The Year of Living Dangerously

Illustration by the Heads of State for TIME

Years of the dragon are dangerous. According to the lore of the Chinese zodiac, the mythical beast ushers in a 12-month period of power and prestige. Yet the dragon is also an unpredictable animal, a sinuous creature whose tail and head coil off in different directions.

Sure enough, 2012 is shaping up as an utterly unpredictable year in China. When the Lunar New Year began on Jan. 23, the hope was for orderliness and technocratic diligence to carry the months ahead. China undergoes a once-a-decade leadership transition later this year, and the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!