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Has China Got What It Takes?

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In the midst of a U.S. war on terrorism, China has risen to global prominence, poised to become the superpower of the 21st century. The global giant is fueled by economic success, but wealth is just one piece of the puzzle, readers suggest, as the new power must tackle a world of troubles

As China emerges as an international power [Jan. 22], the West must be wary of a brain drain. In order to be a manufacturing giant, the Chinese must get all the know-how as well. As capitalist businesses become increasingly focused on earning quarterly profits through low-cost production, they lose sight of the greater long-term value of their intellectual resources and will lose their markets in the end. The Chinese have a reputation for endurance.
Alan Benson

China faces many serious drawbacks. Its economy depends on trade with the U.S., even though the U.S. has an unmanageable trade deficit with China. Although China had been a superpower, that was 4,000 years ago. China the new superpower? That is wishful thinking. It is only the beginning of the 21st century, and many challenges lie ahead.
William F. VanGelder
Santa Maria, California, U.S.

Simply comparing the GDP of china with that of the U.S. does not give a complete picture of the two economies. The cost of living is much lower in China.
Venkataraman V. Subramanian
Trichy, India

Napoleon said, “Let China sleep. the day she awakes all the world will be sorry.” Nearly 200 years later, the world is divided: some are indeed sorry to witness China’s re-emergence, but others are quite happy.
Theodore Mathias

No matter how many times I read predictions of China’s bright future, I still worry about my country. As an overseas student whose parents are both laid-off workers because of China’s economic reforms, I am not so optimistic. I believe that many people — Chinese people and foreigners — are so shocked by China’s extraordinary rise that in some ways they ignore what hides behind the prosperity: the expanding income gap between rich and poor, a worsening environment caused by immoderate industrialization and corruption in the government. There are many acute problems to be solved in modern China. The country is developing fast, but it has a long way to go.
Di Wu

Operation Reboot
Re “The battle for control of the war” [Jan. 29]: How sad that President George W. Bush’s strategy in Iraq is so clearly political rather than military. The surge in troops presents the appearance of action while gambling American and Iraqi lives on the outcome. If stability in Iraq is restored, even short-term, Bush can denounce his naysayers. If the surge fails to effect a long-term change, the conflict will probably last until Bush leaves office — and then he can blame failure on his successor. Bush is a canny politician but no leader. Our troops deserve far better.
Eric Scott
Bloomington, California, U.S.

There is no functioning national government in Iraq. A referendum should be held for Iraqis to vote on whether they want U.S. troops to leave. The people should decide whether they want a civil war in which they martyr one another 24/7, including on Muslim holy days and at Muslim holy sites, or whether they want to build a better tomorrow in this world. If they want us to leave, they don’t need to kill anyone. They could just vote!
Peter Feinman
Port Chester, New York, U.S.

Bush’s latest plan for Iraq is not a strategy but an experiment destined to cost more American and Iraqi lives. The American people elected a stubborn boy to do a man’s job and found him wanting. In fact, the whole world finds him wanting. He squandered all the goodwill that flowed toward the U.S. after 9/11 and made a monumental mess of the Middle East, turned the U.S. into the biggest debtor nation in the world, divided the country, flunked on all the important domestic problems and is losing South America.
R. Walter Weller
Strathroy, Canada

Throughout the discussions of a possible U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, I have seen hardly any consideration of how it might affect the U.S.’s major ally in the region: Israel. The past three years have made it clearer than ever that Israel is a bastion of freedom in the area, in good part because of the much appreciated support from the U.S. But it would be irresponsible for the U.S. to plan its withdrawal from Iraq without weighing the effect on a genuine friend whose very existence is contested daily.
Shahar Segev
Holon, Israel

If increasing U.S. troops in Iraq is such a good idea, why didn’t Bush spring it before the elections? More time in Iraq will result in more U.S. soldiers dead, billions more dollars down that rat hole and more Sunni-Shi’ite strife.
Robert O. Hoskins
Castiglioncello, Italy

With reference to the “stay the course” rhetoric: When attacked for having changed his opinion on a matter, Winston Churchill elegantly replied, “My views are in a harmonious process, which keeps them in relation to the current movement of events.” Only fools stick to their ideas after they have been proved wrong. The world awaits evidence that Bush is no fool.
Lennart Lordin
Karlskrona, Sweden

A Stale Doughnut Myth
“Wall-to-wall Kennedy” [Jan. 22] acknowledged that giggles over John F. Kennedy’s “supposed gaffe” “Ich bin ein Berliner!” may not be warranted. Only in western Germany is a jelly doughnut called a Berliner. Here in Berlin a jelly doughnut is a Pfannkuchen. So the ignorant West German journalists misunderstood, as did their American colleagues based in West Germany. The Berliners knew perfectly well Kennedy didn’t say, “I am a Pfannkuchen!” but, as he also said, “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin.” And they loved him for it.
Chris McLarren

Another Apple Revolution?
I don’t think Steve Jobs designed the iPhone [Jan. 22]. I think he snapped his fingers and told his engineers to do it. And the iPhone sure isn’t revolutionary. It is not an innovation in technology, just in packaging. How can a company make more money? Combine more things into one product and charge more. And accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. If I bought all the stuff that Apple makes for the iPod, I would be broke. I guess Jobs is a genius — a marketing genius.
Jeff Simon
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.

I disagree with Lev Grossman’s hesitation to call the iPhone revolutionary because “it won’t create a new market or change the entertainment industry the way the iPod did.” The iPod wasn’t the first portable MP3 player, and iTunes wasn’t the first MP3 computer jukebox program. They were simply the best. I didn’t buy an MP3 player until the iPod, and I didn’t use an MP3 jukebox before iTunes. Guess what? I don’t own a cell phone, but, as soon as I can almost afford an iPhone, I’ll buy one. It isn’t just a cell phone. Revolutionary? Check. Marketmaker? Double check. Will it change the communications industry? I think it already has.
Gino Carter

Saving an Angel
I was appalled to learn from “Pillow angel ethics” [Jan. 22] that the parents of Ashley, a severely brain-damaged 9-year-old girl, mutilated her so that she would be less trouble to care for. Removing her uterus and stunting her growth, without knowing what potential she might have had through future medical breakthroughs, was merely self-interest disguised as love and devotion. Ashley should be placed under protective services to prevent any more atrocious mistreatment.
Don Moss, Executive Director
United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois
Springfield, Illinois, U.S.

My sister had the mentality of a 9-month-old, although her body continued to mature. When the decision was made to place her in a facility, it was only because she was almost as tall as my mother and we were no longer able to lift her and provide her with the care she needed. If the options available to Ashley’s parents had been available to us in the early 1980s, we would have done the same thing. She might still be alive today had we been able to care for her at home. Please do not condemn Ashley’s parents until you have walked in their shoes.
Kim Childress
Evington, Virginia, U.S.

As a bioethicist, I have a question about the justification of infanticide by Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on the grounds that “a very disabled child can mean a disabled family.” Why apply this consideration only to disabled infants? Cheating husbands, alcoholic wives and nagging mothers-in-law are just a few of the many sorts of people who can mean a very disabled family. Why not kill them too?
Felicia Nimue Ackerman
Professor of Philosophy
Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.

Ashley is not an object, something to touch, snuggle, hug and feed. She shouldn’t be reduced to a “pillow angel,” a sort of living puppet to cuddle. Her parents, with the complicity of an ethics committee, violated not only Ashley’s body but also her soul. Do the disabled have to undergo such procedures for their lives to be considered worth preserving? Everyone needs to be respected and loved for who they are. Ashley’s case is a sign of the beginning of the end of a civilization.
Pietro Dri
Porpetto, Italy

My son is mildly autistic and has had to cope with several medical issues since his birth. In order to spend most of my free time with him, I have neglected my hobbies, curtailed my social life and moved to a country with better resources for his disability. I don’t consider myself some kind of hero or a candidate for sainthood. I simply do my duty and my obligation. It’s not much of a surprise for me to read about parents who ask doctors to cripple and maim their child for the sole purpose of somewhat lightening the “burden” that this unfortunate little girl represents to them. What really disturbed me is the acquiescence shown by those “doctors” who consented to commit what in my eyes is a horrific and heinous crime — of course, not before enlisting an “ethics” specialist who gave them the go-ahead.
Arturo Camillacci
Osaka, Japan

Since my sister has Down syndrome, I have the privilege of being surrounded by people with developmental disabilities. I strongly oppose the idea of adapting a child to the environment by using radical (what I would call Peter Pan) measures. I think that Ashley’s parents are emotionally unprepared and haven’t realized that it is they who ought to “reshape” and adjust to the needs of their child since they have the physical and mental ability to do so.
Rosica Koleva
Skopje, Macedonia

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