The following statement was made by a private taxi driver as I was on my way into the city from the Beijing Capital Airport shortly before the 1991 Chinese New Year's Spring Festival. It raises many of the issues addressed in this article:

I try to stay clear of politics. On New Year's Eve, I'm not going to light fireworks like everyone else, and that's how I'll show that I don't support the government. If I don't set off fireworks, all my neighbors will know that I don't give a damn about this country. I'm just going to sit at home and watch the special New Year's program on TV. They'll have a lot of acrobats, singers, comedians, and minority dances.

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