The New Great Wall Of China

After years of relative openness, Beijing is pulling back on reform. Frustrated foreign companies say the field has tilted against them

After unifying China in the 3rd century B.C., the first Emperor of the Qin dynasty turned his fearsome gaze to one of the Middle Kingdom's perennial problems: marauding nomads from the Central Asian steppes. The Qin began construction of a protective fortification stretching along the empire's northern frontier to keep its riches safe from the barbarians. The massive undertaking became known as the Great Wall of China, an iconic symbol of the country's technical prowess, monumental resources and, most of all, its attitude toward the outside world.

The Great Wall is now a fraying ribbon of decaying ruins, but the spirit...

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