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Being Cautious With China

I am writing in response to the article by Jonathan Richmond PhD ’91 [“Questioning the Premier,” April 13]. While I certainly agree that China has several human rights issues that the government should address, I strongly disagree with the tone that Richmond uses.

China is an emerging superpower, and to treat it with the disrespect implicit in Richmond’s article is not only impolite; it may be dangerous. Fostering an atmosphere of hostility between the United States and China will not accomplish anything besides creating an environment in which both countries may find it difficult to conduct negotiations in the future. The events of the past few years, such as the Chinese test-firing of a missile over Taiwan, make it clear that the United States will have to handle China with careful diplomacy, not angry rhetoric.

In order to solve our differences with China, it is important that the United States make an effort to understand why the Chinese government takes the stances that it does. For example, my understanding is that China views Taiwan much as the North viewed the South during the Civil War -- as a rebellious territory that needed to be reclaimed in order to preserve the integrity of the country.

This view of Taiwan is not one with which I necessarily agree; however, it is one that the United States needs to comprehend in order to create a successful dialogue between countries.

In general, I believe that in order to resolve any contentious issue, it is important that each side understands the views of the other. Otherwise, there is the possibility that any conflict of ideas may escalate into hostility and violence.

Tzu-Mainn Chen ’99