Yuan AP

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 7:31 pm

Two days after the U.S. election, another major political development is unfolding on the other side of the world. China began its once-in-a-decade transition of power on Thursday with the opening of its 18th Communist Party Congress.

With its lack of personalities or political platforms, it is almost diametrically opposed to the hurly-burly of U.S. elections. In Beijing, the message was about fighting corruption and keeping the Communist Party in power.

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Asia
6:55 am
Wed November 7, 2012

China Greets Obama's Re-Election With Muted Relief

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 7:48 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In China, President Obama's re-election has been greeted with muted relief, as NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing.

LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: As the vote closed in the U.S., ballots were still being cast in Beijing at a mock voting booth at the U.S. embassy's election party. For Chinese students like Lily Zhang and Zhang Weiwen, the novelty of voting was a heady experience.

LILY ZHANG: It was great. The first time I vote for the American president. That's very amazing and I'm very honored.

LIM: So who did you vote for?

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China: Change Or Crisis
10:09 am
Fri November 2, 2012

China's Assertive Behavior Makes Neighbors Wary

China is currently involved in several disputes with its neighbors over small islands, many of them uninhabited. Here, Chinese fishing boats sail off the island province of Hainan in the South China Sea in July.
AP

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 9:20 pm

As China's global stature grows, Beijing appears to be flexing its muscles more frequently on the international stage. As part of NPR's series on China this week, correspondents Louisa Lim and Frank Langfitt are looking at this evolving foreign policy. From Beijing, Louisa examines the forces driving China's policy, while Frank reports on why China's neighbors are feeling increasingly edgy.

By Louisa Lim

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China: Change Or Crisis
11:36 am
Tue October 30, 2012

In China, A Ceaseless Quest To Silence Dissent

A bloodied woman is helped by demonstrators after clashes with police in a protest against an industrial waste pipeline in Qidong, Jiangsu province, on July 28. The Chinese government devotes enormous resources to suppressing dissent, but opposition to government policies is increasingly common.
Carlos Barria Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 10:06 pm

China is about to get new leaders for the first time in a decade, and it comes at a crucial moment for the world's most populous nation. Economic growth, which surged for decades, has slowed. Demands for political reform have increased and the Communist Party has been hit by scandal. In a series of stories this week, NPR is examining the multiple challenges facing China. In this story, Louisa Lim looks at China's pervasive efforts to maintain order.

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China: Change Or Crisis
10:34 am
Mon October 29, 2012

China's New Leaders Inherit Country At A Crossroads

"The Defense of Yan'an" re-enacts a 1947 battle to protect Mao Zedong's Communist stronghold during the Chinese Civil War from the Nationalists, who fled to Taiwan.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 9:53 am

China is about to get new leaders for the first time in a decade, and it comes at a sensitive moment for the world's most populous nation. Economic growth, which surged for decades, has slowed. Demands for political reform have increased and the Communist Party has been hit by scandal. In a series of stories this week, NPR is examining the multiple challenges facing China. In our first story, Louisa Lim looks at how the Chinese view the Communist Party in the place where it took shape.

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China: Change Or Crisis
10:31 am
Mon October 29, 2012

At 79, Ex-Party Official Lambastes Chinese Leaders

Once a top Communist Party figure, 79-year-old Bao Tong was kicked out after he sympathized with the student protesters in 1989.
Louisa Lim NPR

The frail 79-year-old in a pale brown shirt with close-cropped hair sitting at a fast-food restaurant table looks absolutely unremarkable. But Bao Tong has a lightness in his eyes, a confidence that speaks of a man whose conscience is clear, a man with nothing to fear.

"I have become my own person," he says. "When I was a Communist Party member, I had to follow party discipline. When they threw me out of the party, my brain was set free."

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Asia
5:37 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 3:21 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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Asia
4:07 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Signs Emerge Of Economic Change In North Korea

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

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 8:08 am

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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Asia
3:52 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 7:27 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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Asia
5:11 am
Tue September 18, 2012

U.S. Calls For Calm Over Disputed Asian Islands

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:18 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
10:24 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 8:52 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
6:35 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 9:48 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
4:41 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 6:56 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
8:57 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

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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Asia
3:46 am
Wed September 5, 2012

No Breakthroughs In Clinton's Trip To China

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:34 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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The Two-Way
2:08 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

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

Neil Bush in a picture he posted on Weibo.
Weibo

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 2:29 pm

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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Dead Stop
2:33 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Deaths Tell The Story Of Life In Old Hong Kong

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

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 8:01 am

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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Asia
12:07 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Pay, Not Play, Fuels British Invasion Of Chinese Soccer

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

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 12:20 pm

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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Asia
6:28 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Beijing Flooding Compared To Katrina

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 9:35 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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Asia
2:02 am
Fri July 20, 2012

N. Korean Conundrum: Are Political Changes Real?

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

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 9:28 pm

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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Asia
2:17 am
Tue July 10, 2012

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

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

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

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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Asia
6:23 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Hong Kong Residents March Against New Leader

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

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 11:36 am

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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Asia
6:55 am
Sun July 1, 2012

Hong Kong Speaks 'Truth' To New Man In Power

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

Originally published on Sun July 1, 2012 5:17 pm

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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Asia
1:34 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

A Portrait Of Chinese Corruption, In Rosy Pink

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

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 9:26 pm

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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