Americans may have been surprised to read in news stories this week about the role of a Christian organization in the escape from house arrest of Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights lawyer in China.
The Dalai Lama is fast running out of time. The leader of Tibet has repeatedly said that he will return to Lhasa again to walk the streets he knew as a boy. But every year that passes, there is less and less chance that it will.
Many international observers fail to appreciate that religion in China has never been treated as a matter of personal choice. It's hard to imagine that the current regime would suddenly start to view things differently.
Chinese society is racing forward, but the traditional pillars of individual identity -- the family and the nation -- remain robust. It remains a society of "belongers." Outsiders are, now and forever, outcasts.