Foreign Relations: Diagnosing the Dragon


They work around the globe, and of ten around the clock. Their raw materials are propaganda sheets and travelers' recollections, railroad timetables, the fragmentary increments of satellite-borne cameras. Their subject is infinitely elusive, yet hardly esoteric. It is Red China. Thanks to its China watchers, and the relatively new art of stethoscoping the Red Dragon, the U.S. has a clear lead over other nations in piercing the hermetic barriers that seal the Chi nese mainland from the outside world.

The State Department and the CIA are only two of six federal agencies that employ China watchers; the...

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