Why Isn’t This Colonialism?

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Perhaps the thing which most outraged those we colonised was not that we took political power, nor even that we took all the money – we didn’t, but that’s what people think we did – it’s that we told them all how to behave. That we were the civilisation with all the guns didn’t quite mean that our manner of running life was the only manner, or the best, in which life could be run.

At which point, why isn’t this colonialism?

A Chinese university has launched an investigation into claims that one of its scientists genetically edited human babies, an experiment branded ‘monstrous’ by British academics who called for an immediate global ban. In a YouTube video posted on Monday He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, said he had altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatment, which had led to the birth of twins earlier this month. He said his goal was to give the babies a natural ability to resist HIV.

It’s foreigners doing what we morally disapprove of. And the insistence is that they must be stopped, these foreigners, from doing what we disapprove of. This is colonialism again, isn’t it? If it isn’t, why isn’t it?

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