Taiwan: the Bargaining Chip

In response to the editorial "Taiwan's Future" (July 2), the Clinton administration argues that the president's public announcement in Shanghai, China, of the so-called "three nos" policy - no US support of Taiwan independence, no US support of "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan," and no US support for Taiwan's membership in international organizations where statehood is a requirement - merely reiterates a longstanding US policy. But it clearly weakens Taiwan's bargaining position, and strengthens Beijing's, in reaching a "peaceful resolution" between the two, which may not be in the best interests of the US.

In many ways, Taiwan represents what the US espouses, whereas China does not. Taiwan responded to American pleas for freedoms and democracy with a peaceful democratic transformation, rather than an in-your-face "Asian values" retort. Taiwan's experiences prove that a Chinese society can have both prosperity and democracy - wealth and liberty are mutually complementary, as President Clinton pointed out at Beijing University, not mutually exclusive, as Jiang Zemin contends.

However, the Clinton administration does not support Taiwan, and uses it as a bargaining chip in return for China's better behaviors on human rights or nonproliferation. The US should resolutely oppose Beijing's one-sided plan for Taiwan and its attempt to link the Taiwan issue with issues ranging from trade and human rights, to proliferation. This is not engagement, but blackmail. The 21 million residents on Taiwan should decide Taiwan's political future.

It is in everybody's interest for China to evolve into a democratic and prosperous polity in the next century.

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang

Richmond, Va.

Teaching life skills

This is a response to the "Being a Reading Tutor - It's a Snap, Right?" (June 30). I was very interested in Willa Reinhard's depiction of her tutoring experience because as a college junior, I also joined the America Reads program as an enthusiastic volunteer ready to change someone's life. However, I do not agree completely with Ms. Reinhard's assessment of the experience. It's true that kids do not sit quietly and listen, but we as tutors can still accomplish some things.

In my placement, I was able to work one-on-one with a shy, soft spoken, slightly angry grade-school girl. I soon realized, as Reinhard eludes to, that outside social factors impact her life more than anything I could do for an hour and a half a week. My tutee didn't want to plunge into the books I offered. Rather, she wanted to talk. She would ask my advice about a bully, fighting, her mother, nasty rumors, and dealing with the rough life she had to live. I learned that, rather than pushing aside these questions in the name of education, they needed to be dealt with. We spent time talking and figuring things out as well as slowly working through educational books. Often the two were intertwined and fitting. For example, a talk about friendship was accompanied by reading "The Giving Tree."

Maybe her reading did not improve because of me, but I believe I helped to clear her head and to enable her to focus on reading. Maybe she just needed someone to give her 100 percent of their time and attention. Nonschool factors often stand in the way of a child's education. We can't sweep them under the rug. We must face them no matter how awful they are. I believe we first need to see students as individuals with potential rather than imaginary innocents. If we are able to reach a child and clear his heavy head, then can we proceed with his ABC and 1-2-3 education.

Alison LeBeau

Richmond, Ind.

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