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CHINA: WHAT THE 'RED CARPET' TREATMENT REALLY MEANS (int'l edition)

Regarding ''Tough questions for an Ambassador'' (U.S. Government, Sept. 14), I can understand wanting to set the tone for the story, but I disagree with characterizing normal occurrences as ''red carpet'' treatment. The ''red carpet'' treatment is, in fact, quite typical of the experience of the average American visiting Beijing, particularly if he or she is being hosted by a friend. Ambassador James R. Sasser lives in the ambassador's residence, and it is reasonable to expect him to host his friends.

The vast majority of American visitors to Beijing tour the Great Wall and often bring food along. In fact, since there is a real threat of getting the hepatitis virus from any of the food vendors, it is a matter of safety to bring one's own food. The cashmere markets and silk stalls are not luxury stores, but normal flea market-type areas selling clothing and souvenirs of all types to all people. By exaggerating issues on one level, the credibility of the remaining issues are called into question.


Larry Hymson
Franklin Square, N.Y.


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