Watching From Offshore

In a different kind of week, the three U.S. warships that sailed up the Huangpu River last Friday and docked in the waters off Shanghai would have been the talk of the town. After all, this was only the second time since 1949 that the U.S. Navy had visited China. But the city's attention was riveted on the Bund, the broad avenue along the river where 100,000 protesters marched. Thus the ships neatly symbolized the peripheral role that Washington played throughout last week. With the explosion of people power, the State Department could do little but advise Beijing to use caution,...

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