This may hardly be the ideal moment for general reflections on the significance of the present tragic turn in Chinese affairs. The brutal repression in Tiananmen Square was a decisive event, but the shape of things to come is still not entirely clear even though the signs are increasingly ominous. Before I deal with the recent events, I want to say something about the episodic nature of the history of mainland China during the last forty years and its significance for the entire enterprise of what has come to be called “China watching.” Without claiming any particular wisdom for the highly diverse group of academics and journalists who engage in this enterprise (their ability to predict specific events is certainly not greate...
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