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Another view of China's protests

I am glad that the editorial "China's Reaction" (May 13) recognized "Chinese-American relations are too important to allow a total rupture." However, I feel as though the opening paragraphs of the article are not conducive to good relations. In fact, I was shocked to read "the tragic bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade does not justify the Beijing authorities' cynical and manipulative reaction; unleashing demonstrations that effectively held the United States ambassador and a skeleton staff hostage for days ... and it did little or nothing to prevent damage to the embassy and consulates."

Recently I received an e-mail from my daughter, who is an employee of the United States Information Service and stationed in a consulate in China. Her observations of the anti-American disturbances in China expressed an entirely different opinion. And she agreed with her boss, who said the Chinese government, instead of encouraging protesters, was actually stage-managing them to keep a lid on.

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Several friends of mine expressed the opinion that most Americans, government officials, and ordinary citizens alike completely lack the ability to empathize with the Chinese. Many felt that Americans would have reacted much worse than the Chinese would have acted in the reverse position.

Frances Wilken, Wilmington, Ohio

Banking in Japan

The International Monetary Fund's contingent credit, described in "A bailout by any other name..." (May 5), was tested on a local scale last year by Japan. It didn't work.

In January 1998, Japan, faced with a mass of tottering and insolvent banks, made available 30 trillion yen, or roughly $230 billion, to shore them up and protect depositors. In October, this was doubled to 60 trillion yen. What happened?

As in the IMF plan, these funds had to be asked for. Not wishing to publicly appear weak, or to admit to insolvency, the banks, for the most part, plunged their collective heads into buckets of sand and haven't asked for those funds. As the author points out, governments would be equally reluctant to apply for the IMF loans, since doing so would signal economic weakness and invite further problems. The IMF should consider the Japanese parallel and rethink their idea.

R.C. de Mordaigle, Los Angeles

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Bats and sight

Regarding "The bats and the bees" (May 13): Bats are not blind; they can see quite well. Megachiropteran bats have up to 10 times the density of cones and rods embedded in their retinas as do humans. Megachiropteran bats also have eyesight at least comparable to ours, and some microbats have eyesight rivaling the visual acuity of the megabats. Microbats also echolocate, but did not give up their vision in order to do so. So the mystery of how they can see flowers is now solved.

I'm sure bats have a myth that humans are blind.

Patricia Winters, Ross, Calif. California Bat, Conservation Fund

Stay on course

Regarding "What would you tell this teacher?" (May 11): To the Massachusetts teacher with only two years in the profession, believe me, stay the course. There should be more teachers who feel as you do. You may be the one to win out and make the difference in classrooms as they exist today - and they are frightful!

Also, you might get renewed by merely reading a book called "Shut Up and Let the Lady Teach," by Elaine Sachar.

Lucy Merker, Pittsfield, Mass.

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