A price worth paying
Although the focus of Richard Gregson’s article (‘Cancellation shocks Indonesians’, May 2023) was upon the financial cost (both personal and national) of FIFA’s decision to withdraw the U–20 World Cup from Indonesia, he misses a much wider point – namely the moral vacuum within which this supine organisation operates. Although some may argue that sport should remain separate from politics, anyone who is concerned by human rights’ abuses would surely agree with the government’s stance, irrespective of the actual motives of individual ministers.
Throughout history, athletes, sporting bodies and more recently footballers have taken a stand against human rights abuses – think back to national squads taking the knee at the Qatar World Cup in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and applauded for doing so. While the core values of FIFA purport to be Accountability, Integrity & Solidarity, its actions in this debacle would suggest the opposite. For Muslims and indeed others, the oppression of the Palestinian people is of greater importance than hard, cold money – a concept that this corrupt, iniquitous body would fail to understand.
Leading from the front
Listening to The Democracy Forum’s webinar (‘72 years of Chinese colonial rule in Tibet’, April 2023), I was deeply moved by accounts from the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration of self-immolation among the Tibetan people and couldn’t help wondering whether Tibet’s spiritual and political leaders should be leading the struggle for independence from within Tibet too. Although both leaders are revered and respected figures, much of the universal respect that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has earned (and Churchill before him) has been on account of the fact that he has stayed put with his people and suffered the privations and risk to life alongside them.
Trade at any cost?
Duncan Bartlett’s article (Robust Pragmatism, May 2023) is a skillful analysis of the diplomatic tightrope which British and other Western leaders must walk in their dealings with China. While inward investment and trade deals are undoubtedly at the forefront of Sunak’s agenda, it must be hoped that the prime minister does not allow these considerations to overshadow China’s growing military aggression in the Indo-Pacific region or allow theabuses of minority groups to be swept under the proverbial carpet.
In spite of being afforded the honour of a state visit to the UK in 2015 and invited to the coronation of King Charles in May of this year, Xi Jinping has pointedly declined to attend this highly significant event and opted to send his vice-president in his place. This can only be seen as a deliberate snub, following criticism by the UK of China’s mistreatment of the Uighur Muslims and Hong Kong protesters, and shows the true face of the PRC – a totalitarian regime bent on global domination rather than cooperation with neighbours and other powers.
This begs the question, should the UK’s direction of travelin this post-BREXIT era be upon decreasing our reliance on China’s goods and services and focusing upon expanding Britain’s manufacturing and technological sectors?And should we rethink our policy of allowing Chinese students to buy access to Britain’s world-class schools and universities, which would allow them to use the skills and knowledge acquired to strengthen China’s economy further? Because, in spite of China being ‘the world’s factory’, it is Britain which is a global leader across a wide range of sectors and trade must not be at any price.
Some way to go
Syed Badrul Ahsan’s report (‘A photograph, a law and the state of politics,’ May 2023) provides a useful insight into the state of politics in modern-day Bangladesh. Home truths can often be unwelcome, but an open and confident society would not have reacted in such a repressive manner. Press freedom is the cornerstone of any democratic society and while editors are duty-bound to operate in a responsible and lawful way, they should also be allowed to report the facts without fear of prosecution. Allowing independent observers to oversee next year’s election is a positive step forward but until Bangladesh’s economic progress is matched by a development in the mindset of its government and its people, it will remain firmly in the 20th century.
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