- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

Use Beijing Olympics bid as leverage for release of American scholars

It does not seem that quiet diplomacy and polite hope will win the release of those American scholars, such as Gao Zhan and Li Shaomin, who are detained by the Chinese authorities. History may offer the Bush administration an alternative strategy, however.
In 1993, China released Wei Jingsheng, the prominent dissident, to improve its chance to host the 2000 Olympic Games. China sees the treatment of prisoners of conscience as a matter of realpolitik rather than fundamental human rights, and will exchange a few dissidents for trade benefits or international prestige. The Bush administration should consider using this leverage.
Washington should retract its official "neutral" position regarding Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics. (Our current lame stance will only seal the bid for Beijing, which has no incentive to release Mrs. Gao and Mr. Li).
The International Olympic Committee is set to announce the host of the 2008 Olympics in a matter of weeks. Because Beijing eagerly seeks to host the games, a retraction of our current policy of neutrality would be more likely to win the release of Mrs. Gao and Mr. Li.
China's arrests have sent a chill through the scholarly community. Many colleagues are now avoiding going to China or re-evaluating their professional plans regarding China. The loss of the free flow of information, the exchange of ideas and collegial academic interactions is a serious self-inflicted blow to China's endeavor to become a more modern and prosperous nation.

Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Richmond

Columnist misunderstands process of producing environmental report

Thomas Sowell's June 24 Commentary column, "More whiffs of global hot air," about media treatment of the recent National Research Council report on climate change, misrepresented our study process. The expert committee, which included seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, did, in fact, write the report. All committee members reviewed and commented on multiple drafts of the report before approving the final version.
All reports issued by the council which is the operating arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering are reviewed in draft form before their release by individuals not involved in the preparation of the report. These reviewers are chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The report's "Acknowledgments" identifies the reviewers and clearly describes the review process.
Mr. Sowell confused the duties of these outside reviewers with the duties of the committee members when he mistakenly claimed that the latter did not write or approve the report. Rigorous review is a hallmark that distinguishes our reports from those produced by many other organizations offering scientific advice on matters such as global climate change.
We stand firmly behind "The Science of Climate Change," which can be read on the Web at www.nap.edu. It provides a succinct and balanced overview of what science currently can say about the potential for future climate change while outlining the uncertainties that remain in our scientific knowledge.

Executive officer
National Research Council

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