- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2004

A democratic Hong Kong?

The situation in Hong Kong can be summarized as follows: Hong Kong’s people want full democracy; Beijing says no; a showdown is almost inevitable. How to avoid an unhappy ending?

Your Friday editorial “Hong Kong suffrage” provides an answer: “Without international pressure, Communist China has no incentive to open up.” You’re correct to suggest that the increasing connections between China and the West give Washington and other governments standing to express profound concern with anti-democratic developments in Hong Kong. Because no other nation would have the intention and guts to confront China, the United States becomes the last beacon of hope for Hong Kong.

Until recently, the Bush administration, by and large, handled China much better than the Clinton administration did. Mr. Bush sent an alarmingly wrong signal when he pressured Taiwan to back down from holding a referendum during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Washington last month. This almost constituted a betrayal of the democratic island state.

As a staunch supporter of the Bush administration’s effort to combat evil in the war against terrorism, I can’t help feeling let down by the same president who has fought so hard for the liberation of the Iraqi people. If Mr. Bush dares not offend China over Taiwan, would he even lift a finger for the smaller island of Hong Kong? After all, the White House has been very reluctant in voicing its support for Hong Kong.

While the United States is preoccupied with Iraq and North Korea and understandably doesn’t want to have another hot spot involving China, forgoing principles is not the way to secure peace. If the Bush administration stands up for the oppressed only when it’s convenient, how is it different from the shameful Clinton administration? Please, Mr. Bush, please prove me wrong.

KIN-MING LIU

Hong Kong

Beijing’s meddling in Hong Kong’s democratic development exposes one cynical aspect of its “one country, two systems” scheme that few foresaw before Hong Kong’s hand over. To add credibility to its unification plan, Beijing promised to leave Hong Kong’s socioeconomic system and way of life unchanged for 50 years. Pundits argued that this reassured Hong Kong residents.

Ironically, Beijing can now invoke this “generous” offer to deprive Hong Kong of a chance to democratize (because Hong Kong, despite its many freedoms, was not a democracy in 1997) until 2047 — or at least until China has first democratized, which is a huge loophole. The “one country, two systems” plan looks increasingly to be moving toward “one country, one system” — China’s, not Hong Kong’s.

Hong Kong’s 7 million residents, almost universally literate, enjoy one of the highest income levels in the world. They have long surpassed the “threshold” for democratization ($6,000), above which democracy is “impregnable,” in the words of Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington. The international community should lend its moral support.

VINCENT WEI-CHENG WANG

Associate professor of political science

University of Richmond

Richmond

Passionate perspectives

With a long history of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in his family, Mel Gibson has made a movie sure to exacerbate the anti-Semitism not only in this nation, but worldwide. Ignoring entirely the teachings of the Second Vatican Council under Pope John XXIII, he has brought back the ancient charge of collective guilt of Jews for the crucifixion of Christ. Crucifixion was the standard punishment for criminals under Roman law and was not a Jewish penalty.

After the Holocaust, which Mr. Gibson’s father and stepmother deny, as documented in a New York Times Magazine article , the Catholic Church under Pope John XXIII re-examined the record and then eventually absolved present-day Jews from any responsibility for the Crucifixion and placed the blame mainly on the Romans and their standard treatment of purported troublemakers during their control of what is now Israel. The revival of the Middle Ages version by Mr. Gibson, an individual who wants a return of the Catholic Church to its medieval practices, is a bar to the improvement of Catholic-Jewish relations.

Mr. Gibson has presented a film that will only give justification to many for anti-Semitism. Despite the approval of many clerics for this movie, hopefully the audience will be limited mainly to individuals who continaue the age-old practice of anti-Semitism embedded in their perversion of the Christian faith.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

I, for one, can’t wait to see Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” (“5,000 pastors cheer Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion,’” Page 1, Thursday).

Mr. Gibson has proved to be one of the great actors of our time. He has performed in Shakespeare, comedy, drama and historical epics as well as having directed the great movies “The Man Without a Face” and “Braveheart,” for which he garnered the 1995 best director and best picture Academy Awards.

To claim that “Passion” is objectionable because it is anti-Semitic is false and denies the film’s historical accuracy. Jesus of Nazareth was born a Jew in a Jewish land. Some Jews believed he was the son of God and followed him. Others did not, which fulfilled prophetic Scripture that reads, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

Those who denied that Christ was the son of God sought to have the Roman rulers put him to death. This is historically and factually correct, and to say it is not an indication of anti-Semitism. Readers of the Bible know that God loves the Jewish people. They are the “apple of His eye.” Christ’s message of redemption came to the Jew first and then the gentile.

LORRAINE RYAN

Berwyn Heights

Go fish

I read with interest Gene Mueller’s Wednesday column (“Md. boat launch fees double,” Sports), which discussed menhaden, a small, herringlike fish abundant in the Chesapeake Bay. While I agree with Mr. Mueller that menhaden are extremely important to ecological life in the Bay, I want to point out that menhaden provide numerous health benefits to humans as well.

Menhaden are the world’s largest source for fish oil, rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in certain foods consumed by humans all over the world. The Chesapeake Bay community and others benefit from menhaden oil, as omega-3s have been found to improve heart function, ease depression and treat arthritis.

Mr. Mueller also failed to mention that the menhaden resource is strong and is operated in an environmentally responsible manner. The menhaden resource is managed under the Atlantic Menhaden Fisheries Management Plan, which meets specific objectives to ensure that menhaden are a sustainable public resource for everyone’s benefit.

Furthermore, according to recent reports from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the menhaden resource is healthy and not overfished.

Unnecessary and burdensome fishing regulations on menhaden not only would hurt the availability of long-chain omega-3s found in menhaden oil, but also would put an end to the $10 million in economic contributions the industry provides to residents in Northern Virginia.

To find out more about the menhaden industry, I urge you to visit the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Web site (www.asmfc.org).

TOBY GASCON

Director of government affairs

Omega Protein Corp.

Baton Rouge, La.

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