- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

Cooperate with PRC, but not at expense of Taiwan

In his Nov. 28 Op-Ed column, "Getting cozy with Red China," Arnold Beichman writes about the potential danger to Taiwan posed by the United States and the People's Republic of China working together against international terrorism.

My government welcomes cooperation between the United States and the People's Republic of China so long as it does not come at the expense of Taiwan's security or interests. The people of Taiwan live in a vibrant democracy in which freedom of expression and human rights are a fact of daily life. Why would any people in any part of the world want to risk such a remarkable achievement?

Taiwan's democratically elected president, Chen Shui-bian, has made every effort to normalize relations with the People's Republic of China. In a recent interview that will be broadcast to mainland China, Mr. Chen said that cross-strait relations should feature "more economics and less politics, more contact and less misunderstanding, more trust and less pressure." He also said it was his greatest dream to see "the leaders of both sides shake hands one day."

Mr. Chen recently lifted a cap on Taiwanese investments in the People's Republic of China; prepared to liberalize trade, postal and communications links; and even expressed a willingness to visit the People's Republic of China to trace his family's roots on the Chinese mainland.

Beijing's response, however, has been a vitriolic rejection of all terms save its own and continued rhetoric claiming that Taiwan is a "renegade province" of the People's Republic of China. I feel I must therefore point out that the People's Republic of China has never exercised jurisdiction over Taiwan and has blocked every effort by Taiwan to participate in international organizations and activities such as the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Shanghai.

The 23 million people of Taiwan have successfully created a society based upon the principles of freedom, human rights and democracy. Taiwan is confident that the United States remains committed to these principles while seeking to cooperate with the People's Republic of China in the fight against international terrorism. Taiwan's voters, who elected new legislators, country magistrates and mayors Saturday, should know that their cherished right to vote will not become a casualty of the war on terrorism.



Information Division

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office


Energy security requires both inspiration and legislation

Charles Rousseaux's Nov. 23 Commentary column, "Energy independence enterprise" shows how one person is using ingenuity to rise to the challenge of high energy prices. However, our imported-energy requirements are too huge to be satisfied by even 100 people like John Rich.
Consider for a moment that we import 60 percent of our oil, and 23 percent of that is from the Middle East. The terrorists we are after and their supporters aren't far from those sources of oil. What would happen to our economy if that supply were disrupted?
That was a major concern during the Gulf War. We weathered the loss of Kuwaiti oil during the Iraqi occupation, but the cost of oil rose to $45 a barrel (in 2001 dollars). Oil is now $19 a barrel. If the war in Afghanistan is prolonged or expanded to other countries, there is no telling how high it will go. Will our economy be able to recover?
There also is another factor, which September 11 has made painfully clear. Our nation's internal energy infrastructure is vulnerable to terrorist attack. Several well-placed bombs at different major natural-gas pipelines, electric transmission lines, electric generating stations or refineries could cause significant energy disruptions as well as property damage and possible loss of life. Our energy security is more at risk than at any point since the Gulf War and the last major energy legislation, the Energy Policy Act of 1992.
All this strongly suggests that President Bush and Congress should work together to quickly enact comprehensive energy legislation that will increase our energy supply and support structure. This will ensure our ability to fight a prolonged war against terrorism and guarantee our economic recovery.

President and chief executive officer
American Forest & Paper Association

Ensuring mental health parity is a smart thing to do

In response to your Nov. 26 editorial "No to Wellstone-Domenici health bill," I would like to share with you excerpts from a letter the National Mental Health Association was given recently. A 17-year-old high school student's term paper for her sociology class was enclosed. She had been diagnosed with and was receiving treatment for bipolar disorder, a mental illness that affects an estimated 5 million Americans.

Her name is Emily, and this is what she wrote for her class assignment:

"I believe that society tends to make my struggle even harder because of the non-accepting attitudes put in front of me. My physical appearance is not affected by my depression, so therefore I believe people tend to not see that I am sick. I do not believe that our society has ever considered depression a 'real' disease that requires treatment.

"An example of that would be when I had to go to the hospital because I couldn't get up in the morning.

"They wouldn't take me in because our insurance wouldn't cover it, whereas if someone needed treatment for a type of cancer and they didn't have insurance, they would be taken in anyway.

"I am not looking for someone to feel sorry for me or walk on their tip-toes around me. I am just looking for a little break. It seems as if the only time people really open their eyes to this disease is when it is too late, and someone commits suicide."

Four days after Emily turned in this report this year, she killed herself.

Emily's tragic story goes to the heart of the current congressional debate over the Wellstone-Domenici legislation, which requires parity in mental health insurance. As Emily's story points out, parity is a life-and-death issue to many Americans.

The parity debate is also about the American value of fairness. It is clearly wrong that in the United States in the 21st century we permit the discrimination of one illness over another just because, as your editorial argues, "a broken leg" is "easier" to diagnose.

Mental illness is real. It is common. It also is very treatable. The efficacy for the treatment of mental illness is as good if not better than it is for heart disease or cancer. So why do we discriminate against it? In part, because of the continuing fears, misconceptions and stigma of mental illness. Your editorial reinforces those misunderstandings by wrapping mental illness in typical Freudian psychobabble, referring to a "broken psyche."

Let's look at the facts and not the fantasy.

The surgeon general has stated that 20 percent of Americans experience the symptoms of a mental illness every year. Ten percent develop a serious condition, yet only a third get treatment. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco estimated that the American economy loses $105 billion a year through lost productivity caused by untreated and mistreated mental illness. Every year, 30,000 Americans fall victim to suicide, and it is one of the leading causes of death among young people such as Emily.

Mental health insurance parity will not solve all of these problems, but if it could save one person someone like Emily providing it would be the right thing to do.


President and chief executive officer

National Mental Health Association


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