Friday, October 15, 2004

China and the arms embargo

Your Oct. 11 editorial “Arming Beijing,” which argued against ending the arms embargo on China, was fraught with a Cold War mentality and the hackneyed theme of the “China threat.” It is totally misleading.

First of all, the ban on selling arms to China is a relic of the Cold War, which ended 15 years ago. It goes against the world trend of peace and development and is out of step with the current China-European Union relationship.

The development of the comprehensive and strategic partnership between China and the European Union necessitates the lifting of the embargo, which in the end is in the common interests of China and Europe.

Second, there are no grounds for linking the issue of human rights with the arms embargo.



China’s human rights situation is the best in its history. Especially over the past two decades, China has made arduous efforts to feed and clothe its people through economic reform and opening up. More than 200 million people have been relieved from poverty.

Since last year, the Chinese government has adopted a series of judicial reforms, further improved the social security system and enhanced the protection of the underprivileged. The Chinese people now are enjoying unprecedented human rights and freedom.

Last but not least, the Chinese people love peace, and China follows an independent foreign policy of peace. Our national defense policy is defense-oriented. As a sovereign state, it is natural that China build up its own limited national defense in order to safeguard its national security and territorial integrity.

It must be pointed out, however, that the provocative actions by Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian to push for “Taiwan independence” have posed the gravest threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the Asia-Pacific region. We will do our utmost with maximum sincerity to strive for the peaceful reunification of the country, but will never tolerate “Taiwan independence.”

SUN WEIDE

Press counselor and spokesman

The Chinese Embassy

Washington

Malpractice in Maryland

I commend Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for recognizing and beginning to address Maryland’s current medical malpractice crisis (“Malpractice-caseamountssoar,” Metropolitan, Oct. 5).

However, the task force and a possible special session must result in real changes for the medical community in order to protect our access to quality health care, especially in high-risk areas such as obstetrics.

Medical-malpractice settlements have now doubled in Maryland. We need to address the frivolous lawsuits and rising jury awards that are increasing insurance premiums and forcing our doctors to abandon their profession or leave the state. It is becoming increasingly difficult for patients to find doctors who deliver babies or specialize in high-risk areas.

If we want doctors to stay, then we must follow in the footsteps of other states, such as Mississippi and Texas, which passed legislation capping noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Without comprehensive reform, doctors will have no choice but to leave.

CARRIE CAPUCO

Executive director

Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Annapolis

Protect property rights

I was dismayed that Bruce Fein (“Eminent domain, eminent nonsense,” Commentary, Tuesday) is encouraging the Supreme Court to sanction government confiscation of private property so local governments can increase tax revenues. Although Mr. Fein is correct that constitutionally “the hovel is as protected as the chateau,” it’s illogical to argue that because the hovel is unprotected from government confiscation to serve an ever-expanding definition of a public benefit, the chateau should be similarly exposed.

What Mr. Fein describes amounts to a violation of property rights from the Berman v. Parker decision, which sanctioned taking property to fix “urban blight.”

Mr. Fein suggests that the Supreme Court sanctified the forced redistribution of private property because the government’s imposition primarily fell on poor minorities. He evidently believes that because poor people aren’t secure in their property, middle-class people should suffer similar injustices.

He also supports his case for government confiscation with a strangely twisted interpretation of Adam Smith’s observation that private parties acting in their own self-interest ultimately promote the public interest. Apparently, because the new owner who receives plundered property via the government will also promote the public interest by acting for his own benefit, the requirements for taking property by eminent domain are satisfied. However, the Constitution authorizes the government to take property for a public use, not for a public benefit.

To argue that the government can confiscate property to increase tax receipts means that we are not secure in our possessions as long as someone else can make a strong case that they could put it to a more lucrative use.

The government should not be allowed to take a person’s property and give it to someone else just because the new owner might spruce up the place. Nor should it be allowed to redistribute property because it hopes collect more in taxes.

The Berman v. Parker decision was disgraceful, but two wrongs don’t make a right. All private property should be secure from government confiscation, regardless of how humble that property may be. We won’t restore the sanctity to the hovel by violating the chateau.

The Supreme Court can protect the property rights of both the poor and the middle class by overturning the Kelo v. City of New London ruling, as well as its own flawed ruling in Berman.

DAVID NEWMAN

Silver Spring

Goon squads: a coordinated effort?

In light of the series of attacks against President Bush’s campaign offices in the later stages of our election process (“Hate speech and goon squads,” Editorial, Thursday), it seems to me that a coordinated effort to intimidate conservative voters is in the works by operatives of the Democrats.

When actions such as these occur in one or two places, coincidence could be blamed, but when they are on the kind of scale we have just seen in numerous states across the country, one has to conclude that there is an effort to affect the election. Most probably this would be perpetrated by elements within the Democratic Party, with coordination from a single group.

Whoever the mastermind, the Federal Election Commission and Congress need to investigate. Such thuggery is an impediment to fair elections. Let us hope voters understand what is at stake and decide to punish whomever would engage in or encourage such abhorrent behavior.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

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