U.S. citizen's arrest by China deploredOur deteriorating...

the Forum

July 10, 1995

U.S. citizen's arrest by China deplored

Our deteriorating relations with China have reached a critical stage.

At the very time Congress is becoming neo-isolationist, the president lacks strength and vision and the United Nations is proving feckless we are confronted with a direct challenge to our sovereignty.

A U.S. citizen, Harry Wu, was illegally captured and imprisoned by the gerontocratic dictatorship that governs 20 percent of the world's population.

The Chinese government held, and may still be holding, a U.S. citizen incommunicado and without any charges against him.

Harry Wu is offensive to China because he speaks the truth about the crimes of its totalitarian regime.

He has documented human rights abuses and corruption, including the involuntary extraction and sale of prisoner organs as well as the mass export of prisoner-produced goods.

Mr. Wu, now 58 years old, has spent half his adult life in Chinese prisons, where he has been tortured and traumatized.

Instead of enjoying the remainder of his life in freedom, as an American citizen, Harry Wu has become a hero and a symbol of hope for all those suffering in Chinese forced-labor camps.

The first responsibility of any government is the protection of its citizens. This is especially true for the world's most powerful democracy. The case of Harry Wu is not about politics or economics, it's about our most cherished principles.

The question now is whether our government will uphold the principle that every law-abiding citizen is protected from kidnap and incarceration by a foreign power as well as the right of all Americans to speak the truth about human rights atrocities.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Md. too hasty in closing foster home

The Maryland Board of Public Works acted precipitously in cutting off funding for a program for former foster children ("Foster care program closed, state to probe," July 1).

While some of the young adults in the program may have committed crimes, that does not excuse the board from its responsibility to promote the best interests of all the young people involved.

Should 50 be punished for the sins of two?

The former foster children had been remanded to custody of the state because of abuse, neglect or abandonment by their parents or guardians.

The state was to act in place of the parents to protect them.

State Comptroller Louis Goldstein and the other members of the board thus have a special responsibility to protect these residents.

Although the former foster children's chronological age makes them adults in a sense, the law extends services to them until age 21 in recognition of the obvious fact that many people -- especially victims of abuse and neglect -- are not ready for adulthood in today's society at age 18.

Mr. Goldstein is described in the article as not being particularly concerned about moving participants on short notice, and he is quoted as saying, "They have places to put these people."

I can't believe Mr. Goldstein would be so unconcerned about the welfare of the participants if he were fully informed of the difficulties faced by these young people and of the scarcity of suitable living arrangements for them.

The board could have pursued its responsibility to investigate the New Pathways program and to evaluate the expenditure of state funds without jeopardizing the young people simply by setting a 15- or 30-day deadline for action.

As it stands, many of the participants were victimized once by their natural parent and now again by their substitute parent -- the state.

Iris Ann Gordon

Baltimore

Heavy traffic

Regarding overtime pay for state troopers to catch speeders on our highways, the public would be better served if the troopers spent their time catching real criminals.

As for $50,000 of Department of Transportation funds to pay the overtime, the public's tax dollars would be better spent fixing potholes.

Finally, as for increasing the speed limit only on rural highways, why is population density the sole factor used in determining the safe speed for a highway?

Take a look at I-95 between the Baltimore and Washington beltways. If ever there was a road deserving a higher speed limit, it's this one, designed for high-speed and high-volume transportation through a heavily populated area.

Steve Sorrow

Baltimore

Life is an onion

Recent pronouncements from the medical community give one reason to question its objectives.

As the practitioners of the healing sciences continue to circumvent the actuarial tables of the life insurance industry, by extending our life expectancy, they have dropped the ball when it comes to the quality of these added years.

A visit to any institution specializing in geriatric care will substantiate this. So long as the quality of life of the elderly is ignored, there will continue to exist "a thing worse than death."

James Huneker compared life to an onion: "You peel off layer after layer and then you find there is nothing in it."

J. Bernard Hihn

Baltimore

Inflammatory

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