China's Media: Far From Free and Open

In the opinion-page article ``Radio Free Asia: Costly, Counterproductive,'' Sept. 13, the author correctly notes that Western investment in China will have a subversive effect on the Communist government there. But it is a giant leap of faith to suggest that this alone guarantees political openness.

The roundup of dissidents prior to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre is evidence of that. The day was ``uneventful'' precisely because the government made clear that it would brook no demonstrations to remind the Chinese people of the horror of June 4, 1989.

It is also true that more information is available in China today than in the darkest days of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's gulag. But that hardly makes China's media open and free. As the United States State Department reports: ``Domestic television and radio broadcasting [in China] remain under party and government control and are used to propagate the currently acceptable ideological line.''

Radio Free Asia is designed neither as an agent provocateur nor as an agent of revolution. Its purpose is to make more information available to the Chinese people about developments within their own society - and permit them to make judgments for themselves. Far from encouraging ``revolution,'' it seeks to catalyze an evolutionary opening of political space that will permit the Chinese to have fundamental rights long denied them by the repressive gerontocracy in Beijing. This objective is supported by numerous Chinese dissidents in this country, including Fang Lizhi, Liu Binyan, and Shen Tong, a leader at Tiananmen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Washington United States Senate

Why invade Haiti?

In the editorial ``The Haiti Invasion,'' Sept. 14, you throw up your hands and declare that a US invasion of Haiti should go forward because ``if a better alternative exists, it has yet to surface.'' I hardly think that we can justify an invasion simply because the Clinton administration's myopic and incompetent foreign policy has failed to develop any innovative solutions short of war.

If we must invade Haiti because its military junta oppresses people, then it is relevant to wonder what characteristics make this regime qualitatively more evil than the host of other dictatorships around the world. The editorial cites a US government study which asserts that the regime has killed 4,000 people and displaced 300,000 people. Numbers alone do not construct a compelling argument for an invasion.

The American people have no assurance that this invasion has any coherent objectives that military force can achieve. Haiti's problems are numerous, and like Somalia, it is not clear that an invasion can solve them. Asking why the president believes we should expose our troops to danger and how he plans to extricate them from a potential quagmire is not partisanship, but patriotism. Chris Schulten, Durham, N.C.

An economic trade imbalance

The article ``Caribbean Grabs Clinton Attention as US Finalizes Haiti Invasion Plan,'' Sept. 6, fails to mention the emergence of a third issue that will affect United States policy in the Caribbean.

The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement last year has provided Mexico a preferential access to the US market on many products that are key exports of the Caribbean. Such a competitive imbalance has already begun to erode US trade and investment links with the Caribbean Basin, undermining prospects for long-term economic development.

The Clinton administration hopes to rectify this situation with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It has proposed an ``interim trade program'' (ITP) that will restore a level playing field between Caribbean and Mexican exports to the United States. In return, Caribbean countries will undertake new commitments that will expand US business opportunities throughout the Caribbean. Ultimately, the ITP will lead to full free-trade agreements between the US and the Caribbean.

The Caribbean ITP envisions a more long-term framework for political stability and sustainable growth throughout the region. Richard L. Bernal, Washington Ambassador, Embassy of Jamaica

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