What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images. . . .
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
In 1975, during a six-month stay in Hong Kong (a city I know somewhat since I have lived there for five years) I had the opportunity to talk informally and at length with various Chinese who recently left the People’s Republic—some with valid exit visas, but a larger number having risked their lives to escape.
I am neither a China watcher nor a professional interviewer, and I did not solicit these meetings; they came about through the initia...
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