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(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-09-11 07:49

China needs to change too

Comment on "What is the dollar's sustainable value?" (China Daily, Aug 7))

Professor Martin Feldstein's article was insightful about sustainable value of US dollar. The points about the insatiability of a US $700 billion trade deficit and the need for a dollar value that reduces this are well taken as an example of market economics.

For sure a lower dollar makes imports by US dearer and US exports cheaper. However we need to give thought to the structural changes that have taken place in the last 10 years. It is not just about changing the price of those imports that US consumers love to devour as evidence of a well-developed economy but where they get those consumer goods from.

Since China became the workshop of the world, US consumers have little choice but to get many consumer durables from the Middle Kingdom. With its underlying cost advantages and the investments, it is hard to see that change to US-based production, even if US dollar falls.

Even if labor and other costs in China rise, the most likely impact would be yet more outsourcing to lower-cost economies in Asia such as Vietnam, so the trend for the US to buy its main consumer goods from abroad would continue.

This structural change is not easily reversible and is a significant factor in the continued likelihood of a US trade deficit and the limited ability of a lower dollar to correct this.

I doubt that the authorities would allow the dollar to fall that far. If anything, a prolonged recession in the US and a general cutback in US consumer expenditure is more likely to shrink the deficit than price effects. That recession is looking increasingly likely and maybe a necessary correction. With that in mind, it is time for China to be moving from export-led to domestic consumption-led growth.

Colin Speakman in London

via e-mail

A basketball trade secret that can help

Along with a billion other riveted viewers, it was with great interest that I watched Yao Ming ceremoniously open the first game versus the United States by zinging through a three-point shot. During a break from the game, the TV featured a brief documentary of how popular basketball has become in China and as a lifetime basketball aficionado, this also enthused me.

With the economic development of China, with thousands of new basketball courts in the land, I would like to make an observation from the viewpoint of aspiring school-ground players.

Every bouncing kid knows that when they come upon the court, if the net is torn or missing, this takes some of the wind out of their sails. With the great expenses of new courts, poles and baskets, the net is usually first to go bad. And with the nets gone, children will often go off to play a different sport.

Nylon nets attached to heavily used basketball hoops often wear out within a few weeks. A way to remedy this is to soak the net in boiled linseed oil for a day and then let it dry out for another, before hanging it from the basket. Preparing a net in this way increases its life tenfold. Soaking a net in linseed oil sometimes shrivels it up a bit, requiring maintenance staff to shoot swishes for stretching it back out.

In this manner, the workers will have achieved what many amateur basketball players dream of, as they will then be receiving pay for shooting and making baskets.

Jim Banholzer, from the US

via e-mail

Make people realize the value of life

Comment on "Young still most prone to suicide" (China Daily, Sept 10)

Money is not the most important reason. In some rural areas of China, some people commit suicide because of complex reasons, such as disputes, divorces and so on.

Our government should reinforce education in rural areas and help them realize the value of life.

Jiajia

on China Daily website

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(China Daily 09/11/2008 page9)