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.

As China prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of its brutal repression of protests around Tiananmen Square, its leaders have presided over an unprecedented pre-anniversary crackdown. Rights groups say at least 50 people have been detained, put under house arrest or disappeared.

Hour after hour passed as Chen Guang stood, gun trembling in his hands, behind the doors of Beijing's Great Hall of the people, waiting for the order to clear Tiananmen Square of its student protesters.

It was 1989, and Chen was a 17-year-old soldier from a small town whose life was changed by his role in the bloody crackdown. His account offers a sharply different perspective of the events of June 3 and 4, 1989, when martial law troops fought their way into the center of Beijing, killing hundreds of people, mainly on approach roads into the square.

They peered at the photo blankly, leaning to take in the details.

"Is it from South Korea?" asked a student studying for a doctorate in marketing, with no flicker of recognition.

"Is it Kosovo?" a young astronomy major guessed.

The elderly woman carefully handed over the tissue-thin white paper slip. The flimsy invoice was her son's death notice. The words hurriedly scrawled on it in blue ink — "shot outside and died" — were proof to her of the crimes of the state.

Zhang Xianling's son, Wang Nan, was just 19 years old when he was killed by a single bullet to the head. It was fired by martial law troops sent to clear protesters from Tiananmen Square in the early hours of June 4, 1989.

Twenty-five years ago, on April 15, 1989, Chinese students were mourning the death of a reformist leader. But what began as mourning evolved into mass protests demanding democracy. Demonstrators remained in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, day after day, until their protests were brutally suppressed by the Chinese army — on June 4. Hundreds died; to this day, no one knows how many.

File under "one of the oddest jobs ever": professional mourner. China's funeral rituals date back 2,000 years to the Han dynasty, but were banned during the Cultural Revolution as superstition. Now these funeral rituals have become an income source to a select few who stage funeral extravaganzas, marrying ancient Chinese traditions with modern entertainment.

Ding Zilin has spent the past 24 years on one mission: seeking justice for the death of her son, 17-year-old Jiang Jielian, who was shot in the back by Chinese soldiers on the night of June 3, 1989.

This year, her mood is one of black despair.

"It's possible that before I leave this world, I won't see justice," the frail 76-year-old told me. We're sitting in the living room of her Beijing home, near a shrine to her son that includes a wooden cabinet holding his ashes.

Xie Peng, a 36-year-old Chinese graphic novelist, spent six years working on his first book, Darkness Outside the Night. It's been praised by China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan, as inspiring people on how to deal with life.

It was 5 p.m. on an ordinary Tuesday, and Li Ping was finishing up the company accounts before going to have a facial. She was working for her brother, Li Qiang, who owned one of the biggest private transport companies in Chongqing, a major city in southwestern China.

Suddenly, five plainclothes policemen barged into the room. They asked her name, then put a black hood over her head and drove her to a secret interrogation site. Her ordeal had begun.

The man ArtReview magazine named the most powerful artist in the world is trying his hand at rock stardom. In 2011, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in detention. He was later let go and charged with tax evasion.

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