China Rising: Power to the People

All over China, peasants are speaking out on grass-roots concerns-- and building a new civil society

They gathered by a grave tucked into fields of yellow rape flowers high in the Himalayan foothills. There, a dozen-odd guardians of China's last free-flowing rivers unveiled a memorial to a fallen comrade, an activist who had died of a heart attack in January. But their mission had another motive. Following the ceremony, they traveled into remote regions of Yunnan province to gauge opposition to a spate of new dam projects and offer assistance to vulnerable peasants trying to stop them from being built. This wasn't a secret trip. Plainclothes police videotaped everything. Undeterred, the outsiders met with peasants in the...

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