National Geographic : 2008 Sep
LETTERS Please don't paint China as such a beautiful place when its leaders are doing their best to destroy it via environ mental terrorism and crimes against humanity. TERRY L. LIKENS Seattle, Washington Very scary! The Chinese are killing their country one ruined river, one greedy official, one cancer-ridden village, one envi ronmental disaster at a time. BARBARA TAYLOR Santa Rosa, California After reading this issue, I feel I've looked into the face of our doom. For the rush of the dollar, China will bring the world to its ecological knees. Instead of learning from mis takes of the past, it's repeating the very same ones. GARY PIDA Canyon Country, California Amy Tan's description of life in the Dong village of Dimen ("Village on the Edge of Time") rings true. Only one 74-year-old woman still knows the epic song about the history of Dimen. Tan despairs that the Dong people have no written form of their language, Kam, to preserve such songs. There is, however, a written form of Dong, com missioned by the Chinese government in the 1950s. A pilot program in the Dong village of Zaidang involves instruction in both Mandarin and Dong. The main goal is to improve levels of Mandarin; an obvious spin-off is strengthening Dong culture. NORMAN GEARY Dong/Mandarin Bilingual Project Bangor, Northern Ireland How sad to see so many Chinese carried away with the American model of consumer ism, with its empty glitz and glitter. Yet with rich Eastern philosophical roots almost part of their DNA, they may yet apply the brakes and point this truly rich society in new directions. WILLIAM H. WHITE Fort Walton Beach, Florida fee Ie looked into the ace of our doom For the rus of thedollar Chri will brirg the word to its ecological knees. of the past, it's repeating the While China may be the next superpower, I found it disheart ening to see the Chinese are no further ahead in compassion for other species than we are: the fur with paws, netted monkeys for experiments, live crocodiles displayed in lush hotel lobbies for someone's dinner. G.A. CUMMINGS Salem, Oregon Seems to me China is quickly self-destructing from both a human and environmental standpoint due to its manufac turing excesses. The "coming out" party of the Olympics may well be this culture's apex. PETE WILLIAMS Prescott, Arizona Visiting China in 1983, 1985, and 1987, I saw some free enterprise: Peasants sold straw hats, terra-cotta soldier figures were replicated, street vendors made shirts to order. It was impossible to imagine the manufacturing progress of the next two decades. What brought about this surge? My brother, who worked at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from the 1960s to the 1980s, saw hundreds of diligent Chinese students. That generation of students who went abroad have made China what it is today. ARTHUR H. GERHARDT Albany, New York "The Road Ahead" was a fitting end to the issue. Our Western consumption patterns are the elephant in the room. We are addicted to Asian-made goods but angrily criticize China's CO 2 emissions and horrifying pollution. Just as we outsource production to China, we are outsourcing massive environ mental problems. JANIE BOOTH Davis, California Corrections, Clarifications May 2008: Special Supplement: China/Forbidden City The description of the People's Republic of China as the "fourth largest country, only slightly smaller than the United States," is based on land and inland water area and excludes Taiwan. Construction of the Grand Canal began in the fifth century B.C. The end of the Qianlong emperor's reign was 1796. Olympic Torch Run A late change in the route added Delhi and cut out Mumbai.