Editorial: China should indeed be barred from King Charles's coronation

News Letter editorial on Monday February 20 2023:
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Every so often the western world is shaken out of its complacency.

It was, for example, shaken out of its complacency about Islamic extremism after the September 11 2001 attacks on America.

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The evidence of such extremism had been crystal clear more than a decade earlier with the despicable fatwa against the brilliant author Salman Rushdie.

But still people rounded on Rushdie, rather than his medieval Iranian enemies.

And, while a string of Islamic terror attacks on western targets have shaken hundreds of millions of people out of their naivete, still there are those who denounce supposed ‘Islamophobia’ before Islamist extremism.

The road to opening people’s eyes about China has been a similarly slow one but it has begun to have some success.

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Commentary about China often observes how rich and seemingly western and developed the country has become, and in many respects that impression is an accurate one.

But there is a fundamental difference between China and Europe, North America and Australasia. It is phenomenally repressive.

In fact, it is astonishing that the country has become so relatively rich and like us, and has developed the same interests in mobile technology and internet, yet manages to snuff out entirely the media and information and democratic freedoms that our central to our lives.

Beijing’s ability to crush openness and dissent and free comment is a terrifying harbinger of the world’s potential future. Its military power and ruthlessness makes that repression all the more alarming.

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Sir Iain Duncan Smith, ex Tory leader, is right to ask for China to be barred from King Charles’s coronation. We might not be able to resist China militarily but we can at least deploy our soft power against them.