Letters to the Editor, September 22, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 4:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 4:36pm

US warplanes muddying sea dispute waters

I refer to the letters of September 21 by Philip Snow (“Soviet Union gave wartime aid to China”) and Christopher Ruane (“Many Russian soldiers killed in offensive”).

It was a pleasant surprise to see, amid so much indiscriminate Beijing-bashing by locals, two expatriates coming to the ­defence of China joining Russia to say “no” to the “big bad wolf” that America has perhaps inadvertently turned itself into, aided by Japan.

In addition to your correspondents updating Jason ­Kuylein’s knowledge in his letter (“China should think twice about this ally”, September 15), I have seen documentary film ­records showing that before the American Volunteer Group started ­fighting the Japanese in China, pilots from the Soviet Union and planes were ­already doing so in much larger numbers and from earlier on, as Mr Snow reported.

Who is friend and who is enemy, over the long term, is evident from who is and is not willing to supply you with ­first-line weaponry. Russia does sell to China.

That the USSR surrendered the vast, resource-rich Manchuria back to China, after driving out the Japanese (occupying from 1931), is at least proof of unselfishness.

It would be OK if only citizens like Mr Kuylein were biased against China. But it is disturbing to see the leaders of the two top military powers, the US and Japan, and their ­ministers, being similarly ill-informed.

This was illustrated in your editorial (“Japan has no place in South China Sea”, September 20) and in what Barack Obama said to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, that it was ­important the South China Sea disputes were ­resolved peacefully.

What are the prospects of peaceful resolution if US warplanes keep making unheralded passage through China’s territorial airspace, as two B52s did in August?

They flew to ­within two nautical miles of the Cuarteron Reef, with China’s military personnel warning over the radio that they were infringing ­Chinese territorial air space and the US crew ­insisting it was international air space?

This reef is part of the Spratly group returned to China by Japan in 1946.

According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea , even a reef is entitled to a ­territorial sea, the width of which is measured from the ­seaward low-water line of the reef.

Even the pre-treaty territorial sea is three nautical miles wide.

An interceptor plane from China would have seen from above the threatening sight of the B52s.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Give children room to play and blossom

With families shrinking in size in Hong Kong, parents can devote even more time to their ­children. And their endeavour to do the best for their children ­often leads to signing them up for a lot of tutorial classes and extra-curricular activities.

Their main target is for their sons and daughters to achieve academic excellence.

For some parents, this can mean tutorial classes, not just after school, but even during school holidays and at weekends.

They want their children to have the best start and to learn to succeed in a competitive environment.

Obviously some of them go too far and their expectations are far too high.

This forces children to lose out on necessary play time. Childhood should be a joyful and carefree time, but in Hong Kong, it is often not like that but dominated by ­studying and the ultimate goal of good exam ­results.

For so many children in Hong Kong, life becomes tedious, dominated by homework. Gradually, they may even lose interest in the learning experience, which should be ­a satisfying process.

Parents need to ­realise the seriousness of the problems they are creating and understand their children’s needs. They should not be ­forcing them to become ­learning machines.

Chanel Lui, Tseung Kwan O

Safety labels on food packaging a required step

I agree with your editorial, “Review our food safety ­standards” (September 14).

I believe specific food safety standards have to be established by the government for different kinds of food, for example, canned food.

The health scare in Macau involving a ­popular Hong Kong brand of mooncake showed that safety standards in the two cities are different.

We need a set of standards that will ensure people can feel confident when they make their purchases in shops.

There are nutrition labelling requirements in Hong Kong, but food manufacturers need to think about putting on a safety label as well.

Knowing the ingredients is important, but the safety aspect should also matter to consumers.

For example, labels should say if a product is unsuitable for certain age groups and give more information on possible effects of chemicals in a product.

The government should conduct regular reviews of its food safety standards to see if any changes are needed, for example, to labelling regulations.

It should be aware if there is a potential problem with, say, a chemical in a particular product and if it might pose a risk to ­certain groups of people.

Citizens must also take the initiative. They have a responsibility to look carefully at nutrition labels so they know what they are eating.

Mario Man Yuk-kin, Po Lam

Diners, eateries must act to end shark fin trade

I refer to the article, “Why politics, stubborn tastes and resilient suppliers mean progress against the shark fin trade can only ever be gradual” ­(September 21).

From ancient times, it has been the custom for shark’s fin soup to be served at important banquets, such as weddings, ­because it is considered a luxury. If the hosts do not serve it, it is considered they will lose face.

Because the finning of sharks is cruel, I think this dish should be banned and therefore should no longer be on the menu at banquets.

After the fins are cut off, the sharks are thrown back into the sea and of course they cannot swim without their fins and die. Also, because so many sharks are being killed for their fins, some species are now endangered and if the finning goes on could become extinct.

So it is now time for restaurants to stop serving shark’s fin dishes. If they are still on the menu when you go to a restaurant with your relatives, you should urge them not to select these dishes and ask the restaurant to take them off the menu.

Susie Yip, Kwai Chung

Time to curb influence of vested interests

Hilton Cheong-Leen reminds us that even the US and China can reach agreement on something as universal as climate change (“New lawmakers must recognise need for HK to remain competitive”, September 21).

He also says that we must “unfailingly strive to remain competitive” and hopes “the government will impress upon” lawmakers “the importance of economic development towards our city’s social ­progress and prosperity”.

If he were serious about this, he would be calling for the immediate abolition of functional constituencies, for the suppression by law of business combinations, monopolies and corporate welfare, and for ­reforms to the chief-executive election process so that vested economic and political interests could no longer exercise undue influence.

Then Hong Kong could ­regain competitiveness.

Continued failure to reform our dysfunctional political system, and the exploitation of the privileged economic positions that it encourages, is a ­major ­obstacle to social progress and prosperity, as the scandal of the dramatically shrunken Yuen Long housing project vividly ­illustrates.

Perhaps our newly elected legislators will remind “our” government of that fact.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels