Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 8 News List

[LETTERS]

Security before money

After reading Gordon Allan’s letter (Jan. 2, page 8), in which he criticizes Tristan Liu’s (呂曜志) article (“The risks and costs of opening to China,” Dec. 30, page 8) as isolationist and insular, I just had to compare the articles. While I believe a free and independent Taiwan reflects the values of the US, I accept the reality that Taiwan and China need healthy economic relations.

Liu’s editorial left me with the impression that his primary concern was the negative consequences of rushing the implementation of the “three links.”

The list of potential national security concerns is enough reason to pause. Sure, the Chinese have some idea of Taiwan’s military capabilities, but let’s not make those direct commercial flights a training exercise for an aerial invasion. After all, why else were direct flights banned for so long?

Are domestic airports ready to handle immigration matters and screening of diseases? Chinese tourism in Taiwan is a fantastic way for China to embed spies and offload criminals, who may ditch their tour groups.

Were direct cargo links hastily implemented? Sure, Taiwan can ship premium mangoes to China, but China will smuggle drugs and weapons into Taiwan with ease. It is reasonable for someone with more than an ounce of brain matter to consider such risks before opening the gates.

Allan’s letter gave me the impression that China’s economic potential is his primary concern. While a strong economy is in everyone’s interests, ignoring concerns about opening the gates to China is putting on blinders.

I admire his optimism, but tossing away sovereignty for the chance to earn a quick buck doesn’t make sense.

At least one should take time to negotiate favorable terms. In case he hasn’t noticed, the global economy — not just Taiwan — has slowed, so what’s the rush? It’s going to be a while before it gets better.

Yes, I agree with Allan that getting wealthy Chinese to spend money in Taiwan on medical procedures, resorts and shopping centers are creative ideas. However, the much anticipated boost from Chinese tourism has been disappointing. Perhaps Taiwan doesn’t promote itself effectively. (“Mr” Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) sure doesn’t.) Or perhaps some of those wealthy folks have been busy lately planning to launder money out of China before things get worse.

As for Allan’s comment encouraging students to “take risks and be creative,” I agree. After all, that’s how humans progressed from dragging their knuckles to walking upright.

But remember, too, that the best and brightest on Wall Street took risks in excessively creative ways that have severely damaged the US financial system.

It’s clear that Liu is more concerned for the security of the Taiwanese public than Allan.

CARL CHIANG

Richmond, California

Taichung American School?

Thank you for your article on filmmaker Hakon Liu (“Two cultures fuel ideal behind film,” Jan. 13, page 4).

The Norwegian school Liu attended in Taichung was on the campus of Morrison Academy, not “Taichung American School,” which does not exist. The American School in Taichung (known as Lincoln American School until a few years ago) was founded in 1990.

The Norwegian School used classrooms on Morrison’s campus from the late 1970s until around 1990. It was independent of Morrison Academy, although Norwegian students participated in many activities with Morrison students.

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