Letters to the Editor, December 4, 2013
China not a victim of persecution
I find it astonishing that your contributor Eric X. Li ("China's own path", November 23), obviously a successful international businessman with outlets for his political views at Oxford and Yale, should see China as being the victim of international persecution. This appears to have coloured his views to such an extent that he has been blinded to some international realities.
China has organised its capital resources effectively since 1978 and, from a very low base, has grown dramatically. More recent continued growth would not have been possible without the World Trade Organisation agreeing to China's membership.
In spite of this rapid development, China's economy, with a closed capital account and a non-convertible currency, can hardly be called a "market economy" in global terms.
This economic progress, accompanied by the gradual move from Marxist-Leninist communism to national socialism, has benefited some but not all - and certainly not those tens of millions denied life and freedom by state policies and the effects of chronic pollution.
Mr Li's reference to China's feeling of "centrality" and rejection of "current global architecture" does not explain the preference of its leadership and elite families for overseas education and depositing of wealth offshore. Surely, global importance and centrality would also imply some degree of responsibility? Why, then, are China's closest allies failed states or sponsors of global terrorism (North Korea, Pakistan, Iran).
Why does it threaten its regional neighbours with aggressive and unsubstantiated territorial and marine claims? Why are intellectual property theft and cyber aggression supported by the state?
Mr Li has to accept that China is a member of a community of nations. The inherent threat of conflict in his last paragraph harks back to the gigantism engaged by the Soviet Russian and Nazi German propaganda machines - he does China no service with this hyperbole.
He should perhaps look for other examples of large Asian powers that have grown rapidly and integrated successfully into the global community to the benefit of all.
Jeremy Stewardson, Central
Brainwashed about value of exam results
After reading Emily Wong's letter ("Education system needs overhaul", November 19), I have a strong feeling I am one of the victims.
Being a senior-form student, I keep asking myself: Why do I study? Is it just for exams?
It seems to me that Hong Kong students and even teachers are brainwashed by the distorted thinking that exam results are everything. Employers hire people with a higher educational background. This is not wrong. If I were them, I would probably do the same.
But does it mean those who do not do well with books cannot do well in the workplace as well?
To study hard and do the best we can is our responsibility, yet we need to keep in mind that we are learning something useful and can broaden our horizons, not just memorise essay after essay, formula after formula.
If our government holds the same view, I believe the education system will gradually be changed and the pressure on students will be relieved.
Stephanie Leung Chi Yau, Fanling
Relaxing the one-child policy risky
I am writing in response to the article ("Parents have own one-child policy in Guangdong," November 20). Parents in Guangdong appear to have given a lukewarm reception to plans to relax China's one-child policy.
A survey found that 51 per cent of the 741 interviewees welcomed the change, but 40 per cent said they would not have a second child.
The purpose of the one-child policy is to suppress the rapid growth in China's population in order to lift the quality of life and develop the economy. Anyone found having more than one child receives a penalty or even imprisonment.
The one-child policy has been blamed for its inhumanity over decades. It sounds good to have the change, but I am afraid that the quality of life of people would be adversely affected.
China has 1.3 billion people now and still has the second-largest population in the world under the one-child policy. The policy now is relaxed to allow a second child in each family if one of the parents is an only child. It is estimated that 100,000 extra newborns would be seen every year.
With this population boom, China may not have the ability to handle all the people. Hence, the living environment would be poor and overcrowded.
Some parents in Guangdong do not want a second baby due to economic pressure. They find that it is costly to raise a child. They have to pay an entrance premium for their kids to get into good kindergartens and schools. They have to pay for tutorial classes to enhance the children's studies. Their expenditure may exceed their income and the financial burden would become much heavier, resulting in a lower quality of life.
I am afraid that the mainland is following in Hong Kong's footsteps. Once the population booms, the competition for access to public resources will be more intense. Those who lose out in this competition would complain and this will probably lead to social disharmony.
These conditions will lead to more serious consequences like the widening of the wealth gap as a result of uneven food distribution and an increase in the unemployment rate.
I hope the central government can consider this issue very carefully and develop a better future for the next generation.
Shirley Kwok, Tsuen Wan
Show moral support when disaster strikes
It is really sad to see the news of the Philippines being hit severely by Typhoon Haiyan. Is it punishment for human beings, who manage to give their first priority to economic development and neglect the environment? Surely nature is taking revenge. I hope everyone around the world can sympathise with the victims and do anything possible for them.
Yet, there is heated debate over whether China or Hong Kong should give the Philippines a helping hand due to the Manila hostage incident. As far as I am concerned, nothing can be more important than rescuing those in need. Disputes should be put aside.
We have to clearly understand that the victims hit by the typhoon are innocent. We cannot mix the two situations. Some even believe, wrongly, that the storm "served them right". Educated and considerate Hong Kong citizens will not stoop to such low moral standards.
If we were the victims, we would hope people worldwide would show their love. Rescue work is not just limited to food or medical treatment but also moral support. This will give the victims courage to survive. We are truly lucky to live in Hong Kong, which experiences very few disasters.
Rachel Yeung Chit, Tsuen Wan
UK architect humbles with Murray design
Ron Phillips ("Architect seeks room with a historical view", November 23) deserves respect from Hongkongers, not only because he is a British architect, but because he introduced state-of-the-art building techniques to design the Murray Building in Garden Road.
It was built on a slope with a high inclination angle, when most of the local buildings at the time were only four or five floors without elevators. Later on, many public housing projects borrowed this successful example to build homes for poor people on hillsides, which used to be covered with hundreds of wooden squatter houses threatened by landslide disaster after rain storms.
One of my favourite features of the Murray Building is the concealed window design that reminds me to adopt a humble philosophy and not to shy away from risks with the knowledge of science.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling