A high price for Taiwan's independence

Regarding your Nov. 21 editorial "Taiwan, China Play Chicken Again": Most Americans have no or little idea of the complex relationship between Taiwan and mainland China. The remnants of the cold-war mentality cause the American media to often condemn the Chinese government and side with the Taiwanese government without objectivity. Taiwan was separated from mainland China due to 19th-century colonialism and the 20th-century cold war. The separation was forced upon both the Taiwanese and the Chinese by outside forces.

The current intimate economic and cultural ties between the two parties prove that, despite the differences in political systems, people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits can work together for a better future. Unfortunately, there are a few Taiwanese politicians who are willing to jeopardize prosperity and peace across the Taiwan Straits for their own political gains by challenging the sovereignty of China.

History has taught us that separatist movements, even in the name of freedom or democracy, often result in bloodshed and catastrophe. The bleak reality of Chechnya today should serve as a reminder for Americans not to cheer for the separatists. No Chinese wants to go to war with Taiwan, for people on both sides of the straits are blood relatives, yet no Chinese will allow the separatists to sever Taiwan from the mainland. What the Taiwanese separatist politicians hope for is American military intervention: The last time America meddled in Asia in the name of defending democracy, however, the Vietnam War was the result. Are Americans willing to die for Taiwan now?
Ruiqi Ma
Riverside, Calif.

Two sides to Thailand's AIDS fight

Thailand may be a "learning center" for developing countries when it comes to promoting condom use among sex workers and other groups at high risk of sexual transmission of HIV ("Asia looks to Thailand's AIDS success story," Nov. 20). But the lesson ends when it comes to preventing HIV within another vulnerable group: those who inject drugs.

The best way to prevent HIV among people who inject drugs is to reduce the sharing of blood-contaminated syringes by implementing programs such as needle exchange, methadone maintenance, and safe injection facilities. The Thai government refuses to invest in these programs. Worse, it has engaged in a brutal crackdown against illegal drug use, leading to the alleged extrajudicial killing of nearly 3,000 people. Injection drug users are reportedly avoiding HIV-prevention services out of fear of being identified with the drug trade.

Thailand showed the world that reducing the stigma against people affected by HIV/AIDS is the key to fighting the epidemic. It's a shame Thailand doesn't apply that lesson to people suffering from drug addiction.
Joanne Csete
New York
Director, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch

Key to work productivity: integrity

Regarding your Nov. 17 article "A new spirit at work": I was pleasantly surprised to read that some business leaders want to restore morality in the workplace. I have worked for large businesses where only "the bottom line" counts, where employees are just numbers and expendable. Principles get bent or adjusted to serve "preferred people." There should be integrity and morality in all we do, whether at work or home. Who is it going to offend or hurt to do things kindly?

In general, those employees who are treated fairly and paid a decent wage will have a sense of pride, will be more successful, and will want to stay at their company.
Sylvia Knight
Eidson, Tenn.

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