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Taiwan's intent Regarding "Taiwan widens 'One China' split" (July 15): Taiwan isn't interested in widening existing differences with mainland China further. We are interested, however, in seeing that substantial accomplishments be achieved in cross-strait relations, especially as we enter the new millennium. Taiwan's updated policy merely reflects the current state of cross-strait relations based on objective political and legal reality. It does not represent any dramatic change.

We still look forward to the possible autumn visit by Mr. Wang Dao-han, chairman of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. He would be the highest level negotiator from the mainland ever to visit Taiwan.

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Taiwan's clarification of the current status of cross-strait relations as being "two states in one nation" is pragmatic, represents a continuity of policy, and is innovative. Political and historic fact attests that the Republic of China and People's Republic of China are two separate governments that have jurisdiction over Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and the mainland areas respectively. It also mirrors mainstream opinion of Taiwan's democratic society. In a recent poll by the ruling Nationalist Party, 60 percent of respondents backed the characterization of cross-strait ties as "state-to-state" rather than "political entities."

Under this innovative "state-to-state" relationship, it is hoped that Taipei and Beijing will be free from the confines of the never-ending pursuit of a mutually acceptable definition of "one China" and, instead, make real progress in the cross-strait relationship. Should unification occur in the future, however, the ROC rightfully insists it will only come about under a system of democracy.

Beijing could increase trust and understanding in the hearts and minds of Taiwan's 22 million people if it renounced the use of force. A replay of the 1996 war games in which Beijing fired live missiles near Taiwan's coast and conducted mock-invasion exercises will only hinder progress.

YIH Jung-tzung Boston Director of the information division Taipei Economic & Cultural Office

What makes soccer exciting?

I feel compelled to comment on the statement that the Women's World Cup soccer game was not inspiring and consisted of "everything Americans deride about soccer - lots of defense, few moments of exceptional skill" ("In World Cup, a waymark for women," July 12). That kind of attitude is why soccer has not caught on in the States. It reflects the American obsession with offensive plays and players - what could be called the "Michael Jordan" approach to sports.

Soccer is all about defense, the field work and foot work, the head shots and corner kicks, and the energy of the players. Just because the final score wasn't 10-9, just because there weren't Jordanesque shots on goal, or one player made all the big plays, doesn't mean the game wasn't inspired. Learn to appreciate the kind of game it is, and find inspiration in the exceptional skill and athleticism of the players.

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Jennifer Flanagan Pittsburgh, Pa.

I think most sports fans prefer games with a lot of scoring ("A breakthrough goal," July 12). The most exciting part of that game occurred at the end when the Americans outscored the Chinese 5-4 in the shootout. It was too bad they wasted our time playing 120 minutes of overly defensive soccer with so few shots on goal. Fans are more excited about seeing stars like Michael Jordan score. In order for the sport to cash in on this "breakthrough goal" they will have to change the rules (baseball, football, and basketball have all done so) and create an atmosphere of "riveting" higher scoring games.

Craig A. Miller St. Francis, Wis.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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