Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

China is closing in on itself

By Howard W. French

30 Aug 2023 · 6 min read

informed Summary

  1. FP columnist Howard W. French, who lived in China in the early 2000s, revisited the country in 2023 and was struck by the lack of foreigners, despite its recent reopening after Covid-19 quarantine measures.

One weekend in late July, I hired a car and driver to take me from Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, to Leshan, a town two hours to the south.

There, on the steep bank of a river, stands one of the world’s most extraordinary religious statues: a 71-meter-high likeness of the seated Buddha, his enormous body and gently smiling countenance carved in stone out of the face of a mountain more than 12 centuries ago.

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