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Another view of China

September 14, 2007

Re "China's eternal empire," Opinion, Sept. 10

Niall Ferguson's article is full of preposterous statements, but a few stand out. First, the claim that China has not had private property for most of its history is simply untrue; on the contrary, private property has been the norm there and Maoism the aberration. Second, the claim that because China had insufficiently developed property rights it has despoiled its environment implies that Europe and the Americas, with strong property rights, have consistently protected their environments. The fact is, without strong enforcement by both states and private parties, many things will be done the cheap, dirty way. Finally, the Qin emperor lived 2,200 years ago, and the claim that his intentions and attitudes have survived unchanged as the ruling ideology of China is just plain silly.

Kenneth Pomeranz

Irvine

The writer is a UC Irvine professor of history.

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Whatever criticisms Ferguson levels at China can also be directed accurately at the U.S. We have often maintained cozy relations with dictators for the sake of business: Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Suharto's Indonesia and, ironically, China are examples of this policy. Further, while China may account for the biggest carbon output on the planet, per capita the U.S. is still far and away the worst culprit. It is blatantly hypocritical for Ferguson to attack China for the very sins the U.S. has long committed.

Daniel Abraham

Brezenoff

Long Beach

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