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"Mainland Laws Do Not Apply in Hong Kong"

Re "A post-SARS Rx for Hong Kong" (Asian Business, June 9): In commenting on the Hong Kong government's proposed National Security Bill, Mark L. Clifford repeats the myth that under the proposals, if the mainland declares some act or statement to jeopardize its national security, the courts in Hong Kong will be bound by that ruling. This makes a good story but is just plain wrong.

The classification of information on the mainland, whether as "secret," as "jeopardizing its national security," or as anything else has no relevance at all to the operation of the Official Secrets Ordinance as it now stands or as it will be with the amendments proposed. Nor would such a classification on the mainland be relevant to any of the other offense provisions proposed under the bill.

Where "national security" is referred to in the legislation, it is specifically defined to have a meaning that is consistent with international human rights norms. Mainland laws do not apply in Hong Kong. Hong Kong laws will continue to be interpreted by Hong Kong's independent judiciary. Far from muzzling Hong Kong's free and outspoken press, the bill represents liberalization of the existing laws that have been in place since British colonial rule.

James O'Neil

Deputy Solicitor General

Justice Dept.

Hong Kong Your editorial "High stakes for the global economy" (Editorials, June 2) misses a very important point. The Western economies are about as modern as it gets. Why do we need a 3G phone to watch a movie? Why do we need a 600-hp car on a 120-kph limited highway? Why do we need recordable DVD players with VCRs?

These questions are not meant to be rhetorical but to point out that this is "as good as it gets." Just maybe, it is time the Group of Eight step aside and let other people into the game. Just maybe, the economies of the future lie with China, India, South Africa, Nigeria, Iraq, and other "lesser" countries. Maybe the G-8 has to enter a phase where the 10% of the world that usually dictates needs should step back and let the younger generation of countries run the world. Everybody has to retire sometime, including countries.

Christian Gross

Zurich Re "Yahoo! Act two" (The Internet, June 9): I abhor "portal worlds." They (AOL, Yahoo, MSN) are limiting, and their focus is on one thing only -- to lock people into their "world" and hopefully extract money from them. There's nothing wrong with this, mind you. However, Yahoo was once a gateway with vistas -- and now, it is simply a box or cave with limited vision.

Beyond this personal issue around portals, I am saddened to hear about the company's "deal" with SBC Communications Inc. Having SBC as my DSL provider, I enjoyed a certain anonymity because as a public utility, it couldn't sell or distribute my personal information, thereby limiting a certain level of spam and junk mail. When one makes the switch to Yahoo, one's name and e-mail address are freely distributed.

Michael Doud

Pacific Grove, Calif. Until I read Laura D'Andrea Tyson's "Why Britain should steer clear of the euro" (Economic Viewpoint, June 2), I was not even aware that anyone was seriously thinking about British entry to the euro zone anytime soon. After all, English foreign policy of keeping Europe divided has worked quite well for the English for the last 1,000 years.

It is unfortunate that Tyson used the article for "euro bashing" rather than a deeper analysis of the reasons for the shift in exchange rates: isolated national economic policies when the world's industrial economies are increasingly interdependent, reduction in the capital inflow ($1.2 billion per day) needed to offset America's skyrocketing imbalance of trade, and the fact that central bankers around the world are increasingly viewing the euro as a reserve currency worth holding (up 2 percentage points this year, to 15% of total reserves).

The housecleaning needed in Germany and France has been public knowledge since the idea of the euro took shape in the mid-1990s. That politicians have curried favor with special-interest groups who supply workers and "donations" to their reelection campaigns rather than make the tough decisions needed to protect the people who actually elected them is an illness of many of our Western democracies. Change has been slow, perhaps too slow, but it is starting to happen. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Edward B. Robertson

R?srath, Germany

Tyson makes a good case -- so good that one wonders why any of the countries joined. To eliminate financial flexibility is financial suicide.

Donald Bradley

Plainfield, N.H.

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