To Preserve MFN Status, China Must Keep Promise to Hong Kong

The opinion-page article "To Protect Hong Kong, Preserve China's MFN Status," May 17, recommends that the United States government give the people of Hong Kong the option of a "safe exit" to the US, since the British territory (population 6 million) will become a Chinese region by the middle of 1997.

"If Hong Kongers are free to leave," the author argues, "China may be more likely to respect their rights." That's unrealistic and unhelpful.

China has formally pledged to maintain Hong Kong's way of life for at least 50 years. It is more likely to keep its promises on Hong Kong if its people stay and resist any infringement on their freedoms. China, of course, would love it if articulate and dedicated leaders such as Martin Lee, a lawyer, and Han Dongfang, a trade unionist, would flee into exile. Both, however, are determined to stay and to stay active.

But what if the likes of Martin Lee and Han Dongfang are locked up in solitary confinement after July 1997?

China needs to be told that any such failure to keep its pledges will have consequences, specifically on preserving the extremely generous trading privileges it now has as a Most Favored Nation (MFN) of the United States. If Congress once more permits President Clinton to renew MFN status in June, it should serve notice that preserving such status will depend on China preserving Hong Kong's way of life. Beijing deserves to know that now. So do the people of Hong Kong.

Robert A. Senser

Reston, Va.

Kids' Day Out at work

Regarding the editorial "Girls' Day Out," April 25: My company offers a Kids' Day Out to the children of all employees. We have selected a day in July when everyone's children from age 5 to 20 can come to work with their parents for a half day.

This special day for children of either sex is set aside for several purposes. First, it provides children a close-up perspective of what their parents do, and their work environment.

Second, we take the opportunity to expose the children to a variety of career options. Within our headquarters office we have engineers, accountants, lawyers, secretaries, sales representatives, technicians, and computer professionals. The youngsters interface with these people to get a better understanding of what goes on in the workplace.

Third, we want to educate our children about our company and the products we make so they have a greater appreciation of the complexity of manufacturing and commerce.

We want to help them learn the interrelationship of products and processes of things they use everyday. Most important, we want our children to have fun, so we play games and watch videos. They're also given a free T-shirt and lunch.

The company recognizes that our children are the most valuable resource we have for the future prosperity of our company and our country. All of our children need to understand that they are important and can make a contribution. As we expose them to the workplace, they will see that it takes a variety of skills and individuals to make up a company and that each of them has a niche.

Lois Royle Marquardt

Plano, Texas

Safe, at last, in Israel

It is outrageous that the author of the opinion-page article "When Civilians Are Fair Game in War," April 25, raises the image of the Holocaust while blaming Israel for the outbreak of violence in Lebanon. The author ignores the other civilians affected by the conflict in Lebanon - namely the population of northern Israel.

Hizbullah, the pro-Iranian terrorist organization, has a long history of bloody anti-Israel violence. Most recently, Hizbullah's aggression and relentless firing of Katyusha rockets on Israeli civilians in the north forced hundreds of thousands of northern Israeli residents to flee their homes for safety in the south.

The thousands of residents who remained in northern Israel were forced to live in concrete bomb shelters for more than two weeks while Hizbullah's Katyushas continued to destroy their homes, businesses, vehicles, and schools.

Now that a cease-fire has successfully ended, civilians on both sides of the border will be able to return home safely.

Abraham H. Foxman

New York

National Director

Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published in the Monitor and the Monitor's on-line edition and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be addressed to "Readers Write" and sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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