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.


2:15 pm
Wed July 27, 2011

China Fears U.S. Debt Default, But Has Few Options

As the U.S. teeters closer to the brink of debt default, the political stalemate is being watched closely by its biggest foreign creditor, China. At last count, Beijing owned almost $1.2 trillion of U.S. Treasury debt.

Chinese officials have been quietly expressing their concern, but Beijing's options are limited.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met senior Chinese official Dai Bingguo in Shenzhen on Monday, the mood was friendly. But behind the scenes, anxiety in China is rising as the minutes tick closer toward that Aug. 2 deadline.

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3:55 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

China's Professional Queuers Paid To Stand Around

Queuer Li Qicai waits in line at a Shanghai hospital to collect traditional Chinese medicine for a customer. He says he does a dozen hospital jobs a week.
Louisa Lim NPR

In China, waiting in line sometimes feels like a competitive sport. The overnight queue at the launch of Apple's iPad 2 pales in comparison to the epic waits for certain over-subscribed state-run services.

Earlier this month, people waited four days and three nights to register for low-income housing in the central city of Xian, while admission to a certain Beijing kindergarten in Changping last year required a week-long, round-the-clock queue, for which people set up camp beds along the pavement.

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9:42 am
Wed July 13, 2011

China Seeks To Carve Out A Space Of Its Own

A visitor stands near the Shenzhou 5 re-entry capsule that was used in China's first human spaceflight mission, and the space suit worn by crew member Yang Liwei at an exhibition in Beijing on July 6.
Alexander F. Yuan AP

As the U.S. winds up its space shuttle program, Beijing is shooting for the moon.

Chairman Mao once said China would never be a great nation if it couldn't even shoot a potato into space. But in 2003, it became only the third country to send a man into orbit, and since then it's launched five more astronauts — or "taikonauts" as they've been christened here, showing how China's even trying to leave its own mark on space vocabulary.

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4:00 am
Fri July 1, 2011

After 90 Years, Graft Threatens China's Communists

As China's Communist Party celebrates its 90th anniversary, President Hu Jintao has warned that its long rule has led to grave corruption. With 80 million members, it's now the world's largest political party. But facing rampant corruption and growing dissatisfaction, can this revolutionary party survive?

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12:01 am
Mon June 27, 2011

Japanese Ask: What Kind Of Changes Do We Want?

A Japanese man, who had believed official statements that radiation was not being released, expresses shock as a radiation monitor goes off the scale in this March 13 photo taken not far from the damaged Fukushima power plant.
Courtesy of Ryuichi Hirokawa

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:42 am

At a hospital in northern Japan, two high school girls drag a muddy bed outside, puffing with exertion, before throwing it onto a huge trash heap. Other kids push wheelbarrows brimming with a brown sludge made of mud and seawater.

The whole high school class is cleaning up the waterlogged Minami-hama Chuo Hospital, near the northeastern city of Iwanuma. The tsunami three months ago left 10-foot-high brown tidemarks on the hospital's walls. Nearby, cars have been thrown into a newly created lake.

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