With the spotlight trained on the China because of the Beijing Olympics, visitors will find a country that still lacks freedom of assembly and where minorities who are repressed. But its residents also have freedoms found in very few authoritarian regimes of the past, The New York Times reported Saturday.
"Some people will tell you, look at the walls, and say they are still pretty high, while others will tell you that there is a lot of space between the walls," Nicholas Bequelin, a China specialist at Human Rights Watch, told the newspaper. "Both things are true."
China watchers say residents are no more free to challenge the state with political dissent than they were in the 1980s, and in some cases, are even less free. But, they say, China is also becoming a more diverse country, which is producing anomalies in its political life.
A more dynamic economy is demanding a more dynamic society, the newspaper said, because wealth is giving the Chinese people more social options.