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Louisa Lim

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.

  • A commission is investigating complaints by military academy students who say systematic sexual abuse was inflicted on new recruits dating back to the 1970s.
  • Suppressing its own people with tanks and guns 25 years ago was a pivotal act of modern China. Beijing hoped economic prosperity would make people forget. But the legacy of Tiananmen remains potent.
  • Some super-rich Chinese are sending their kids to weekend classes in order to learn how to deal with money. The lessons include things like a charity sale designed to teach the children compassion, sharing and the value of money.
  • The leaked photos came just before a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Last year, the Chinese tested a stealth plane while the previous defense secretary, Robert Gates, was visiting. The moves are seen as an attempt by the Chinese to show off their rapidly expanding military technology.
  • China's state-run media warns of trade retaliation against Japan, following a weekend of anti-Japanese protests across China over Japan's purchase of disputed islands in the East China Sea. As the economic cost of these protests begins to escalate, NPR correspondent Louisa Lim tries to find out exactly who's behind them.
  • Recent scandals have apparently cost Bo Xilai his job as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Bo had once seemed headed straight for China's top leadership body, but corruption allegations and an imbroglio involving his former right-hand man helped drive him from power.
  • A South Korean man meant for his Twitter profile picture, with its backdrop of a North Korean flag, to be a visual parody of North Korean news programs. Now, Park Jong-kun may be charged with violating a security law from 1948. Critics say it's being used to stifle free speech on North Korea.
  • U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke returns to his ancestral village in southern China for the first time since his appointment. The Chinese-American was criticized as "a fake foreign devil who can't speak Chinese." But his humble behavior — flying economy, carrying his own bag — has won him many fans.
  • As Shanghai's World Expo readies to open May 1, the final countdown is on. And after an eight-year build-up, Shanghai is suffering from the tyranny of high expectations.
  • Japan steps up pressure on North Korea, warning Sunday that "all options are on the table" if the communist state test-launches a long-range missile. The last North Korean missile launch in 1998 sparked a debate about Japan's national defense and strengthened its nationalist sentiment.