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Democracy vs. culture

March 01, 2007

Re "The three futures of China," Current, Feb. 25

The flaw in James Mann's position is the age-old American viewpoint that democracy is the best form of government regardless of the circumstances. Historically, the transition from an autocratic government to a democracy has been painful and unstable. Winning the hearts and minds of people is rarely accomplished through politics but by catering to the most fundamental human desire: to improve one's living standards. I submit that if security vis-a-vis China is the objective of the American people, better to leave the ruling class in power but do everything possible to encourage capitalism. In short, make them consumers and they will eventually choose their own leaders.

LEE TRUMBLE

Oxnard

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Mann's third category for China is the most likely. Americans do not understand China. Its traditional culture has not changed fundamentally. Mao Tse-tung was merely a new emperor establishing a new dynasty, not a Western Marxist communist. Money does not give status. There is no rule of law. Officials are free to do what they think is best. Chinese culture has never fundamentally changed, while Japan has changed twice.

REX COLEMAN

Westlake Village

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China has no tradition of democracy and the rule of law. Democracy does not ensure its political stability. Instead, China needs a more powerful authority. Only that would ensure China's political stability.

LIN PING SHUN

Guxingli, China

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Re "Japan's lesson for China," Opinion, Feb. 26

By lecturing the Chinese on what they need to do, or the Japanese on what they should have done, to remedy chronic trade imbalances, Lawrence H. Summers did a disservice by not pointing out the obvious and the most important thing: We as individuals and collectively as a nation must live within our means.

BILL WAUNG

Rancho Palos Verdes

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