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Donald J. HARLOW wrote:

>Worth noting that the distinction between e.g. 'p' and 'b' is not
>universal. The Chinese -- almost a quarter of the human race -- don't
>recognize it, and in Pinyin use the letter 'b' to signify the 'p'
>in "skip"
>as opposed to the 'p' in "pie" -- a distinction that they consider
>semantically important. Probably best to make both variants of 'p' (voiced
>'b' and unaspirated unvoiced 'b') allophonic with aspirated unvoiced 'p'.

To the best of my knowledge there is distinction between
'p' and 'b' in Mandarin Phonology:
http://www.sungwh.freeserve.co.uk/chinese/bpmf.htm
http://www.sungwh.freeserve.co.uk/chinese/chinipa.htm