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Wang Dan's room looks as if he might be back any moment. A blue guitar is propped in a corner. Floor-to-ceiling shelves are neatly filled with books and knickknacks - a troll doll, a toy car, a model of a Chinese rocket.

But the lanky, bespectacled dissident hasn't lived at his childhood home since 1995, when he was detained without charge.His Oct. 30 trial on subversion charges - and sentencing to 11 years in prison - marked what seems to be the end of China's democracy movement, at least for now.

A government determined not to go the way of its fellow communists in the former Soviet bloc seems bent on stamping out every flicker of political dissent. Those like Wang who boldly called for change have been silenced. Even family members, like Wang Ling-yun, Wang's mother, are watched.

"From what one can see from the outside, all the active democrats have been silenced in one way for another," says Andrew Nathan, a political science professor at Columbia University. "This doesn't mean the potential for dissent doesn't exist, but the expression has been stifled by repression."

Wang's mother, a retired museum researcher with short, gray-streaked hair, speaks quietly and with deep sighs about her hopes and fears for her 27-year-old son.

The family worries his throat problems will not be cured. Wang will be 38 when he leaves prison, and his parents wonder if they will live to see their only son go free.

Mrs. Wang, 60, helped a lawyer defend her son in court in October. In less than four hours, he was convicted of plotting to subvert the government.

In 1989, Wang Dan was one of the student leaders of the demonstrations that drew 1 million people to Tiananmen Square. The protests ended with a military assault in which hundreds, if not thousands, were killed. Students, workers and a few older intellectuals who tried to advise them were sent to prison.

Most of the rank-and-file demonstrators and onlookers resumed their ordinary lives. The vast sweep of Tiananmen Square again became a place for tourists to pose for photos and locals to fly kites.

A few, like Wang, persisted. Released after 31/2 years in prison, he wrote articles calling for political change that were published in Hong Kong. He also helped organize a petition calling on China's government to tolerate dissent and move toward the rule of law.

Now, most of those who continued to speak out are in exile or in prison or labor camps.

Dissent in China has blossomed in brief spells since Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1978 and unleashed reforms aimed at creating a free-market economy under Communist Party control.

Each period has ended in arrests. But the government is projecting a "sense of absoluteness and total implacability" not seen before, says Robin Munro of Human Rights Watch-Asia.

There still remains an invisible nationwide network of democracy campaigners and supporters.

Part of this network apparently helped longtime democracy activist Wang Xizhe escape to the United States through Hong Kong in October.

Wang Xizhe's activism dates from a poster he co-wrote in 1974 calling for democracy and rule of law. This fall he teamed up with Liu Xiaobo, a literary critic and social commentator who was active in the 1989 demonstrations, to write a bold, open letter to the government.

They criticized the government's policies on Japan, Tibet and Taiwan and called for the impeachment of President Jiang Zemin because he declared the Communist Party has "absolute leadership" over the military.

Although the letter reached foreign reporters, few Chinese heard of it because not a word appeared in the wholly state-controlled media.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press at the time, Liu said he had a right to speak up and wasn't afraid. He had already served nearly two years in prison after the 1989 demonstrations, and within days of releasing the letter, he was sentenced without trial to three years in a labor camp.