Today's Story Line:

If ideas have power, then writer Kevin Platt captured a power struggle on the streets of Beijing. He found hawkers selling banned material - from critiques of the government to President Clinton's grand jury testimony. One hawker, a former Red Guard, told a tale of her life that mirrors China's recent history.

The post-communist breakup of Yugoslavia confronted us with some of the worst atrocities of the 1990s. Writer Justin Brown alerts us to a potential upheaval in the Serb province of Vojvodina.

The US, and now France, have tried to end the intra-Africa war in mineral-rich Congo. Lara Santoro analyzes the results of the latest peacemaking.

- Clayton Jones

World Editor


* Serbian province of Vojvodina (page 1): VOY'-voh-dee-nah


* how to buy a book in china: As intimidating as authority figures in a Communist country might be, dealing with the police is sometimes a big game in which both sides know their roles. One evening, a group of Beijing street hawkers scooped up their wares and scattered as a policeman approached, knowing they could be arrested or have their goods confiscated. Our Beijing bureau chief, Kevin Platt, chatted up the officer for so long that the man finally asked why he was asking so many questions. "To tell you the truth," Kevin said, "I want to buy some books and the peddlers won't come back until you leave." After calling in another cop with a walkie-talkie, the officers sized up our Mandarin-speaking American and then left the scene.

* Americans in unlikely places: In reporting today's story on the Serb province of Vojvodina, Justin Brown ran into an an American he had met a year ago. Back then, he had called a friend in the Vojvodinian city of Novi Sad. But an unfamiliar voice answered, so he spoke in Serbian. When it became clear neither was fluent, Justin asked if he spoke English. The man replied, "Do I speak English? I'm from America!" The man is married to a Serb. It's unusual to find any foreigners settling down in Serbia, let alone an American.


* In Japan, a society known for quiet reserve, friendly body language wins fans. President Clinton and China's President Jiang Zemin, both in Japan recently, left very different impressions. While Mr. Clinton was praised for his "town hall" chat, the South China Morning Post says Mr. Jiang rarely smiled and almost forgot to shake the hand of Japan's prime minister.

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