One Scoop Too Many

Last April, China's Southern Metropolis Daily printed a story about Sun Zhigang, a migrant worker in Guangzhou beaten to death in official custody after being detained by police for not carrying ID. The story touched off a wave of public outrage that reached Beijing: in June, Premier Wen Jiabao led a Cabinet vote that proscribed the detention of migrants simply for straying far from their hometowns. The next morning, the paper editorialized: "This is a milestone in the history of citizens' rights that we should cherish forever."

The rights of citizens might have been buttressed by the...

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