Our Newstour to China

A visit reveals the promise--and problems--of sweeping change

As the leather-faced old man intently folded his pink ballot and slotted it into the box, I felt a slight lump in my throat. I'm a sucker for the rituals and realities of democracy, and here we were in the remote Chinese village of Liujiachang watching a thousand citizens in a schoolyard listen to campaign speeches and then vote for mayor. The incumbent, a slick young man elected three years ago, promised to lower taxes and improve irrigation. The challenger, older and more earthy, promised to open the village books for inspection and eloquently described how his own success as a...

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