As Stalin asked sarcastically when it was suggested that the Pope join the Yalta talks: “How many divisions does he command?” Wei had been one of the most celebrated opponents of the Communist regime in Beijing, but freedom and exile may propel him into the political wilderness.
“A lot of the drama that he brings to the story as a prisoner of conscience is gone now that he’s out,” says TIME correspondent Jay Branegan. The U.S. establishment wants to expand its relationship with China, he adds — “and although there’s an opposition in exile, it’s not well organized.”
Wei used village wisdom to urge Americans to take a tougher stand on Beijing — “If you look aside when gangsters abuse your neighbors, then you will never be safe," he opines. "Only when all people band together against such gangsters will all be safe.” But he was quickly eclipsed by those Iowa infants — who, in the battle for ratings, command many more divisions than Wei.