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Letter: Maintaining the spirit of open debate

To the Editor:

I appreciated The Herald’s coverage of my “Family Weekend” lecture on the protest movement in Hong Kong.  As the article correctly pointed out, I described a series of economic, social and political factors that I believe are motivating those protests, including the Mainland Chinese government’s deepening authoritarianism and growing use of extralegal coercive measures, all of which directly affect people in Hong Kong. As the article also correctly points out, I welcome the expression of views that differ from my own.  However, I was disappointed in the Herald’s decision to repeat a questioner’s ad hominem assertion that I am funded by — or otherwise an agent of — the Chinese government and its propaganda arms. The assertion, of course, is wholly untrue.  Equally important, such ad hominem attacks undermine the spirit of free and open debate so central to Brown’s mission and, frankly, so vital for the resolution of the great challenges of our time. Among those, I would include the threats to democratic governance and freedom facing people in Hong Kong.

Edward S. Steinfeld

Director of the Watson
Institute for International & Public Affairs

Professor of Political Science



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