An intensifying crackdown on domestic dissent is dashing hopes that China’s economic opening will produce greater democracy anytime soon.
Chinese authorities in recent weeks have arrested prominent intellectuals and foreign journalists. They have tightened restrictions on Web sites and praised the killing of anti-government protesters in nearby Uzbekistan, which Human Rights Watch labeled a “massacre.” And they’ve rounded up the leaders of unapproved religious observances.
The current domestic chill is a far cry from what was expected when Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao took command in November 2002. Long groomed for leadership, Hu, 62, was seen as representing a new generation of Chinese rulers. His rise ” more than a decade after the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square ” revived hopes of gradual political reform.