Any euphoria over Wei Jingsheng's freedom was muted by the grim reality he left behind. For fellow dissidents remaining in China, life is worse than ever. Virtually all are either imprisoned and tortured or hounded daily by authorities who keep them largely separated from society. What's more, foreign governments that claim to pressure China on the dissidents' behalf now seem more concerned with trading rights than human rights.

China admitted that in 1994, more than 2,600 people were doing time for "counterrevolutionary crimes," according to the U.S. State Department--many for nonviolent protests. A teacher who tossed eggs at a portrait of...

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