- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

What price freedom?

Friday’s editorial “Hong Kong patriots” unwarrantedly accused China of “cracking down on democratic sentiments in Hong Kong.”

As a matter of fact, since Hong Kong’s return in 1997, the central government of China has adhered to the fundamental policies of “one country, two systems,” “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong,” a high degree of autonomy and the implementation of the basic law. It also has tried its best to help the region’s economic recovery.

The people in Hong Kong, free from 150 years of colonial rule, are enjoying unprecedented democratic rights. Small wonder that this year the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation have ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy for the 10th consecutive year.

With the full support of the mainland, Hong Kong has successfully overcome the Asian financial crisis and maintained its status as the international finance, trade and shipping center. The implementation of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement as of Jan. 1, which already has contributed greatly to the economic growth of Hong Kong, will bring about more benefits to both the mainland and Hong Kong.

Facts have proved that only by maintaining social stability can Hong Kong preserve a sound business environment, keep its features as a free port and thus create favorable conditions for economic recovery and further development. The basic law provides the fundamental legal guarantee for the principles of “one country, two systems” and “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong,” as well as Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability. The development of Hong Kong’s political system must proceed in accordance with the basic law and in light of Hong Kong’s reality. This is the right approach for prosperity and stability, which serves not only the long-term interests of all the people in Hong Kong, but also the interests of the international community.

SUN WEIDE

Press counselor and spokesman

Chinese Embassy

Washington

In the midst of your Friday editorial “Hong Kong patriots,” you burst into an unfortunate full frontal assault on Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, saying, among other bizarre insults, “The British, supposed exporters of democratic ideals, did not give Hong Kongers any chance at self-determination.”

You correctly cite the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, yet fail to mention that the New Territories were just leased to Britain in 1898 for 99 years. Thus, the British were left with few choices.

They could have handed the New Territories back to the communists, while keeping Kowloon and Hong Kong island. But surely the advancing Chinese troops would have kept on marching.

Alternatively, they could have handed the colony to Taiwan. That would have been difficult, given that almost all countries, including Britain and America, had long since recognized the People’s Republic of China. Moreover, given Beijing’s recent military actions toward Taiwan, this surely would have proved a dangerous course of action.

The only other remaining option would have been for Britain to ignore its 1898 treaty and carry on as normal, a most untenable position. I only hope the military bases leased to the United States at the beginning of World War II will be rightly returned to Britain in the 2040s, lest the word of the world’s leading democracy be rendered worthless.

STEPHEN WILSON

County Armagh,

Northern Ireland

Your Friday editorial “Hong Kong patriots” was correct to say, “Freedom for Hong Kong is more unreachable than ever before.” Beijing has taken off its gloves and viciously attacked Hong Kong’s democratic activities, accusing them of not being “patriots,” a code word for loving the Communist Party.

The United States has a good opportunity to lend Hong Kong’s people its much-needed support when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on Hong Kong tomorrow. Hong Kong democratic movement leader Martin Lee and other activists will tell committee chairman Sen. Richard G. Lugar and his colleagues about the plight of Hong Kong against the oppression from the largest remaining communist dictatorship.

Hong Kong, as the only beacon of freedom in mainland China, deserves the strongest support of the United States. Congressoverwhelmingly passed a resolution expressing support for democracy in Hong Kong last June. Now the Senate is paying attention to our struggle. It’s time for the White House and the State Department to tell Beijing unequivocally to honor its promise of letting Hong Kong run Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” formula.

KIN-MINGLIU

Hong Kong

Common (non)sense

If Dan Thomasson wanted to patronize gun owners with his commentary regarding gun control in an election year, I think he succeeded (“Talking sense on gun laws,” Commentary, Monday).

One of Mr. Thomasson’s main contentions is that the so-called “assault weapons” ban should be renewed so that the nation’s law officers aren’t “outgunned.” I’m wondering how this is possible, because the guns on the banned list are semiautomatic just like the guns used by the police. These are not machine guns that fire one round after another, as Mr. Thomasson not so subtly implies.

Mr. Thomasson also calls for a rejection of the bill currently being considered by the Senate, which would end frivolous lawsuits against the gun industry. He states that it would relieve the industry “of any obligations to make their weapons safer.” This is misleading, as the bill has nothing to do with defective products. Negligent entrustment, breach of contract and normal product liability cases would be allowed. What would not be allowed would be lawsuits blaming firearm manufacturers for the criminal conduct of third parties.

Moreover, Mr. Thomasson apparently thinks one can be for gun rights while continuing to chip away at those rights. Such efforts ultimately will succeed only in disarming the law-abiding and aiding the lawless. That kind of “sense” we don’t need.

JIM TOMS

W. Frankfort, Ill.

Dan Thomasson’s column contains lies. He claims gun shows are a “major marketplace” for criminals obtaining guns, yet the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found in 1997 that 1.7 percent of criminals’ guns were obtained at gun shows.

He also claims gun dealers are exempt from performing background checks when selling used firearms; this is incorrect. Anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms, the definition of a dealer, must have a federal firearms license and follow the federal laws on selling guns, whether used or new.

Perhaps he’s trying to get people confused about the difference between a dealer and a private seller. Private sellers are not required to perform National Instant Criminal Background Check System checks, nor is there any provision for them to do background checks even if they so desired. It’s hard to believe anything Mr. Thomasson has said when such whopping lies are told or when he quotes Americans for Gun Safety, a known anti-gun organization whose interest is gun control, not advancing gun safety. The National Rifle Association does more for gun safety than all the anti-gun organizations put together.

JAMES YANIK

Casselberry, Fla.

An irresponsible comparison

Your front-page article that labeled priests who molest boys as homosexual was a transparent attack on the homosexual community (“Gay priests cited in abuse of boys,” Saturday).

I would like to clarify that adults who molest children are pedophiles regardless of the sex of the child they choose. Homosexual men and women stand for loving relationships with other consenting same-sex adults. To refer to a pedophile as homosexual is irresponsible and an atrocity.

It appears mindless to me when someone opposed to homosexual civil rights can’t state why other than to say “it’s just wrong,” “because God says so” or “its immoral.” Well, I say it’s right for me; I feel God’s blessings in my life every day. By whose code are love and commitment immoral? Not mine. Don’t shamefully link me to child-molesting priests, because I am neither.

RAYMOND KLINE

Falls Church, Va.

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