Letters to the editor | Edition 3 June 2023

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Letters are welcome by email to [email protected]

Congress investigates China

“Decoding the detente” (May 20) suggested that the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party needs a “serious debate” in its work. But just because the Democrats and Republicans alike criticize the Communist Party’s persecution of the Uyghurs does not mean that there is group opinion on the panel. In fact, the lack of political theater indicates how Washington should work.

The select committee is finding facts and engaging with experts to build a bipartisan consensus around a difficult and thought-provoking situation. In that process there will be a fruitful debate both within and between parties. For example, I disagree with Washington’s position on industrial policy, in general, and bilateral trade deficits with China in particular.

The United States will defeat China by doubling down on our strengths as a market democracy, not by adding to China’s five-year plans at home and merchandising abroad. We should pursue more trade deals, with bipartisan support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement as a template for moving forward. And we should invest in business-agnostic fundamentals: excellent education, especially in mathematics, where American students have lost ground from covid; a world-class research and development center; and a high-level business environment characterized by democracy, the rule of law, quality infrastructure and prompt governance.

As we would say in the Marines, these missions are simple, but not easy.

Jake Auchinclos
Representative for the 4th congressional district in Massachusetts
washington, DC

The WHO and covid-19

Although Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus must not offend any of his government members at the World Health Organization, I am disappointed by how careful he was in his reflection on the lessons from covid-19 (Invited, eds. digital, May 15). The first disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the developed world was much more than just the underfunding of public health. This ignores the importance of mobile populations and other factors related to the way the disease spreads so quickly. I would have said more, too, about vaccine nationalism, the failure of the visionary COVAX campaign and the ongoing disruption of intellectual property rights.

Despite the claims to the contrary about its relevance, the truth is NGOs and the pharmaceutical industry at such extremes on the matter discourages the kind of consensus building and collaboration in global health policy that is desperately needed. And, of course, Dr. Tedros avoided criticizing how the Chinese have collected vital information about the origin of covid.

Catherine Hagen
Deputy Director General of the International Labor Organization
Grasse, France

E0RN1W Minister Martin Luther King, Jr.  preaching at an event

MLK’s Christian Faith

“The Last Founding Father” (May 13) downplayed Martin Luther King’s religious beliefs, saying that Mohandas Gandhi was probably “the single greatest influence” on his life and work. King would be offended by this idea, not because he did not admire Gandhi, but because Jesus Christ was the “greatest influence” on his life and work. It looks like it is The Economist following the thoughts of people like Steven Pinker, who, in “The Better Angels of our Nature”, called attention to King’s religion, the only real source of his great store of vital and intellectual energy.

Tommaso Todesca
Los Angeles

Explaining English nationalism

We are the “couple of academics” who took Bagehot to task for overstating the political significance of English nationalism (April 22). Given both the scattergun nature of the conviction and the fact that your columnist’s situation expands to include nothing less than “the intelligentsia” as a whole, it’s no easy feat. figure out the nature of our particular sins. Nevertheless, a few points of correction are in order.

As is clear from the first pages of our book, “Englishness: The Political Force Transforming Britain”, the argument is not that English nationalism represents a rejection of Britishness. It is not understood as another form of modern Irish, Scottish or Welsh nationalism. Instead, together with a sense of the injustice of the unfair treatment of England within the domestic union, English nationalism emerges as a strong commitment to a particular understanding of Britain’s history and a vision of its future. she could have.

Bagehot seems to see no merit in attempts to understand why the results of the Brexit referendum were territorially differentiated. Given the amount of resources politicians have spent dealing with the alleged drivers of the referendum vote (“left behind” and the rest) this seems like an odd situation. But anyway, as academics we make no apologies for wanting to do that, and the fact is that in England, those who have retained an English identity voted overwhelmingly for Leave while those who feel British only or mainly tend to be. Vote Remain. It is not the rise of English identity, but its relevance to contemporary politics that deserves careful examination.

Finally, Bagehot claims that the Conservative Party’s attempt to shift English identity in the 2015 general election made no difference to the overall result. A deliberate territorial protest movement by one of the main parties of the state is, of course, important, but the evidence also shows that there are large numbers of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Liberal Democrats who have not succeeded. UKIP candidates in that election are sure that the Tories gained an advantage in elections by doing so.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones
Cardiff University

Professor Ailsa Henderson
University of Edinburgh

Building houses in Britain

Bagehot’s assessment of the politics of new housing in Britain was insightful (13 May). Public opinion is so big that there is plenty of room for excuses not to build, but it is also very conditional, more “maybe” than “nimby” or “yimby”. In fact, there is a consensus about what to aim for. A clear majority of both Remain and Leave voters agree that “unless we build a lot more houses, we will not solve the country’s housing problems”.

The challenge is twofold. The public do not like the new houses they see being built (unaffordable, often ugly and torn down somewhere). Related to this, nimbyism is not always a knee-jerk reaction but motivated by some legitimate concerns. This brings us back to the planning system and the need for political leadership. As the saying goes, you probably wouldn’t start from here. But we have to start.

Ben Marshall
Research director

Although new buildings are important they are only part of the solution to more housing. There are 27m houses in Britain and many of them are unsuitable, either in need of remodeling or benefiting from modifications to make them suitable homes. We need to broaden the thinking and measurement around housing to include the development and addition of accommodation to existing structures. It’s probably better to make existing homes better than even the Blockers would agree.

Chief technology officer
Porthouse Dean

Case of the BLEU’s

I enjoyed your article looking beyond the hype about the impact of artificial intelligence on work (“Your new colleague”, May 13). Resistance to technological change is common, including among researchers in AI and large language models. A small example of this, which frustrates me and many of my colleagues, is that many researchers continue to use the BLEU (bilingual evaluation sub-study) to assess the quality of machine translation and computer texts (I have also seen The Economist do this).

Several studies have shown that there are far better ways to measure text quality. If so AI researchers can’t be bothered to update outdated methods in their own research, they shouldn’t expect the rest of the world to immediately and radically change to use them. AI technology.

Ehud Reiter
Professor of computer science
University of Aberdeen

2R0Y7CC BERGEN OP ZOOM - Larvae of soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) at Protix, the world's largest insect farm.  The larvae of this fly are very rich in protein.  ANP ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN Holland out - Belgium out

As disgusting as Vegemite

I read with interest your article on how insects can better serve the food chain (“bug-fed steak”, May 20). The idea of ​​feeding wastewater from beer brewing to feed farm animals sounds ingenious. Vegemite is also made using a yeast by-product from brewing. Many people think that eating Vegemite is as appealing as eating insects, although our Australian friends would strongly disagree. I will try my best to keep the peace by drinking more beer.

Brian Hadden
Greenwich, Connecticut

Mandatory credit: Photo by snapshot-photograph/F Boillot/Shutterstock (13880378a) Around 200 people demand the legalization of cannabis and consumption at the Brandenburg Gate with a

A puff of smoke

Reading about the slow legalization of cannabis in Europe I was struck by the Dutch name MEP, Dorien Rookmaker (“Up in a Mist”, May 13). Dutch speakers probably thought it was a joke: Rookmaker translates as smoker in Dutch.

Arjen Levison
Haarlem, Holland

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