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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4:00am

Tue November 8, 2011
Asia

South Korean Opposition Delays Free Trade Vote

In South Korea, opposition politicians have delayed the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. The U.S. Congress has ratified the pact. But in South Korea, thousands of opponents have been holding angry street rallies, and a rising mood of anti-American sentiment is helping their cause.

3:44am

Sun November 6, 2011
Asia

'Cake Theory' Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

Originally published on Sun November 6, 2011 6:58 pm

Chinese children celebrate the Communist Party in Chongqing municipality in March. Bo Xilai, the region's party secretary who is vying for a place in the Politburo Standing Committee, espouses a government-intervention model to economics.
STR AFP/Getty Images

What goes on inside China's leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

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5:31am

Fri October 28, 2011
Asia

Chinese Activists Turn To Twitter In Rights Cases

Originally published on Fri October 28, 2011 9:21 pm

Blind activist Chen Guangcheng with his wife and son outside their home in northeast China's Shandong province in 2005. He's been held incommunicado at his home for more than a year and has become the focus of a microblog campaign by human-rights activists.

STR AFP/Getty Images

In China, microblogs are transforming the way activists draw attention to human-rights cases. Despite strict Internet controls, netizens are using Chinese Twitter as a powerful tool.

Two recent cases show just how effective microblogs can be in shaping the debate over human-rights abuses and driving citizen activism.

One case involves a chilling video that was recently released online. In it, a man lies under a green quilt, apparently naked. His left eye and right ear are covered with bandages; the skin on his feet is discolored and peeling.

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11:18am

Wed October 19, 2011
Asia

At 105, Chinese Linguist Now A Government Critic

Originally published on Wed October 19, 2011 11:59 pm

Zhou Youguang, founder of the Pinyin system of romanizing the Chinese language, has published 10 books since turning 100, some reflecting his critical views of the Chinese government. Shown here in his book-lined study, the outspoken Zhou has witnessed a century of change in China.

Louisa Lim NPR

Zhou Youguang should be a Chinese hero after making what some call the world's most important linguistic innovation: He invented Pinyin, a system of romanizing Chinese characters using the Western alphabet.

But instead, this 105-year-old has become a thorn in the government's side. Zhou has published an amazing 10 books since he turned 100, some of which have been banned in China. These, along with outspoken views on the Communist Party and the need for democracy in China, have made him a "sensitive person" — a euphemism for a political dissident.

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12:01am

Mon October 10, 2011
Asia

In China's Red-Hot Art Market, Fraud Abounds

Originally published on Mon October 10, 2011 12:22 pm

These two paintings were up for auction in Hong Kong in February. Art auctions produce eye-popping sales figures in China, though critics say there is a widespread problem with fakes.

Vincent Yu AP

As the global economy teeters, one market is still reaching stratospheric highs: Chinese art.

A Hong Kong auction of fine Chinese paintings earlier this month raised $94.8 million, three times pre-sale estimates. In fact, China is now the world's biggest art market, according to the art information agency Artprice.

Yet all is not what it seems in the murky world of Chinese art auctions, including a painting that sold last year for more than $11 million, but appears not to be what was advertised.

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1:40pm

Mon September 26, 2011
Asia

From Progress To Problem: China's High-Speed Trains

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 8:17 pm

Workers clear the wreckage of a July 23 high-speed-train collision in Wenzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. The crash killed 40 people and raised questions about the safety of the country's high-speed-rail network, which the Chinese government has held up as an example of its technological prowess and with which it had hoped to attract overseas buyers.
STR AFP/Getty Images

China's high-speed trains were supposed to be a gleaming testament to the country's progress and modernity. Instead, a recent crash that killed 40 people has come to symbolize much that's wrong with China's warp-speed development. In particular, a "Great Leap Forward" mentality toward development is clashing with questions of safety.

The notion that fatal accidents are the price of progress seems to have trickled down to some of the passengers on a recent high-speed train journey between Beijing and Nanjing, many of whom characterized the accident as "normal."

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3:29pm

Wed September 21, 2011
Asia

The Curious Case Of The Vanishing Chinese City

Originally published on Wed September 21, 2011 8:20 pm

Chinese officials announced on Aug. 22 that the large city of Chaohu in eastern China no longer existed. The move caught residents by surprise. Chaohu's museum, shown here, houses a Han dynasty tomb, and the city is known for its huge freshwater lake.
Louisa Lim NPR

Imagine a city like Los Angeles disappearing from the map completely. That's exactly what happened to Chaohu, a city in eastern China's Anhui province with a similar population — about 4 million. The people have remained, but the city has vanished in an administrative sleight of hand.

That was the Kafkaesque reality for Chaohu's inhabitants, who went to bed one night and woke up the morning of Aug. 22 to find out that their city no longer existed. For many, their first inkling that something had changed was from the local news.

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12:01am

Thu September 15, 2011
World

China Tells Others To Put Financial House In Order

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers an opening speech Wednesday at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, in northeast China. Wen said developed countries must "first put their own house in order" before they can expect China to help other struggling economies.
Andy Wong AP

As gloom mounts over Europe's debt crisis, some are looking to China to play a leading role in stabilizing the shaky world economy.

But China made clear its reluctance to take on the role of the global economic savior as it hosted the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions.

Polite applause greeted Premier Wen Jiabao as he stepped onto the stage Wednesday in the northeastern Chinese city Dalian, but his words depressed markets in Europe, a sign of the shift in the center of financial gravity.

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3:26pm

Wed September 14, 2011
Asia

Tweeting To Electoral Victory In China? Maybe Not

Labor activist Liu Ping (center) has unleashed a wave of candidates in the latest round of local elections. Here, she and two other campaigners hold a banner that declares, "Fighting fake [things] should start with elections. One person, one vote will change China."
Courtesy of Liu Ping

Liu Ping's phone is tapped. She's followed by men in black cars. Her electricity was cut off. And she was detained and held incommunicado in a hotel for four days.

Her crime? Trying to run for election to the local People's Congress in her hometown of Xinyu in China's southeastern Jiangxi province.

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3:07pm

Tue September 6, 2011
Performing Arts

In Search Of A Stage, Western Opera Singers Try China

Lesson number one: saying "thank you" in Chinese.

"Xie xie. Xie xie. Xie xie," repeats American soprano Maria McDaniel, as she struggles to pin down the elusive Chinese "x" sound.

"Too much lips going on!" is the verdict of her teacher, Katherine Chu, who was an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

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2:05pm

Wed August 3, 2011
Asia

Plagiarism Plague Hinders China's Scientific Ambition

Helen Zhang's University of Zhejiang scientific journal was the first in China to use CrossCheck text analysis software to scan for plagiarism. She discovered that over a two year period, 31 percent of all papers showed unreasonable copying or plagiarism. The results are a symbol of the country's uphill battle to become a global leader in innovative scientific thought.
Louisa Lim NPR

Last in a three-part series

For a decade, Helen Zhang has had a dream: to run an international scientific journal that meets international standards. So she was delighted to be appointed journal director for Zhejiang University in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

In 2008, when her scientific publication, the Journal of Zhejiang University-Science, became the first in China to use CrossCheck text analysis software to spot plagiarism, Zhang was pleased to be a trailblazer. But when the first set of results came in, she was upset and horrified.

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3:35pm

Tue August 2, 2011
Asia

China's Supercomputing Goal: From 'Zero To Hero'

The $60 million Tianhe-1A supercomputer in Tianjin, China.
Louisa Lim NPR

Second in a three-part series

China basked in a moment of technological glory last November when it nudged out the U.S. as home of the world's fastest supercomputer.

The achievement was short-lived — after just six months, a Japanese supercomputer three times as fast supplanted the Chinese machine — but it generated intense national pride.

But questions remain as to whether China's much-vaunted supercomputing program will be able to live up to Beijing's high expectations.

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2:46pm

Mon August 1, 2011
Asia

China Aims To Renew Status As Scientific Superpower

Originally published on Wed August 3, 2011 5:32 pm

A researcher works at the Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics in central China's Hubei province on June 9. Beijing's spending on research and development has increased over the past few years in an effort to re-establish the country's scientific prowess.
AFP/Getty Images

First in a three-part series

China was probably the world's earliest technological superpower, inventing the plow, the compass, gunpowder and block printing. Then, science in the Middle Kingdom languished for centuries.

Until 1893, the Chinese didn't even have a word for "science." That was when a Japanese term originally made its way into the Chinese language, a symbol of just how much of a latecomer China was to modern science.

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