Readers Write: China's communism is here to stay; Teaching is a successful career

Letters to the editor for the weekly print issue of March 5, 2012: One reader explains why Chinese communism isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Another complains that an op-ed's money-based definition of success unfairly labels teachers as unsuccessful.

Communism sticks in China

The question in the headline of John Hughes's Feb. 6 column, "The great wait of China: How long until freedom?," can be answered in two words: very long.

It is important to remember a fundamental detail about China's experience: The exponential economic growth of the last 40 years – despite a repressive, one-party state – is precisely the reason why the communist apparatus hasn't collapsed, and won't anytime soon.

If we want China to address human rights and political freedom, we must find another way.

First, there is no mass movement in China agitating for change. The burgeoning urban populations Mr. Hughes speaks of are reaping the riches of urbanization and economic development because of state policy, not in spite of it. The human rights discourse therefore has no resonance with the state.

Second, though the system bears "many of the hallmarks of free enterprise," this shouldn't be correlated with democracy. What starker example is there that "good governance" isn't a condition for development? As Hughes notes, efforts to spark a "Jasmine Revolution" in 2011 were swiftly extinguished, and still, China steams ahead.

Third, calls for change in China come from the perspective of Western democracies. China's experience is incomparable. Democratization and appalling human rights records will not resonate in a country that has seen itself flourish in a time when the worst excesses of Western decadence are laid out for all to see. Why would the Chinese want to go the same route as the United States or Europe?

How then, should we engage with China? We must do so in a constructive manner that speaks to the state's economic aspirations. This requires proactive dialogue based on a language different from human rights and democracy, eschewing moral superiority. This is an undeniable challenge that will take time, but it is not one we should shrink from.

Shireen Lau

Program assistant,

Secretariat of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict

The Hague

Teachers aren't successful?

I found Michelle Haimoff's Feb. 13 commentary, "Not funny: TV sitcoms lack strong female roles," to be extremely offensive, sexist (ironically), and false. She basically states that teaching and journalism (the jobs that Lily and Robin have on the show "How I Met Your Mother") are not successful careers, and that these characters are "struggling." As a teacher I consider myself to be extremely successful.

What is Ms. Haimoff basing success on? Money? So a schoolteacher who gets a five-year degree, works herself to the bone, and shapes the future of America is not considered successful because she does not make six figures?

Jessica Parkos

Murfreesboro, Tenn.