Chapter 1. Introduction

The Crush

It’s a freezing January morning, and a group of 80 or so journalists file past a bored adolescent security guard into the marble lobby of a government building in the center of Beijing. Passing through the lobby, they head up a flight of stairs and show their IDs to another security guard before passing through an airport-style metal detector. They file into a conference room with rows of chairs facing a raised platform, at its center a microphone peeks out through an impressive array of flowers. They huddle in small groups, sipping coffee and talking shop. One member of the Chinese press cleans out his ear with the nail of his pinky finger, cultivated especially long for the purpose. At 9:45 a.m., the door to ...

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