China's Missing Pieces

Cowed by Asia's economic meltdown and corruption, Beijing's leaders slow their ambitious reforms

When powerful men fly too close to the sun, two things can happen: they modify their course, or they come crashing down.

China's most daring highflyer, Premier Zhu Rongji, has come very close. He likes the altitude--it energizes him--and over the past five years he has seemed to defy gravity as he pushed his country's economic reforms further and faster than anyone thought possible. To his many admirers at home and overseas, he was the enlightened mandarin who single-handedly could break through the red tape and propel China's economy into the next century. Even Asia's debilitating economic crisis didn't seem...

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