A Dissenting View on China, Dissidents and Trade

I'm a business person, and I resent "Question of Conscience" (May 15), which again tries to sell us the perception that on June 3, 1989, Chinese troops mounted a "brutal assault on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Tian An Men Square." If you check the videos made before June 3, you can see students pulling unarmed soldiers off their trucks, beating them up and setting fire to their trucks as well as Chinese leaders trying to negotiate peacefully with student leaders, to no avail.

It is also patently manipulative to imply that a letter sent by a California business group to Clinton that supports continued most-favored-nation status for China reflects a position whose outlook "not all U.S. companies share," as if all companies are obliged to always share the same outlook on everything. Any time someone tries to sell me a "nobody-never-always" bill of goods, I know they're just trying to fiddle with my brain, because in the real world nothing involves everything or everybody, always.

What our amateur social engineers in the media seem to overlook are three facts:

* That the current Chinese leaders--like it or not--were the ones accountable for keeping the peace among the 1.2 billion people who did not behave in a socially irresponsible Chinese manner and, had 1% social chaos spread throughout China, it could have caused 12 million Chinese to perish.

* That when honorable folks want to meddle in other peoples' lives, they have the guts to send along a blank check for any damages that their meddling may cause others.

* That we brought the Cold War to an end, and in so doing put an end to the inconsequential political word games of the last 40 years.

China's leaders seem to have caught on that the new game involves the practical application of money, bottom lines and access to markets. To the extent this is so, it is stupid to continue to interpret Chinese decisions as any more than simply knowing how to play the new game well by leveraging China's massive market, no differently than any major market.

HENRY E. ADAMS

San Diego

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