The cost of China's information vacuum

Reduced access for foreign experts is making it even harder for governments to understand decision-making in Beijing.

Then US President Richard Nixon (centre) and Secretary of State William Rogers (right) at the Great Wall of China in February 1972. PHOTO: AFP
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In the summer of 1963, Jan Berris was sitting in an office half an hour outside Washington and converting a series of codes into English text. A student of Chinese at the University of Michigan, she was on a summer internship at the National Security Agency (NSA).

In theory, Ms Berris' task was translating and analysing telegrams from China. But instead of the original Chinese message, all she got to see was a four-digit code for each word.

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