Letter: Trade will not change China's nature

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Sir: After cataloguing the latest string of humiliations that kow-towing Western governments have accepted for the promise of lucre, your leading article 'Trade speaks loudest as Brown courts Peking' (1 September) concludes with the astonishing non sequitur:

The higher the stakes in terms of trade with the West, the more rational and less maverick (China's) behaviour is likely to be.

This Western faith in the transformative powers of free trade fails to notice that China's long history, which Ron Brown (the American Commerce Secretary) declares as 'deserving of respect, even deference', has never shown the slightest inclination towards respect for human rights, democracy or any of the other fruits that, we are assured, will one day appear.

China continues to be a totalitarian state, operating a repressive regime in Tibet and an extensive gulag in Qinghai. The contracts proudly brandished by Mr Brown and his colleagues are economic equivalents of Chamberlain's accord with the Nazis: 'Free trade in our time]'

Yours sincerely,


Ashprington, Devon

1 September