- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

‘One country, two systems’

It is hard to understand the logic of your Nov. 14 editorial “Subsuming Hong Kong,” which suggests Hong Kong risks eroding its rights and freedoms because of closer economic ties with mainland China.

The fact that Hong Kong, as a separate member of the World Trade Organization and the World Customs Organization, has negotiated a Close Economic Partnership Arrangement with our sovereign power is a powerful example of “one country, two systems” at work. This arrangement not only benefits Hong Kong firms, but also U.S. and foreign firms based in Hong Kong.

The Shanghai and Hong Kong Office for Professionals’ Exchange and Cooperation Service you mention ties into efforts to promote greater cooperation with Shanghai, considered by some to be a competitor. We welcome the chance to play a greater role in Shanghai’s development, which strengthens our position as a platform for accessing the China market.

It is astounding to claim there is no clear evidence that building more economic links will have a positive long-term effect in Hong Kong. One only has to look to southern China’s Greater Pearl River Delta (PRD). Since 1979, long before the hand-over, Hong Kong has been a driving force in the modernization of this area, which has emerged as one of the world’s largest manufacturing basins.

The repositioning of manufacturing activities to the Pearl River Delta has resulted in an enormous expansion of Hong Kong companies’ output and global presence. About 1.5 million Hong Kong jobs are related to Hong Kong companies’ manufacturing activities in the delta.

The enhanced links have allowed Hong Kong to build a transportation and logistics juggernaut that boasts the world’s busiest container port and airport for international cargo. They also fueled our development into a global logistics and financial hub. Mainland operations also benefit from our internationally recognized business practices and standards, as well as our legal and marketing services.

As you say, Hong Kong and the mainland have operated as separate political-economic systems under one flag. None of the developments you mention change that or will do so in the future.

JACQUELINE A. WILLIS

Hong Kong commissioner, U.S.A.

Washington

Reforming Medicare

The bill to modernize Medicare is slowly, but surely, working its way through Congress.

The Washington Times reported (“AARP backs Medicare bill,” Page 1, Tuesday) that this bill, which would add a prescription-drug benefit, has gained the support of AARP, a 35-million-member organization representing older people throughout America. It also has gathered the opposition of the AFL-CIO and other liberal groups.

It is virtually impossible for any layman to know and understand what is actually contained in a 1,100-page piece of legislation — much less what the actual cost ultimately will be. For what it’s worth, lawmakers have agreed to a $400 billion limit.

Several undeniable features are emerging, however. It seems certain that passage of this bill will benefit millions of seniors and their families by providing prescription-drug coverage at relatively low cost to people with low incomes and those dependent upon Social Security. It will encourage employers to maintain existing health benefits for retirees. It also will subsidize private health plans and separate insurance coverage that pays for drug costs. The bill would get generic drugs to the marketplace faster and add several preventive and chronic care management services. It also strikes an important balance between Medicare and the role of private-sector insurance coverage.

Is it perfect legislation? Of course not, but it does represent a significant breakthrough in the way our political leaders seek to strengthen and expand health care in the face of rising costs, which should be a concern to every American, regardless of political affiliation.

As a doctor, I would suggest that the best way to escape the rising costs of health care is to avoid medical problems in the first place through effective preventive measures. That will take individual discipline, willpower and personal commitment — things no amount of legislation can ever properly address.

In the meantime, I want to salute the members of the Medicare Prescription Drug Conference for enduring their own “long, hard slog” through the provisions of this bill in an attempt to come up with something that can provide greater health security for Americans while protecting the integrity of Medicare.

DR. HAROLD M. KOENING

President

Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy

Annapolis

After reading about the drug-benefits bill being formulated by members of Congress in an almost clandestine setting, I fear that senior citizens nationwide will have plenty of concern about the outcome. Under Republicanleadership, Medicare will all but cease to exist as privatization takes over and price controls are eliminated. That in itself will put many senior citizens at risk, not being able to afford to pay for medications they require simply to stay alive. How’s that for “compassionate conservatism”?

As the war in Iraq drags on, domestic issues are fast becoming casualties here at home. The Bush administration’s sorry excuse is, “Hey, there’s a war on.” Indeed, and another war is shaping up here: the war over who will survive this administration’s (Congress included) callous disregard for the concerns of the elderly. Everyone across the nation affected by the pervasive political inertia gripping Washington should write, call or e-mail his or her representatives (both local and state) plus AARP and demand that they come up with a medical-benefits bill that is fair to senior citizens and the drug companies. The way it stands now, drug companies will reap huge profits on the backs of the elderly, who will go down in flames because of the lack of price controls. In the spirit of bipartisanship, this version of theprescription-drug Medicare bill should not pass.

HERBERT W. STARK

Massapequa, N.Y.

Justice for Jackson?

Most people condemn in the harshest terms the sexual abuse of children. However, there is a worldwide movement actively pursuing the “right” to “intergenerational love.” If the legal circumstances are apt, Michael Jackson must and should be brought before the bar of justice. However, I wonder about unintended consequences.

Understand that I am not comparing homosexuals with child molesters; I am discussing the dynamics of culture and politics over a period of years. On that basis alone, consider that the trial of Michael Jackson might well do for child molesters what the trial of Oscar Wilde accomplished for the homosexual movement a century ago. That was to rally the movement, give it the human face of a tragic hero, make it fashionable among “advanced” thinkers, steer it into politics and eventually enforce its mainstreaming.

Such seeming imponderables must be broached for one simple reason. Who can doubt that we as a nation are only a single Supreme Court decision away from legalizing any behavior imaginable?

HERBERT BORKLAND

Columbia

There’s an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson. Oh, great. Here comes the next media circus. Gary Condit, Lacey Peterson, Kobe Bryant, O.J. — it’s just so easy for the news networks. Babble endlessly into the camera. Point the camera at other people and let them babble.

But, hey, you know what? We have soldiers dying every day in Iraq. I hardly ever see their names or faces flash across the screen. Italy had a full day of national mourning over some of its guys. Don’t ours merit at least a bit of a tribute?

I’m sure covering Michael Jackson 24/7 will be loads of fun — what could be more fun than a freak of a celebrity molesting a 12-year-old boy? But I don’t think Sgt. Timothy L. Hayslett would appreciate that receiving more coverage than what he’s doing in Iraq — or rather, what he was doing before he died.

BILL STOSINE

Iowa City, Iowa


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