While testing a kite, Tess briefs Monica and Andrew on their next assignment: it can change many lives because the “courage of one single person” can change history. That chance may come for Edward Tanner, CEO of Tanner Toys, and he may not recognize it. It will come for one of Edward’s employees, Jean Chang, a second time — she will recognize it and “that’s why she may say ‘no.'”
Tess demonstrates her new “portable kite” that can fly without wind to Alex Stella, Edward’s longtime friend and legal counsel for Tanner Toys. He is intrigued by the technology, but quickly brushes her off as Edward enters to discuss moving their manufacturing to China. Alex introduces Monica as a consultant who will acquaint them with the import-export business. Monica explains the new opportunities that China’s open-door policy has given to Western businesses and recommends that Edward hire a translator from within the company. When the job is offered to Jean, she is offended, claiming she is Korean and they just assumed she was Chinese because she looked “oriental.” Her cover is quickly blown, however, when she arrives at a Chinese restaurant where Edward, Alex and Monica are eating lunch and proceeds to order in Chinese.
When she comes to their table to apologize, Alex is unexpectedly pulled away from the conversation by an exuberant Tess, the “kite inventor.” With Alex distracted, Jean explains to Monica and Edward why she lied. Admitting to be Chinese, Jean tells them of how she was orphaned during the Cultural Revolution and how she fell in love with a picture of the Statue of Liberty in a banned book. Edward finds himself becoming genuinely interested in her — an interest that will eventually turn to love — as she explains how she and many like her were affected by Western culture. While an idealistic student in China, her husband adopted the nickname “Gus” after Auguste Rodin’s “Thinker” and their best friend adopted his name, “George,” after Washington. Jean explains how she and her husband took part in the Tiananmen Square protests while George stayed home with her daughter, Piao Yue (Liberty Moon). When the crack-down came, she was separated from her husband and although she heard that he was killed, she was unable to verify his death and was forced to flee to America before she could find George and her daughter.
As Monica and Edward investigate China further, they are shocked to find one of the companies courting a joint venture with Tanner Toys is none other than Liberty Moon International Management. Edward shows Jean the letter and agrees to take her with them to Beijing. In China, Monica distracts the customs agents, allowing Jean to sneak safely back into the country. They soon meet George, who is frightened to see Jean. George tells them he will no longer guarantee that his company, Liberty Moon, can do business with them. However, after Tess plants some seeds of courage in George, he helps Alex, Edward and Jean to infiltrate a “re-education through labor” camp under the guise that they will use the factory being constructed to manufacture Tanner Toys. Jean recognizes a sickly worker at the labor camp as her husband, Gus. After a bittersweet reunion, Jean and the others quickly leave the camp when a guard becomes suspicious of their presence. Alex is angered to learn of the risks Edward has taken with the business and attempts to fire Monica — but is overruled by Edward. They later read in a newspaper of Gus’ death in prison and his “renouncement” of his actions in Tiananmen Square. As Jean resolves to speak out against the lies, soldiers move into their hotel, spot Jean and give chase.
Later, Edward and Monica meet Jean in a busy street and offer to help her. As they walk away together, a soldier hands them a leaflet depicting a wanted criminal — it’s a photo of Jean from her Tiananmen Square days. They go to meet George and ask about Jean’s daughter, Piao Yue. Ashamed, he tells them that he took Piao Yue to a family in the south who would look after her until his return. He further explains that there was a terrible flood and that he no longer knows what happened to Piao Yue. He explains that he named his company “Liberty Moon” with the hope that they would one day be united. Believing she has nothing left to lose, Jean goes back to Tiananmen Square to openly tell the people who she is and the truth about what happened to her husband. As the police arrest her, she looks up at the sky and notices a kite with the Liberty Moon symbol on it. She follows the string down to a group of young girls, but cannot make contact with her daughter before she is taken away.
Edward, desperate to help Jean, goes to George who explains the judicial process to him: Jean will be convicted and sentenced quickly, and some “accidental” death in prison will soon follow. Seeing that there is nothing left for them in China, Alex leaves for home and apologizes to Edward for his behavior. Monica reveals herself as an angel to Jean and physically shields Jean when she is attacked by fellow prisoners — taking the painful blows herself. The prisoners are frightened by the miracle, Jean is unharmed after the beating; but the guards are furious and they take Jean to the top of a staircase and throw her down where she dies in Monica’s arms. Monica promises Jean that she will tell Piao Yue the truth about her mother.
Monica reveals herself to Edward and tells him of Jean’s death. He goes to George and together they use Tess’s “portable kite” with a Liberty Moon symbol painted on it to find Piao Yue. George then uses his influence to adopt Piao Yue and Edward promises that she can live with him in Maine every summer. As Edward’s plane flies over New York, he looks out the window to see the Statue of Liberty. He breaks down and cries.