George Wehrfritz

Is That A Dove?

THE LAST COLD-WAR BORDER warmed up just a little last week. At the village of Panmunjom, where North and South Korean guards still glare at each other with guns at the ready, a Red Cross courier stepped into the South carrying a five-page letter from Pyongyang.

Launching Paper Missiles

NORTH KOREA'S RECENT PROPAGANDA posters are a study in belligerence. One shows three towering missiles targeting Washington, Seoul and Tokyo. Another--the latest--depicts a hefty ballistic missile soaring high above Japan on its way to America. ""There is no limit to the offensive power of the Korean People's Army!'' declares a strand of text scrawled across the Pacific Ocean.

What Now For Wei?

HE SITS IN THE FIRST-CLASS cabin aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 88 from Beijing, pasty and exhausted after more than 18 years inside China's gulag. But dissident Wei Jingsheng isn't a broken man.

Will China Be Next?

HE'S THE BANKERS' new hero. As the markets of East Asia tumble out of anybody's control, global moneymen have found a new beacon of confidence: Zhu Rongji, China's economic czar.

He's Free At Last

UNTIL RECENTLY, WEI Jingsheng's biggest fear was dying in jail. He won't. Last week Chinese authorities abruptly whisked him from a prison camp 75 miles east of Beijing, granted him a quickie medical parole and escorted him into exile.

Chinese Power Grab

QIAO SHI KNEW HE'D BEEN PURGED even before the votes were counted. Last week, standing on a dais in the Great Hall of the People, the 72- year-old parliamentary chairman slipped his ballot into a red box emblazoned with a golden hammer and sickle.

Rethinking The Korean War

NORTH KOREAN STRONGMAN Kim Il Sung arrived in Beijing on May 13, 1950, on a top-secret mission he hoped would lead to war. He had just come from Moscow, where Joseph Stalin supported his plan to ""liberate'' South Korea in a lightning invasion.

The Uses Of The Past

EACH SPRING, ARCHE-ologist Zheng Guang selects a wheat field near Erlitou and digs toward the origin of Chinese civilization. Since the 1960s he has unearthed an imposing imperial palace, extravagant tombs laden with pottery and ornamental jade, clay irrigation pipes and the oldest ritual bronze vessels yet discovered in China, all just meters below this farming village in central Henan province.

Now, 'Mad Pig' Disease

CHANG AH-CHIAN REALIZED HIS PIGS were sick when blood began to ooze from their snouts and hoofs. Within a day, 100 of his animals had died. "Those that survived were weak," says the Taiwanese farmer.

Rethinking Tiananmen

PRESIDENT JIANG ZEMIN STOOD beneath the massive funeral portrait of Deng Xiaoping and began to challenge his mentor's legacy. Speaking for the first time as China's paramount leader last week, Jiang hailed Deng's "immortal feats" as a young communist guerrilla and later as the "chief architect" of sweeping economic reform.

Out Of The Shadows

JIANG ZEMIN IS easy to take lightly. When the owlish engineer from Shanghai found himself promoted to No. 2 behind Deng Xiaoping in 1989, Beijing cynics wrote him off as Comrade Caretaker.

Prepare To Ram

WASHINGTON SECRETLY offered China a nuclear deal last month: the Pentagon would not target U.S. missiles at China if Beijing returned the favor. To Bill Clinton's strategists, it looked like a win-win proposition; such a deal would shackle an American arsenal far larger than China's (at least for the few hours it would take to retarget the warheads).

Blood And Money

THEY COME FOR THE MONEY. AND for the $12 ""nourishment fee'' Chinese blood donors typically get for filling up the equivalent of a pint bag can make a big difference.

Banned In Beijing

AUTHOR WANG SHUO FINDS HIS stories in the dark corners of the new China. His 20 novels--profane and often violent pulp fiction populated by drifters, thugs and hookers-have been best sellers.

Joining The Party

ON SUNDAY nights when the weather is just right, listeners all across China tune their radios to "Midnight Whispers." The sexual-advice call-in show, broadcast from Shanghai, gets fan letters from as far away as Inner Mongolia, 900 miles to the north.

Whose Ideas Will Win When Deng Is Gone?

CHINA'S AILING "PARAMOUNT leader" is still with us, but critics are already shoveling dirt on his official legacy as the "great architect of reform." Sure, they say, Deng Xiaoping's "socialist market" brought rising prosperity, but it also unleashed crime, corruption and tension between rich and poor.

A New Emperor Ascendant?

In China, dynastic succession often goes down about as easily as undercooked pork. Mao Zedong's heir apparent Hua Guofeng, a colorless if loyal security chief, lasted all of two years.

Nightmare Cities

IF CHINA'S BIG CITIES SEEM OVERCROWDED NOW, just wait until the end of the century. There will then be as many as 20 million people living in greater Shanghai.