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Consider China's perspective on human rights

Re: How we view China.

It is certainly true that compared to the United States, China emphasizes the welfare of the majority over the rights of individuals. Is that wrong? Arguments can be made for and against this Chinese approach to human rights, but perhaps Chinese President Jiang Zemin is right that there are few absolutes when dealing with this sort of question.

Some Americans debate whether our system places too much emphasis on individual rights, to the detriment of the common good. To look at things from a different perspective, ask yourself: Would you rather live under a political system that was dedicated to advancing the interests of the vast majority of its citizens, or under one that openly catered to the interests of the best organized, best financed and most outspoken groups in the society.

Many Chinese believe their record in human rights compares favorably to the record of the United States. It is not an issue they fear.

Imagine for a minute the possibility that within the lifetime of your grandchildren, China may become the economic superpower which demands that the United States bring its prison population and violent crime rates down to levels more comparable to the norms of other countries. This gives a new perspective on how we view China.

I'm sure neither country has all the truth on its side, but it behooves us to try to understand a country that has 22 percent of the world's population . . . for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

Catherine Neely, Palm Harbor

Don't cater to tyrants

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." _ George Santayana, Life of Reason.

It is common knowledge that President Clinton has forgotten _ chooses to forget _ what, if anything, he knew in the past of integrity and moral certitude. But forgetting history? That did not seem to be one of his many flaws. However, historical amnesia is the only benign thing which could explain his hospitality to Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

In a year which has seen the Roman Catholic Church, Switzerland and France apologize to Adolf Hitler's victims for lacking the moral courage to defy the atrocities of his heinous regime some 70 years ago, William Jefferson Clinton welcomes to this country the baby-killing, despotic, butcher of Bejing and allows him to lecture us on the proper provenance of human rights!

Truly, the picture of that tyrant cavorting about in the tricornered hat of our founding fathers made me physically ill.

Where is the outrage? In the past couple of days I have tried looking into the faces of my fellow citizens, hoping to find some sign that they are incensed, going about their daily activities in a barely controlled rage over this despicable display of financial greed trumping ethical and humane behavior. Sadly, most everyone seems unaware even as Bubba postures for the media and Boeing sells 50 planes.

What part of the world's history with regard to homicidal dictators are we willing to repeat?

Nancy Heston, Brandon

Wondering about Jiang's welcome

Re: China's chief goes colonial, Oct. 29.

Had Patrick Henry been at Williamsburg when China's President Jiang Zemin made his recent appearance there, we wonder whether Henry would have: rolled out the red (no pun intended) carpet; handed Jiang a three-cornered hat; had an artisan sketch Jiang's portrait with hat donned; and then had the portrait rushed off to Philadelphia for publication on the front page of the Pennsylvania Gazette. Somehow, to us, it seems highly doubtful.

There is no doubt, however, that for years Jiang and his government have taken to heart Henry's famous words, "give me liberty or give me death." Unfortunately for many Chinese citizens, it is Henry's alternative to "liberty" which Jiang and his comrades seem to favor.

We also would be curious about Abraham Lincoln's reaction to this event had he been in the White House at the time. Perhaps, though, that being the case, this event would not even have come about. After all, it was Lincoln _ whose fight against the repression of human rights led to his death _ who said, "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

A. E. Roberts, St. Petersburg

Trade with China is out of balance

Re: Our business with China, editorial, Oct. 30.

I agree that we should not single-mindedly emphasize economic interests while ignoring human rights concerns. Furthermore, if we do open our markets, we should not tolerate large trade deficits. Currently, we buy about three times as much from China as China buys from us. This is not good business; it causes our factories to close.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., revealed that when China allows a U.S. product to be imported, China insists on a technology transfer. Can't U.S. exporters see that with technology transfers, their days in China are numbered? Before long, China will be using Boeing technology to make airplanes for its own use and to export. Boeing will lose.

Besides the loss of good jobs, if our factories continue to close, we will cease to be an industrial power. When will our leaders realize that for manufactured goods, it is better to have no trade at all than to have a large trade deficit?

Jack Gregg, Largo

Just a paper tiger

Who won the Persian Gulf war? I thought that we won that war but it seems that Saddam Hussein has won by default. "De-fault" lies in the hands of the politicians who did not let Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf go into Baghdad and depose the maniac who used chemical and probably biological weapons on our troops. Now we can't even inspect the weapons buildup that is still going on.

It is no wonder that the United States, once regarded as a nation to be reckoned with, is now considered to be just a paper tiger with no teeth. Look at Iraq, Iran, Haiti, North Korea and others to see how we are regarded.

What a shame to "win" the war and lose the peace.

Joseph K. King, Hudson

Cyprus can be reunited

Re: No quick fixes in Cyprus, by Jack R. Payton, Oct. 9.

Reading Jack Payton's column, one gets the impression he is one of the few in Washington who understands exactly what has happened in Cyprus since 1974. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 under the pretext of protecting Turkish Cypriots. It is noteworthy that some 40,000 of those "protected" Turkish Cypriots emigrated en masse and were replaced by settlers from Turkey who were promised comfort and wealth in Cyprus by the Turkish government.

What every Cypriot knew about the close friendship between President Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash is finally disclosed to the American public. Similarly, strong friendships have existed for many years between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

In another matter, Payton's pointed analysis regarding the S-300 defensive missiles illustrates the ridiculous nature of Turkey's arguments. It is beyond comprehension, for all who have studied the Cyprus problem closely, how an island of 600,000 people can pose a threat to Turkey, a nation of 60-million.

In short, Cyprus only wants peace and to exercise the undeniable right to defend its people from suffering, again, the consequences of Turkey's military power. It is ridiculous to believe that such a small island with no air force and no navy plans to acquire a defensive missile system in order to modify it and then attack Turkey, a country that has an army of 600,000 soldiers (equaling the total population of the island of Cyprus) and with the latest military technology that NATO has to offer. After all, Turkey seems to forget that Cyprus has offered the complete demilitarization of the island but Turkey has refused to consider it.

Last, this is not a situation like the weather that cannot be fixed by talking. In the case of Cyprus, international law applies, and all the relevant U.N. resolutions calling for the unification of the island should be enforced. The United States has experience in enforcing international law, and we hope it uses that experience in Cyprus.

James Tarrou, president, executive board,

Pancyprian Association of Florida Inc., Clearwater

State of veterans' care is disgraceful

Re: VA hospital sells cakes to raise funds, Oct. 23.

How low can we get when our government allows a veterans hospital in Albany, N.Y., to have an auction and bake sale to raise money for needed medical equipment?

Granted that costs must be cut at all levels of government, but to do so at the expense of men and women who served their country is disgraceful.

It is the writer's opinion that a whole lot less foreign aid money could serve a better purpose staying in this country for much-needed causes, such as giving the best of care with the most modern medical equipment in VA hospitals.

Curtis E. Petry, Holiday

He'll take the cake

Re: VA hospital sells cakes to raise funds, Oct 23.

Nattering nabobs of negativism might well include two members of Congress and the New York director of the Division of Veterans who blasted a VA hospital for organizing a bake sale to raise funds for a new dental drill. The imaginative hospital director, Dr. Lawrence Flesh, came up with this idea in response to Washington's demand to "cut costs and look for new sources of income."

Possibly with his tongue in cheek (or even in an undrilled tooth cavity), here is a rare public servant, flying in the face of traditional leaden, unimaginative federal bureaucracy, coming up with one of the most accepted fund-raisers in America, ranked in the same holy arena with motherhood, apple pie (a la mode), and sandlot baseball!

What a joy to read that Dr. Flesh will auction off a ride in his new convertible sports car! And if he will throw in a home-baked chocolate cake with a half-inch of gooey frosting, I shall be tempted to travel to New York and enter a winning bid to benefit the purchase of their high-tech laser drill (but not the old fashioned kind with motor driven pulleys).

John Christy Clement, Tierra Verde

Is it deductible?

Let's see now _ Ted Turner gives $1-billion to the United Nations (actually, only promises to give since it's spread over 10 years), which saves him about $400-million in federal income taxes. This lost income must be made up by taxing the rest of us.

It's only about $2 each, but _ just out of curiosity _ can I take this as a charitable deduction on my federal income tax?

Ernest A. Maier, Spring Hill

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