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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Asia
3:55 am
Fri January 11, 2013

How Will China's New Leadership Handle Censorship Issue?

A man buys the latest edition of Southern Weekly at a newsstand near the newspaper's headquarters in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, on Thursday. The staff at the influential weekly rebelled to protest censorship by government officials; the newspaper was published Thursday after a compromise that called for relaxing some intrusive controls.
Vincent Yu AP

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 1:33 pm

In China, one struggle over censorship has been defused — for the moment, at least.

Journalists at one of the country's boldest newspapers have published a new issue after a weeklong standoff that started when censors replaced a New Year's editorial. Now the week's events are being parsed for signals about the direction of China's new Communist leadership.

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Asia
1:20 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Become A Successful Chinese Bureaucrat, In 5 Easy Steps

The Civil Servant's Notebook, which recently was translated into English." href="/post/become-successful-chinese-bureaucrat-5-easy-steps" class="noexit lightbox">
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

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 6:16 pm

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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Asia
2:07 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

China Pledges Reforms To Labor Camps, But Offers Few Details

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

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 6:23 pm

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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Asia
12:41 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Hunger Still Haunts North Korea, Citizens Say

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

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 6:44 pm

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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Asia
1:20 am
Mon December 10, 2012

A Tumultuous Year, Seen Through North Korean Eyes

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

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 5:39 pm

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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The Two-Way
9:11 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 7:14 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
3:13 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 1:03 am

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Asia
3:44 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 7:50 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
3:26 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 9:29 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
1:16 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 7:47 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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