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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about US-Taiwan relations, Taiwan and Tibet, fire and farming, and algae in Vermont streams.

May 5, 2008



The US should host new Taiwan president

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In response to the April 14 article, "China's 'silent treatment' of Taiwan closer to ending": While China seizes fresh opportunities to reengage with Taiwan – offered by the March 22 presidential electoral victory of Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou and the defeat of the controversial referendum on joining the United Nations – the United States has curiously stayed out.

President Bush's prompt congratulatory message commended the "strength and vitality of Taiwan's democracy" and praised Taiwan as a "beacon of democracy to Asia and the world." But when President-elect Ma sent an important diplomatic signal by expressing his hope to visit the US before his inauguration, the US government rebuffed his request, treating him as persona non grata and telling him to improve relations with China first. No wonder the gaps between America's words and deeds confuse both its friends and foes.

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang
Richmond, Va.

Why China treats regions differently

Regarding your April 17 editorial, "China melts on Taiwan, not Tibet?": Economically, Taiwan is a prosperous economic power with strong influence on the whole Chinese economy. It also has the means to buy advanced weapons. Tibetans have no such power.

Yet, the Tibetans in exile want an arrangement that is not very different from what Taiwan enjoys. How can that objective possibly be in harmony with the factors of power in the world?

The West is under an illusion that Western protests can make Beijing concede on the most fundamental question of sovereignty. These protests can only stimulate Beijing to encourage more Han people to move to Tibet and make the Tibetans a minority there.

Wai L. Chui
Dallas

Fire deprives land of nutrients

In response to the April 30 article, "Taking the fire out of farming": Soils are home to a huge community of life – bacteria that help convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium and nitrates. Without the nitrogen cycle, nothing would grow.

The practice of burning disrupts this cycle. It bakes the soil and exposes it to direct sunlight. Evaporation increases, and the removal of organic matter removes the food the living soil communities need to survive. Fortunately, this soil life can survive extremes, but it does go into a state of dormancy. It can, however, become active again if conditions are improved.

Second, organic farming does have the capacity to feed the world! Step into an unspoiled forest full of massive trees, with a thriving and diverse array of plant life in the middle and understories. Are such forests fertilized? Yes, they are; but not by synthetic fertilizers, which are not only expensive to buy, but costly in terms of pollution and damage to the natural environment.

Grant Norvall
Sofala, Mozambique

Address tainted Vermont water

Regarding the April 29 article, "Though awash in water, Vermont set to protect springs": Vermont should be far more concerned with the New Zealand algae that has been introduced into Vermont's trout streams. It will soon be distributed statewide by wildlife and fishermen. But Montpelier will instead be worrying about water-bottling companies, while the free-flowing rivers and streams are ruined by contamination.

Christopher Coughlin
Springfield, Vt.

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