China: Quiet Retreat

End to a zealous campaign

First the authorities described it as "moral pollution." Then it was "spiritual pollution." Finally, "cultural contamination." From the moment Communist Party officials began a program last October opposing alleged "bourgeois" influences, they had trouble defining the threat. Worse, the program met with hostility from much of the Chinese public.

Now, barely three months after the effort was announced, the government has quietly sounded a retreat. So many restrictions have been imposed on the campaign that it seems certain to fade away.

The Chinese are accustomed to periodic drives to curb foreign influences. The latest effort was aimed...

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