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In 1984, architect Scott Warren comes to China on a scholarship to study Daoist buildings, just at the time when the liberalisation policies of Deng Xiaoping are unfolding and Chinese people are experiencing new freedoms. Twenty-three years later he returns, to honour his dead wife's request to take her ashes back to China. He encounters a country that has been propelled into international commerce, culture and politics that has Western-style prosperity yet continued human rights restrictions and one-party rule. In this complexity, Scott confronts painful memories and revisits the past, which merges dangerously with the present.