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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2:42am

Tue April 23, 2013
The Changing Lives Of Women

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

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 2:05 pm

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

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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5:11am

Sat March 30, 2013
Asia

North Korea's Stepped-Up Rhetoric: Is It More Than Talk?

Originally published on Sat March 30, 2013 9:34 am

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

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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2:36pm

Fri March 15, 2013
Asia

From Police Chief To Political Office, Jobs Are For Sale In China

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 9:15 pm

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

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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11:34am

Mon March 11, 2013
The Two-Way

Tibetan Customs Include Horse Races ... And Paramilitary Police?

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 12:09 pm

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

In the exiled Tibetan calendar, March 10 is an emotive day, the anniversary of a failed uprising in 1959.

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7:30am

Mon March 11, 2013
The Two-Way

While U.S And South Korea Militaries Drill, 'Bombast Continues' From The North

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 9:26 am

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
  • 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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6:21am

Wed March 6, 2013
The Two-Way

In China, Baby's Brutal Death Raises Questions For Many About Nation's Values

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 12:08 pm

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

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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2:20am

Mon February 18, 2013
Music News

'China's Leonard Cohen' Calls Out Political Corruption

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 5:42 am

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

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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2:03pm

Thu February 7, 2013
Asia

American Woman Gives Domestic Abuse A Face, And Voice, In China

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 7:30 pm

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

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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12:49pm

Wed January 23, 2013
Asia

'Friends' Will Be There For You At Beijing's Central Perk

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 7:53 pm

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

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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2:20am

Wed January 9, 2013
Asia

Become A Successful Chinese Bureaucrat, In 5 Easy Steps

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 7:16 pm

Former civil servant Wang Xiaofang is the author of 13 books on "bureaucracy literature," including The Civil Servant's Notebook, which recently was translated into English.
Louisa Lim NPR

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey. In China, "bureaucracy lit" is flying off bookstore shelves. With the books' stories of Machiavellian office politics, they're read avidly, both as entertainment and as how-to guides for aspiring civil servants.

So what is the secret to success in the corridors of power?

Here is a five-point guide to success, with tips gleaned from the pioneers of bureaucracy lit.

Lesson 1: Cultivate your connections.

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3:07pm

Mon January 7, 2013
Asia

China Pledges Reforms To Labor Camps, But Offers Few Details

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 7:23 pm

Ren Jianyu poses for a photograph at a restaurant in Chongqing, China, on Nov. 19, 2012, after being freed from a labor camp. The village official was sentenced to a "re-education through labor" camp after he criticized the government.
STR Reuters/Landov

China has indicated that it will stop handing down sentences to its controversial labor camps, which allow detention without trial for up to four years. According to Chinese media, some 160,000 prisoners were held in "re-education centers" at the end of 2008.

Critics of the system greeted the announcement — which was slim on details — with cautious optimism.

Pressure to change the system has been mounting after a number of high-profile cases, including that of Ren Jianyu, who had been a young village official.

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6:34am

Sat December 22, 2012
Asia

A Tumultuous Year, Seen Through North Korean Eyes

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 10:40 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is the end of a tumultuous year for North Koreans, who in the past year have seen the death of a longtime leader, the ascension of his young son, a failed rocket launch and most recently, the successful launch of a long-range rocket. NPR's Louisa Lim recently had a rare opportunity to see the year through North Korean eyes after she met five North Koreans in China, all of whom left the north earlier this year. We bring you that story in this encore broadcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF NORTH KOREAN BROADCAST)

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1:52pm

Mon December 10, 2012
Asia

Hunger Still Haunts North Korea, Citizens Say

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 7:44 pm

The U.N. says food supplies in North Korea have increased, but citizens who spoke to NPR say many people are going hungry. In this photo from Aug. 13, workers stand next to a field that was damaged by flooding in Songchon County, North Korea.
David Guttenfelder AP

While North Korea has long struggled with dire food shortages, the United Nations now assesses its food situation as being the best in many years. But NPR has had unusual access to five North Koreans in China, who paint a dramatically different, and alarming, picture.

Even as North Korea mourned its leader Kim Jong Il last December, one surprising thing was on people's minds: fish. State-run television showed people lining up in shops; the dear leader's last wish, apparently, was to provide fish to his people.

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2:20am

Mon December 10, 2012
Asia

A Tumultuous Year, Seen Through North Korean Eyes

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 6:39 pm

North Korean soldiers march during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang on April 15. It was supposed to be the year North Korea would become a "strong and prosperous" nation. That hasn't exactly been the case.
Pedro Ugarte AFP/Getty Images

North Korea is preparing to launch a long-range rocket as it rounds off a tumultuous year marked by the sudden death of leader Kim Jong Il last December, the ascension of his 20-something son, and the humiliating failure of a rocket launch in April.

NPR recently interviewed five North Koreans in a northern Chinese city, gaining a rare glimpse of that eventful year through North Korean eyes. They were all visiting China legally, having left North Korea within the past few months.

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10:11am

Wed December 5, 2012
The Two-Way

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

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

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

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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