Sleepwalking Through Chinese History

The dissident has returned to Democracy Wall. Nearly a quarter-century has passed since he courted danger in this highly politicized part of Beijing by pasting posters demanding elections—and much has changed. Where the wall then stood, the new "Culture Plaza" is now strung with Christmas-style lights and emblazoned with a dozen glowing signboards. One instructs Chinese citizens to "Warmly Congratulate the Communist Party's 16th Congress." Another displays a news item about President Jiang Zemin seeking "advice" from Chinese who don't belong to the Party. Asked what he thinks of the story, a bystander replies indifferently, "These are decisions made at the...

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