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Letters: May 21, 1984

8 minute read

China Ho!

To the Editors: As we saw during President Reagan’s trip to China [WORLD, April 30], that country’s accommodation of capitalist ideas is creating a structure as precious and fragile as a Ming vase. How can we not feel a sense of pride at seeing the basic tenets of our way of life being vindicated once again?

David N. Thor Manila, N. Y.

If the modernization of the People’s Republic of China develops successfully, it will be a repeat of the Japanese economic miracle, but magnified at least a thousand times.

Monroe Leung Beverly Hills, Calif.

The U.S. press may believe that Americans are amused by looking at pictures of smiling Oriental children, Chinese “couples in love” and adorable panda bears. But one important fact is left out: the people are kept under a rigid, totalitarian regime that talks peace, understanding and freedom, but is as militaristic, ruthless and restrictive as the government in Moscow.

Glenn P. Naidoo Freeport, N. Y.

As a former exchange student in China, I believe you captured much of the spirit of China’s rapidly changing society. However, you failed to mention the regime’s policy of religious freedom, which since 1978 has permitted China’s 7 million Christians to pack their churches every Sunday.

Steve Baughman Santa Barbara, Calif.

While there is evidence that China is beginning to adopt some precepts of capitalism, let us not forget that in the past eight months, during China’s “purification campaign,” more than 2,000 Chinese Christians have been arrested and three have been executed. Inhumanity continues to be very much the way of life in the People’s Republic of China.

(The Rev.) Jeffrey A. Collins Executive Director Christian Response International Rockville, Md.

Daily Best

In judging the ten best daily newspapers [PRESS, April 30], TIME should use only one criterion: How well does that paper serve its community? It does not matter whether the area numbers 500 or 1 million. In fact, the most responsible and probably the best journalism has been practiced in this nation’s suburbs and small towns. We have to face our readers every day. It would do wonders for the editors of the media giants, including TIME, to meet their subjects and their subscribers in the coffee shop after their publication hits the streets.

Joseph C. Linnertz, Former Publisher The McHenry County Journal-Register Velva, N. Dak.

While liberals love the Boston Globe, others think it is more like the smoking habit. You know it is bad for you, but you cannot give it up. Two Boston papers are superior: the Herald, with better columnists and editorials, and the Christian Science Monitor, which ranks higher overall.

Mark T. Reder Boston

Having been subject to the Des Moines Register for some seven years, I say that if the Register is in the top ten, print journalism is very nearly extinct.

Thomas D. Steedle Des Moines

I was pleased to see the Miami Herald rated as one of the ten best U.S. dailies. I read the paper when I was in the area recently. I loved it. I miss it.

Arebelle T. Gamache Gladstone, Mich.

Press Prizes

TIME’s story on the 1984 Pulitzer Prizes [PRESS, April 30] was in nearly all respects a model of concise and accurate reporting. It did, however, reflect a common misconception when it stated that the Pulitzer Prize board “overruled several jury choices” this year. The reality is that it is not the function of the three-to five-person juries that deal with each of the 19 Pulitzer Prize categories to choose the actual winners. The juries’ role is to winnow through the enormous number of entries and select in each category three finalists, any one of which the jury for that category would be content to see the winner. The jury may also indicate a preference among the three candidates it nominates. This year the prize board chose from among the finalists in all but two categories, which reflects a remarkable degree of respect on the board’s part for the judgment of the juries.

Robert C. Christopher, Administrator The Pulitzer Prizes New York City

Illinois Race

You bet the Paul Simon-Charles Percy Illinois Senate race [NATION, April 30] is worth watching. In the end it may boil down to a test of style vs. substance. As you suggest, some may know Democratic Candidate Paul Simon for his trademark bow ties. But his colleagues in Congress know him as the author of more bills passed this session than any other House member. My bet is on the workhorse, not the showhorse.

Morris K. Udall, U.S. Representative 2nd District, Arizona Washington, D.C.

Haig’s History

Your excerpts of Alexander Haig’s memoirs dealing with the Malvinas war [SPECIAL SECTION, April 9] are startling. General Haig claims that Argentina was intransigent and that I was “hardening the Argentine position and making resolution impossible.” However, during that same period when he was in Buenos Aires, Haig told us that President Reagan and others in Washington had found no intransigence in Buenos Aires, but rather had perceived a serious effort on Argentina’s part toward solving the problem.

Further, Haig claims that after agreeing to conditions that would bring about a cessation of hostilities in the Malvinas, I then put forth a tougher Argentine position. “Once again,” he says, “in an exercise of bad faith unique in my experience as a negotiator, the Argentines had gone back on their word and returned to their original, impossible terms.” It should be known that two days after this incident, Haig wrote me stating, “The paper developed in Buenos Aires has not been rejected by Britain. Some modification is inevitable. But I continue to believe that it is the right framework in which to seek a solution.” Haig alleges that Argentina negotiated in bad faith. We have strong doubts about his own good faith.

Nicanor Costa Mendez Former Foreign Minister of Argentina Buenos Aires

General Haig stands by his history of the events that occurred during the Falklands crisis. In the first installment of excerpts from Caveat [SPECIAL SECTION, April 2], General Haig relates a conversation he had with me in January 1981 while I was the Mexican Ambassador to the United States. Haig says I suggested that Mexico arrange for conversations between the U.S. and the Salvadoran rebels. This is true, and Haig vehemently refused my proposal. But then he quotes me as saying, “For years I have been waiting for an American to speak words such as these. Tonight I will go home and sleep well.” As a supporter of negotiated settlements, I condemn Haig’s aggressive attitude, and further, I never told him I would sleep well. On the contrary, Haig’s approach would give anybody a nightmare.

Hugo B. Margain, Senator Former Ambassador of Mexico to the U.S. Mexico City

TIME errs in its introduction to the Haig excerpts by stating that “not since another Secretary of State, James Byrnes, assailed Harry Truman’s foreign policy in 1947 in his memoir, Speaking Frankly, has a senior Cabinet member published such an attack on a sitting Administration.” I assisted Byrnes in writing the book. It is, on the contrary, an exposition and defense of the Truman policy before, as well as during, Byrnes’ tenure as Secretary of State. Indeed, President Truman’s cooperation was responsible for one of the most important sections of the book, on the communications between President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin revealing the deterioration in relations that set in almost immediately after the Yalta Conference. Whatever critical statements can be traced either to Truman or to Byrnes surfaced much later and were definitely not part of Speaking Frankly.

Porter McKeever New York City

Iranian Torture

Your article “Torture: a Worldwide Epidemic” [WORLD, April 16] makes two references to my country, which has been subjected to a campaign by the Western press to tarnish its image and reputation. In Iran, stoning is not a form of torture but a punishment officially sanctioned by Iran’s new penal code based on the holy Koran and Islamic Sharia. It is not used against political offenders but against ordinary criminals guilty of serious offenses like adultery and pederasty.

In addition, the photo of an Iranian woman, showing her scars from torture with broken glass, is a fake. There is no evidence that the wounds were inflicted while the woman was in prison, nor do you give her name, age, place of detention or political affiliation. A monafeghin (hypocrites) organization [referring to an anti-Khomeini guerrilla group], which has obviously put this false picture at your disposal, is trying to cover up its crimes in Iran, even though its efforts are doomed.

Abbas Rahimi Nejad, Director General Foreign Press Department Tehran

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