Children's seatbelts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 November, 2003, 12:00am

As I understand the law, seatbelts are to be worn by all passengers in private vehicles and taxis.

Despite this, every day I see parents driving with their kids bouncing around in the front or back seat without restraint. Also, I was recently informed by three police officers that they do not enforce the law in respect of children because, as one said, 'they are too small'.

I would have thought that it was the duty and responsibility of the police to enhance the safety of Hong Kong's smallest citizens instead of protecting their stupid parents.

Could the police chief please explain why the force does not strictly enforce the use of seatbelts by all children in all private vehicles and taxis? Also, could he explain his thoughts when his officers come across a child splattered on the pavement when a seatbelt could have saved the child's life.

If children are allowed to flout the law, they will continue to do so once they become adults. Strict enforcement without exception will also enforce the idea to parents and children that they must obey the law.


Currency position

In 'China's bank woes affect US links' (November 26), you warn that China's position as one of the largest buyers of US government securities is a negotiating point it can use in its favour should the dispute keep escalating. China, you say, receives only sanctions, not thanks, for holding on to America's depreciating currency.

This widely repeated claim is based on a misunderstanding of how a country's balance of payments operates. A country that runs a current account surplus must invest abroad, either through the capital account or through central bank reserve holdings of foreign securities. If it chooses to hold assets in a country other than the one with which it is running a surplus, this must be accommodated by net purchases by other countries.

Unless it can convince the Japanese or Europeans to buy dollar assets on its behalf, in other words, China has no choice but to continue buying what you call the 'depreciating currency', and any purchase of dollar assets will of course either directly or indirectly end up funding the Treasury position. As long as China runs a current account surplus, it will be forced to fund the US Treasury.

MICHAEL PETTIS, Professor of International Finance, Tsinghua University, Beijing