MAIL BAG

April 21 2008

MAIL BAG

April 21 2008

MAIL BAG

‘Change must happen slowly. The world could not handle a China torn apart from within.1

CHINA BLUES

BRAVO TO Maclean’s and John Fraser for having the courage to burst a bubble created by China’s many Western cheerleaders (“Butchers and monsters,” World, April 7). All we are usually force-fed by our media is that China is just about the greatest miracle on earth, and if we just shut up and act nice they’ll stop jailing and executing people for what they think. And maybe, finally stop using machine guns for crowd control. The sad, terrible truth is that a regime to rival Stalin’s killing machine has managed to survive into the 21st century. We in the West must speak for all those under the thumb of the Communists and tell our governments to demand more from China. Stop ignoring the excesses of the world’s worst human rights abuser, stop sucking up to get subsidized trade deals, and demand that China’s leaders change their ways. Or else we stop buying their products.

Larry Pope, Caledon East, Ont.

HERE IN CANADA we are not ruled by butchers and monsters, but by eggheads, a type that can inflict just as much pain and suffering. An egghead is someone who knows everything, but understands nothing, including the difference between change and progress. They’re the elites among our business and political classes who have decided it would be a good idea to open trade with the butchers and monsters, pitting our workforce of free men and women against serfs, leading to massive layoffs and a precipitous decline in domestic manufacturing. Their folly has left us dependent on imports of shoddy, dangerous goods that give new meaning to the term Chinese junk. When the $49-95 DVD player you bought breaks down irreparably after a few months, take a look inside. You will discover an important truth about madein-China items: these bargains are usually filled with parts and components that look like they were installed in haste by tired, illtrained and poorly paid workers under conditions of little or no quality control (which they were); and worse, were locally sourced, a cover for the practice of substituting inferior or counterfeit parts for those supplied by the companies whose brand name the product bears, the originals having been diverted for use by the Chinese military.

As of this writing, Canada has lost the tech-

nology required to make TV sets, telephones, washing machines, clothes dryers and many other things we used to manufacture here to our own, better standards.

Robert Smith, Ottawa

JOHN FRASER MAY BE an expert on China, but he seems to have a very short memory. It’s still within the lifetime of an individual that China was invaded by a ruthless enemy, was in the middle of a terrible civil war, and was riven by endemic warlordism. Millions died from bombing, bayoneting and starvation. A lifetime before that, China was under

the thumb of an eight-nation alliance (Japan, Russia, Britain, France, United States, Germany, Italy and Austro-Hungary) that ruthlessly put down the Boxer Rebellion, an antiforeign, anti-imperialist uprising. And a lifetime before that, there was the First Opium War, fought between China and the British East India Company. The issue? To force China to import British opium.

China is a great nation beaten up and raped for 169 years that has finally started to act with discipline and self-interest. It has nothing to apologize to the West for and the West has a lot to apologize for to China.

Frank Hilliard, Grand Forks, B.C.

I AM AFRAID we will not make a difference by being merely a witness. We have to stop helping the Chinese by supporting their economy and turning our eyes away from their shenanigans outside China. We have

to help create conditions in China that will increase the level of dissatisfaction and make more people protest. The way things are going, one day we will find that monsters are butchering us. At that point, either we will become the slaves ourselves or there will be a war to end all wars.

Sudhir Jain, Calgary

WHILE I DON’T AGREE with everything the Chinese government does, one has to keep in mind the vast disparity of incomes in the huge country as well as the tremendous differences between the old China, which still exists in much of the country, and the new China. Change there must happen slowly and carefully. The world could not handle a China torn apart from within. Any kind of ethnic cleansing would make Bosnia and Rwanda look like a school playground fight. Better to let the Chinese people come to the realization on their own that things are not exactly what they seem to be in their world, instead of upsetting the currendy shaky status quo. Is Canada or any other nation prepared to handle what would surely be the world’s worst disaster should the Chinese people suddenly revolt en masse? There is no black and white anymore except in Fraser’s mind. Brian Mahoney, Scarborough, Ont.

$PEAKING AS A PERSON of faith, I would like to remind John Fraser that religion and politics should not mix. A religious leader such as the Dalai Lama is certainly entitled to his own political viewpoint, but he should not preach politics since he is not a candidate for governing an autonomous state. We see certain clerics in the Middle East who have similar political aspirations. If the Western media is not hypocritical, then the Dalai Lama and those Muslim clerics should be recognized with the same considerations. More importandy, if the Dalai Lama is the peaceful person I hope he is, why does he not come forth to denounce some of his radical followers who took part in the violent riot in Tibet? They have burned shops with innocent civilians trapped within and vandalized civic infrastructures out of desperation, but the end still does not justify the means. Fraser’s article actually offers little insight into the Tibetan crisis; instead, he digresses into his own critique on ideology. His writing is judgmental and is intended to polarize public sentiments.

Maclean’s should encourage constructive dialogue, not fan the fire by splashing an inflammatory blanket statement on its front page. Wendy Kwong, Vancouver

BECAUSE OF RAPIDLY improving living standards, Chinese people’s satisfaction with their government is higher than those in Western countries in spite of the lack of democracy, terrible pollution, controlled press and limited religious freedom. John Fraser’s problem is he described a Maoist China that no longer exists. Fie is too ethnocentric. Modern Tibet natives are better off than our natives here in Canada in terms of their jail sentences, drug and alcohol addiction, suicide rates, school graduation, and welfare dependency. Though limited, Tibetans’ religious freedoms are higher than Chinese Christians. We should listen to the Dalai Lama: Tibetan autonomy within China, no Olympic boycott, and no racial riots. China has a long way to go but the Chinese are not monsters. Communist China will change because change is the only constant.

Dr. K. K. Wan, Vancouver

A DOLL’S HOUSE

YOUR ARTICLE ABOUT reborn dolls must have the wrong headline. Surely “It’s not a doll. It’s a baby” (Society, April 7) must be a misprint. You must have meant “It’s not a baby. It’s a doll! ” And this story about women who “adopt” a doll to “fill a void”? My God, tell me this isn’t so! What about the void in the bellies of the 30,000 to 40,000 children who die every day from disease and malnutrition? Are people so devoid of common sense that they can’t see that if they have an extra $250 to $500 to spend they have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than they are? What kind of mother messed these poor women up? Please, let’s stop this madness. Sandra Brunetta, Fort Frances, Ont.

CREEPY AND WEIRD, that’s what I say about grown women who love lifelike dolls. My advice: spend time with real people, enjoying a real life.

Heather-Victoria Abernathy,

Little Current, Ma?iitoulin Island, Ont.

KINGS OF THE HILL

IN DISCUSSING Canada’s present grand coalition, Paul Wells goes all the way back to the Borden era for a comparison, completely ignoring the greatest period of coalition government (“A grand coalition? It’s in Ottawa, not Berlin,” Opinion, March 31). In 1962, the Liberals brought the Progressive Conservatives to minority status. A year later, Lester B. Pearson fashioned a minority government and won another minority government in

‘Wealthy, super-emitting folks are found in all nations including Canada’

1965 that lasted until 1968. Pearson made this grand coalition work in the face of the bombastic and slightly eccentric John Diefenbaker and the brilliant socialist Tommy Douglas. Between ’65 and ’68, the Pearson government fashioned some of the most important legislation of the 20th century, including the new Canadian flag, unemployment insurance and much more. Pearson

used his great diplomatic skills to govern the country very well. I have been a Conservative all my life, but I have no qualms in saying he was the greatest prime minister this country has ever had. Talking about great coalitions: how could you do better with three of the greatest parliamentarians in history, Pearson, Diefenbaker and Douglas? The Borden era pales by comparison.

Al Wrigley, Barrie, Ont.

MOTHERLOAD

WHAT QUALIFIES Stephan Poulter to write a book about mother types (“Which mother messed you up?” Help, April 7)? Obviously, his publishers saw a lucrative topic—blaming mothers for everything that ails you emotionally is an old game. I thought that whipping horse had been put to rest once and for all, based on careful research done by qualified psychologists. It seems we live in a new era, where every Joe feels qualified to spout about anything that interests them. But rest assured, mothers are not that omnipotent: there’s fathers (present or absent), other significant adults and, very importantly, sociocultural influences that affect us all.

Elena Hannah, St.John’s, Nfld.

CHANGING THE WORLD

COLIN CAMPBELL’S cold-water-in-the-face article on our losing battle against climate

chaos is right on target (“What it will really take to stop global warming,” Environment, April 7). Emissions continue to rise sharply in Canada and most of the world. Our little efforts to cut emissions aren’t doing it. However, his daunting list of what it will take to win the battle is missing an essential strategy: consuming fewer fossil fuels. Before anyone brushes this off as a back-to-the-cave-dweller

fantasy, I recommend reading the new work of professor Stephen Pacala of Princeton University. Pacala’s latest research shows that less than eight per cent of humanity are responsible for 50 per cent of all climate-changing emissions. These globally wealthy, superemitting folks are found in all nations, including a large number in Canada, the U.S. and China. By focusing on national emissions rather than individual emissions we are stuck in a muddled fairness debate. Instead of building hundreds of nukes and damning our remaining wildernesses and probably trashing our climate of the future as Campbell says is likely, we could choose instead to set a maximum cap on personal emissions. This would give humanity breathing room to cut back on coal and to develop an alternative energy infrastructure replacement.

Barry Saxifrage, Cortes Island, B.C.

YOUR WRITER NEGLECTED to mention the incredible opposition to the Kyoto Protocol by many industries, the United States and even provinces within Canada. And while the article did inventory some of the current efforts and challenges to address carbon pricing, the development of new technologies and broad efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it concluded that the onset of climate-change fatigue would be the biggest failure of the environmental movement. One

would think that industry, mindless consumerism, and politicians might share the blame. Andrew McCammon, Toronto

IN COLIN CAMPBELL’S STORY, my quote was misconstrued as implying that environmentalists only began to take into account economic implications of climate change since the publication of Sir Nicholas Stern’s report.

To the contrary, what I expressed was that it is mainstream economists who for the past 20 years ignored the economic consequences of environmental degradation, especially climate change. Only since Sir Nicholas Stern’s report have they really begun to consider the economic consequences of climate. Environmentalists have, in fact, been proposing market-based solutions as far back as 1989 when the entire Canadian environmental community proposed that the Mulroney government adopt a carbon tax. Economists have finally begun to see climate change as an issue worth their consideration. This is welcome; it’s just unfortunate that it has taken them so long.

Emilie Moorhouse, Atmosphere and Energy Campaigner, Sierra Club of Canada, Ottawa