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Why The U.S. Should Be Slow To Defend Taiwan

"An arms cornucopia for China?" (European Business, Feb. 21) neglected to mention that the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese view [the prospect of] rule by Beijing as an inconvenience, not a tragedy. Consider the following facts: The Taiwanese voluntarily made their island economically dependent on China by investing more than $100 billion into more than 50,000 businesses on the mainland. Following this money, more than 1 million Taiwanese have immigrated to China to live and work. Even officers retired from the Taiwanese military have immigrated to China to work at lucrative jobs arranged by the Chinese government; in exchange, the officers have given Beijing top-secret information about American weapons sold to Taipei.

Why should Americans die to defend people with such nonchalance toward rule by Beijing? Even before the Chinese use European weapons to seize Taiwan, Washington should consider how to trade the island away in exchange for concessions from Beijing on matters of vital national or humanitarian interest. For example: 1) allowing North Korean refugees to transit freely through China to South Korea, 2) remaining silent in the event that the Japanese military destroys the nuclear facilities in North Korea, 3) granting autonomy to Tibet, and 4) allowing the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet as its spiritual leader.

Dwight Sunada

Stanford, Calif.

Combining ethanol production in the U.S. and Canada with ethanol production from sugar cane in South America (with the cost per gallon under $1) could make both Americas independent of oil exports from other parts of the world in less then 10 years. ("Not your father's ethanol," Industries, Feb. 21 in some editions and BusinessWeek Online). In addition, a better and legal option to coca would be offered to farmers in South America, thus helping to solve the drug problem.

This would also be the solution for thirsty Chinese and Indian economies; it could drive them while improving carbon dioxide levels. But hard lobbying against these policies is to be expected -- oil multinationals, OPEC countries, and Russia are feeling real danger here. To protect investors, oil multinationals should get a chunk of this business. If developed right, this technology would make the world a much better place!

Martin G. Baroch

Horgen, Switzerland

You ask, what is the key to increasing exports? Certainly one good way is to raise the number of Americans abroad promoting U.S.-made goods and services ("The export engine needs a turbocharge," News: The United States, Feb. 14, and "Time to cope with co-dependency," Business Outlook, Feb. 28). As shown by statistics from the U.S. Commerce Dept., the number of American employees working abroad for nonbank foreign affiliates of U.S. multinational corporations dropped from 41,200 in 1982 to 20,200 in 1999 (the latest year for which data are available). It is simply too expensive for American companies to employ Americans abroad because of the taxes that the American government imposes on its citizens.

The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that taxes its people on the basis of their citizenship rather than residency. Whereas a German, for example, working in the U.S. will pay only U.S. taxes, an American working in Germany must pay both German and U.S. taxes. The American is priced out of the market. No one can promote American products better than Americans. Exports need people behind them. Let's get rid of the penalizing tax on American labor overseas.

Jackie Bugnion

American Citizens Abroad

St. George, Switzerland

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