Early Exits

Bill Clinton made no secret before his election that he planned to look closely at China's human-rights record in adjusting U.S. policy. They were apparently listening in Beijing. The most prominent political prisoner to go free recently, Wang Xizhe, 45, was released on short notice, two years ahead of schedule. He incurred Beijing's ire -- and a conviction on subversion charges -- by leading the brief 1981 "Democracy Wall" experiment in free expression. Also granted early release was Gao Shan, 36, jailed for participating in the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement in 1989.

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